Innocent Prey - Maggie Shayne

Innocent Prey

by Maggie Shayne
Book 3 of Brown and de Luca

To save innocent lives, they'll have to risk their own.

Self-help superstar Rachel de Luca and Detective Mason Brown have finally given in to their overwhelming attraction to each other, but neither of them is ready to let physical passion turn into full-blown romance, so they carefully maintain an emotional distance. Then a judge's daughter disappears, and Mason has a terrible sense that it's connected to the most recent case they solved together: the abduction of Rachel's assistant.

The discovery of a string of missing women—all young, all troubled—seems like a promising lead. But there's no clear connection between the missing girls and the high-profile young woman Mason is trying to find. He realizes that once again he'll have to rely on his own well-honed instincts and Rachel's uncanny capacity to see through people's lies in order to catch a predator and rescue his captives. But can they do it before Rachel becomes his next victim?

About halfway through the book, I sent my BFF a recommendation for this Brown and de Luca series telling her that she really needed to start reading these books.  I think they would be right up her alley with a nice balance of crime thriller to romance, and not too much explicit sex (which would be much more to her liking than any of the other more racy romantic suspense books I've recommended in the past).  There's the blind bulldog, Myrtle, and a lot of family interaction between Rachel, Mason, and the teenagers.

Actually, there are no explicit sex scenes whatsoever in these books, which really dampens the heat level of the book in my personal opinion, but it doesn't usually stop the chemistry between our main couple from being good.  I mean, I don't need sex scenes in my romances to make them good romances, but the relationship between Rachel and Mason so far has been based on some invisible bond the two share that I'm not entirely feeling.  It shows that they work well together, and they banter like the best couple in the world.  We don't really get the explicit sex scenes, but the two talk about screwing like bunnies a lot throughout the book.

But there's still something about their romance that seems to be missing a little bit of sizzle.

And no, I don't mean that the books need sex to spice up the sizzle of the main couple's romance.  I've read plenty of other books where the couple convey a great deal of chemistry without sex sprinkled into the mix.  Heck, I've watched a lot of television series and movies where the couple are completely chaste and still seem to exhibit more chemistry than Rachel and Mason have been projecting since the first book.

I just feel like they're missing something.

But that's beside the point, because I really just LOVE this series for so many other reasons outside of the slightly lukewarm romance.  And I say slightly lukewarm if only because I can see where their romance is a great development.  Rachel and Mason make a great couple!  They're an excellent partnership.  They ARE having sex all the time, and they act so naturally around each other that its wonderful!  Again, I'm just not really feeling the sizzle.

But aside from that and some of the cheesy dialogue at the end of the book (as well as a few little quibbles here and there), this book was damn near perfect.  Okay, maybe it wasn't damn near perfect; I still don't like the switching POV narrations.  But I loved the book and I love how the series is developing from Rachel's connection to other organ donor recipients... to something much bigger and badder.

Her self-named "NFP" powers, the acronyms for "Not Fucking Psychic" powers (**snort**), are taking an interesting direction, and somehow managing to convince me of the connection from other stuff introduced since the first book.  And I'm buying it!

I love that the scope of these books are expanding into other potential directions and possibilities.  I love that we get to continue seeing Rachel's character developing with each book.  She has so far gone from a cynic--even about her own self-help books--to a "maybe I'm starting to believe the bullshit I dish out" type of attitude.  And it's great, because even with that, she still maintains her crass personality, the consistent cussing, and an underlying innocence that probably could only be okay on a thirty-something because of her reborn eyesight.

I enjoyed the premise of the main conflict in this particular book as well, and much more so than the first book; although the second book has a much more intriguing criminal mystery.

As per usual, all the characters are great, even with the introduction of new characters, and more book time by recurring characters.

And then there's the snark and the awesome that is Rachel de Luca.  I mean, sure, she goes a little overboard in her mind meanderings throughout the narration sometimes, but I've come to expect it and I love her all the same.  Myrtle is awesome!  The kids are cute.  Mason could use a little more tweaking because he's coming off as Mr. Perfect with the proper romance novel hero flaws--he had so much more depth to his personality throughout the first two books, and he kind of fades into the background in this one.

And I also miss Amy, Rachel's assistant who doesn't really make an appearance at all in this third book.

But mainly, I just loved reading this.  A lot.


2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge
COYER Summer Vacation 2016 -- Bingo Board Three | Square C1 -- Paranormal
Can You Read a Series in a Month? Challenge