These days it’s not often I pick up a romantic suspense to read as my tastes run towards contemporary and sci-fi and fantasy. Yet there was something about Shattered’s blurb that caught my attention. I’ve heard great things about Cynthia Eden and while I really enjoyed Shattered with its action-packed suspense and super creepy characters, I did myself a disservice by not reading the previous two books in the series, which resulted in missing the setup and tension between the hero and heroine.
Sarah Jacob’s is a profiler for LOST, an organisation who investigates and finds lost people. Because of Sarah’s dark and twisted history with her father, a psychopathic serial killer, she is able to profile and get into the minds of individuals. Sarah still carries many scars from her past and she has her feelings of guilt. She’s never had deep attachments in her relationships because she’s never been able to shred away the fact she is Monster Murphy’s daughter. But Jax Fontaine gets under her skin and she is drawn to this sexy criminal with a dangerous reputation. He also has oodles of money!
I really liked Sarah and her passion and agency in finding and catching killers. She used her father’s manipulation to profile killers and help catch them. The beginning of the book was brilliantly eerie and horrific from Sarah’s childhood that showed how twisted her father was towards the world. A very marked difference to how he treated Sarah; the one person he loved and cared for the most. But he loved her in his own deranged and unique way by training Sarah subtly to become like him. It was super, super creepy. Her father trained her observational skills and tried to turn her into a killer and hunter like himself. Cynthia Eden does disturbing effectively.
Jax Fontaine is sorta like a mini Roarke in some ways, which is not a bad comparison at all. But again because I haven’t read the previous two books I missed out details about Jax in the present and I didn’t have a fully formed picture of his character and what made him really tick. From the beginning of the book Jax wants Sarah badly and is very blunt and forward in saying so. Jax is a hero who has the classic alpha protector going on, with the possessive “she belongs to me”. Jax goes after Sarah but she’s not ready for where Jax wants them to go emotionally and in some ways sexually because of how deep their attraction is. It scares her. She leaves him after one night of explosive sex but that doesn’t deter Jax. Then the suspense kicks in and Sarah’s life becomes in danger and Jax uses all of his resources in protecting her. But Sarah won’t stand back, not when it turns out her father’s past becomes her present. Sarah at times is forced to judge Jax’s character in relation to the killer as Jax has his own demons in his past with his mysterious childhood. He clawed his way out from altercations when he was battered down. It left him determined to rise to the top.
Eden balances the romance nicely with the suspense. Sarah and Jax’s romance never felt as if it got in the way of the suspense plot. For a great romantic suspense to work for me, it has to be the main focus otherwise it’s a dud. All of the small details and plots fitted in together neatly, and did I mention Eden does creepy very well? I only have two critiques. One: I found the main bad guy’s POV to be a little overdone in character tone. And two: There seemed a surplus of bad guys towards the end, with one too many cooks in the kitchen, as the saying goes. I felt it diluted the impact of the central bad guys. Sarah’s father was creepy to the max and made for a very effective bad guy. The ending left me like, woah, I did not see that coming.
All in all while I found Shattered a little slow in the beginning, I found myself really enjoying this book and will definitely read more in the series and will go back and read the previous two at some point. At times I guessed wrong on who the bad guy was and now I can ship two characters that I’m hoping will have a book of their own.
I give Shattered a B.