Review – Next of Kin by Sharon Sala

Publisher: HQN
Publish Date: Out Now!
How I got this book: NetGalley

Beth Venable has seen too much. Witness to a major mob hit, she’s placed in protective custody until the trial. But after her third safe house is riddled with bullets, she goes off-grid to save herself. What the FBI can’t do, her kinfolk will.

The beautiful but forbidding Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky welcome Beth back, dirt roads and rustic shacks a world apart from L.A. But her homecoming—even her blissful reunion with strong, silent Ryal Walker—is made bittersweet by the fight she’s brought to the clan’s doorstep. Hidden in a remote cabin with the man she’s always wanted, Beth begins to dream of a new life: her old one. But after so long, with such dangers stalking her…impossible.

But love can distill life down to its essence: an elixir of pure hope, nerve—and the will to survive.
*Blurb from Goodreads*

I was so excited for the new Sala book because I’ve been a big fan of hers since the first book I picked up. However, I’m not too sure that this series is one that I am going to be able to be totally on board with. I thought Sala could make me enjoy some hillbilly romance, but alas it’s just not happening.

Beth’s life gets thrown into shambles after she witnesses a murder by a notorious crime boss and gets put into federal protective custody. After the third safe house gets found and hit, Beth thinks she would have a better chance of staying alive on her own with her family. She calls her uncle Will and makes arrangements to had home to Kentucky and the Appalachian mountains. The last thing she expects is her childhood sweetheart acting as her protector.

Ryal has always held a torch for Beth, and when he is asked to protect her, he gets the chance to finally put the past to rest. Unfortunately for Ryal, seeing Beth brings back all those old feelings and the last thing he wants to do is let her go again. As the crime boss comes closer to finding Beth, Ryal will have to pull in the family to keep her safe, but will it be enough to keep them both alive?

I don’t even know where to start with this review, as it was both an exciting and hard book to read. From the standpoint of the suspense and mystery, Sala is one of my all-time favorites. I think she writes wonderfully creative mystery stories and keeps the suspense at a level that is both believable and fast paced. I really did love that aspect of the book. I thought the crime boss and his son were a wonderful addition to the story, and I spent more time really involved in the story whenever they were featured. I liked the way their story was resolved, especially with the son.

I think the most difficult part of this book for me is that Ryal and Beth kept referring to each other as kin. It is explained in the beginning of the story that they are related to each other through Beth’s mother’s side of the family, as 4th cousins. But each time they kept referring to each other as kin, family, or cousins, I got a little weirded out. I was down with the redneck romance, until their relationship was referred to ALL the time. It was weird and downright creepy.

All in all this was a weird book to get through. On one hand I really liked the suspense story, and on the other I was a lot weirded out by the romance. While I still think Sala is a wonderful romantic suspense author, I don’t think this series is one that I will continue to read, unless the story moves from off the mountain.
I give Next of Kin a C-


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