This book is a mix of Boonsboro trilogy, the ...In Death series, the television show Criminal Minds, and category Romance. This is not a good mix, but the book ended up being okay.
It started off with such potential. Naomi Bowes, age 11, follows her father into the West Virginian woods one night and finds out his secret. This secret is rescued by Naomi and her father goes to prison. Her childhood/teenage years are spent in NYC with her uncles, her younger brother, and her unstable as fuck mother - those years were not all bad, and the uncles gave her and her brother a stability and warm family life that was severely missing since day one of their lives. However, shitty people are going to be shitty, and Naomi develops social anxiety and ends up becoming a bit of a loner.This part of the story was page-turning and rich in story telling.
Then Naomi, age 29, decides to settle down and take up residence in Sunrise Cove, Wa. She buys a huge, neglected house and begins renovating (via contractors/subcontractors), decorating, refinishing furniture, landscaping, painting, and basically lives the life of a HGTV show host. And she complains incessantly about all the noise while she needs to work. On top of the boring house renovations, there are endless talk of photography; her work isn't all that imaginative (for example, the photos she takes of the band read really corny to me). All this boring talk of house renovations, cooking demonstrations, and photography take up 3/4 of the book. It was the Boonsboro trilogy all over again. This shows that Roberts needs a new editor, one with strong enough opinions and backbone to start culling the tedious parts of the book and use these topics to enhance character development.
The suspense element comes into play again in the last 50 pages; there is a copycat killer that takes inspiration from Naomi's father's crimes. It takes Naomi far too long to figure out the new killings are related to her; she becomes quite the dim bulb after starting a sexual relationship with Xander. I figured out who the new killer was pretty early on - the big clue came at the end of the first part of the book, at least 250 pages before the first murder in Sunrise Cove. So there wasn't much suspense for me; the climax of Naomi meeting the copycat killer last all of two pages - in a 453 page book, the big suspense element was 2! pages. Her brother did most of the heavy lifting in finding who the killer was, but it was more like an episode of Criminal Minds (terminology, suits and ties, big black SUVs) than a display of Mason's detective skills. Definitely not worth the time invested in reading the mystery.
Of course, the mystery involved two serial killers, sexual sadistic serial killers at that. This is prime ...In Death territory and this book comes with typical ID tropes - MC has nightmares related to the murders, the victims are all women who were raped and tortured for days before dying (TRIGGER WARNINGS: graphic descriptions of rape and torture), and of course, almost all the victims were surrogates for the MC. And there are a LOT of women; Naomi's father had close to 50 victims and the copycat killer had close to 26 victims. It was overkill.
The characters were not really likeable; Naomi got bitchy about helping a stray dog, Xander is an alpha-hole, Jenny was too friendly. The worst character was Xander - he bossed Naomi around too much to be seen as a real partner to Naomi. He also said a lot of sexist bullshit and looked at Naomi as special because she didn't do "girly" stuff. **EYE ROLL** Also, he has very little back story, same goes for Jenny and Kevin and other townspeople, except for Marla who got the evil slut treatment (another ID trope).
If you do read this book, skip at least the second part and most of the third part to avoid HGTV overload.