As I began reading this novel, I instantly became chilled down to my very soul. The first chapter alone was disturbing, and I could not help but be driven by a compulsive desire to find out what may happen next. For me, when such feelings arise within the first few pages of a novel, I know I am more than likely in for a treat. Well, Cynthia Eden’s novel did not disappoint. It was gritty, suspenseful, devastating, tricky, and written phenomenally with just enough romance to make me smile.
The novel follows the story of one woman fighting for her memories, and struggling to survive. Eve Gray, our heroine, walks into the facility known as LOST (Last Option Search Team), searching for Gabe Spencer’s help. Initially, one might think the story would be similar to others, but instead of Eve looking for a lost loved one, she is attempting to solve a unique mystery: her own identity. However, this is not a simple case of amnesia, but rather memory loss caused by severe physical and mental trauma.
Eve is strong, willful, beautiful, and a true heroine that proves that strength is found during even the most ominous times. For her, strength comes from the need to find who she is, to learn the truth behind her missing memories that are brutalizing her mentally. When she comes to Gabe, she is lost, confused, and terrified. Though she cannot remember anything, she feels cautious, uncertain, and disturbed by her need to run for safety. Gabe grounds her, and makes her feel not just desire (which she cannot remember ever feeling), but a need for companionship. Where Eve is unsure, Gabe is controlled, professional, and direct. These two had chemistry from the very beginning, and with each personal moment between them, the heat burns into a graceful, yet powerful fire.
I loved Eve for her absolute honesty and daring nature, while I loved Gabe for his honorable and unwavering loyalty. Both characters are beautifully written to the point where I was ecstatic to watch their relationship grow, and learn more about them as individuals. Gabe has an intense reaction to Eve, and he struggles to be detached from his feelings for her, though this proves impossible. What is intriguing is actually the reasoning behind his own belief that he is not as a good a man as Eve believes him to be. Later on in the novel, we learn why he does not see himself as an honorable man, but if anything it just makes him that much more loveable. Gabe is more than just a hero, and more than an ex-Seal. He is the perfect picture of a broken hero who seeks redemption. As the reader, however, you know he is truly a version of what it means to be a man of imperfections, who is actually a dream come true despite his moments of weakness.
The story may begin with Eve going to LOST for help, but as you continue to read, it becomes clear that the plot is much larger than you initially thought. With Eve believing that she is the only survivor of the infamous Lady Killer and his sick, demented need for murder, she is still a target. She is still being hunted like an animal without being truly aware of it, and she is the key to bringing this serial killer to justice. Beginning in Atlanta, Georgia but ending in her hometown of Dauphin Island, Alabama, this story is an amazing mix of twists, turns, and shocking revelations.
Honestly, I was shocked right from the beginning when I was enveloped in the serial killer’s mind, experiencing Eve’s torture. Initially, the slow trickle of information providing us with insight into Eve’s recovery and medical issues left me guessing and undeniably curious. Then, someone innocent and loyal to Eve is murdered, causing havoc to Eve’s sensitive mental state. Once this occurs, Eve and Gabe, as well as the entire LOST team, travel to Eve’s hometown to attempt memory recovery and possibly trap the killer. At this point, as the reader, I already wanted the murdering SOB to be dead twice, and shoved in a hole, as will you I am sure.
As he is still after Eve (who you come to know as Jessica Montgomery, but still Eve), she comes into contact with him a couple of times without even being aware of it. The psychopathic male taunts her, and plays a very twisted game of cat and mouse, so to speak. There are no hints as to who the killer may be throughout probably the first half of the story. Even more amazingly, I would be surprised if anyone figured out the future of the story and its characters prior to the actual moment the killer is revealed. Hell, I thought a few times I had figured it out, or that I had some inkling as to what may come; put simply, I was wrong.
Now, I must take some time to provide some information on the entire team of LOST as I feel it is necessary. These secondary characters are absolutely precious to the story; I loved them all. Sarah who is sharp, smart, and sees clues where others would not, is the psychologist and criminal profiler. As a graduate in Criminal Justice, and lover of all things regarding the psychological deficiencies of those we would call sociopaths and murderers, I fell hard for her character. She is tough and dedicated, and I am hoping we get to delve deep into her past and discover what brought her to the team more thoroughly (and maybe see her find love?). The other female character, Victoria, is just as interesting, but we do not see her as much in the book as I would have liked. She is a forensic anthropologist, utilizing methods regarding the bodies and their evidence, to determine how and why someone is dead. With that said, I also find her professional title unique, and I want to see more of her as well.
As for the two male members of the team, there is Dean and Wade. Dean is a prior FBI agent, and very threatening, as well as quiet. Though he was in the book quite a bit, he was pensive. His nature left me wondering, curious about him as there was not as much of a background story on him, unlike Wade. Wade, on the other hand, burns in my memories. Him, yeah, I really want to get to KNOW him, if you know what I mean (laughs). I imagined personal torture behind his intense demeanor, and I fell for him. Not only is he Gabe’s best friend, but he is so blatantly loyal and true down to his marrow. There were a few moments from his perspective where his soul shined brightly for us to see, and I wanted his company if only to help him heal. Of course, as Gabe’s closest confidant it makes sense that there was more information and interaction with him, which may explain my connecting more with him than Dean. However, as stated earlier, all of the LOST team members are crucial to the success of the story.
From Georgia to Alabama, there is danger, suspense, murder, attraction, and emotionally charged scenes full of desire. The story was well-paced in transference between settings. The second half of the novel shocking me to my core with worry over Eve and Gabe’s safety, and one other member of the LOST team as well. The killer is meticulous in his tracking of Eve, and his implementation of catching other women for torture. Though such disturbing facts about the villain were obvious from the beginning, these truths became shockingly clear on Dauphin Island as the killer grew bolder. He finds other ways to watch Eve. Furthermore, he is a step ahead of the team consistently, has more resources than one would expect, has partnered with an unknown source, attempts to slaughter unexpected characters, and brings a horrific fight rendering death to Eve’s front door (with Gabe in the middle). Yes, I screamed at the book with an expletive; more than once…in a good way though! In the end, all I could say to myself was “damn, this was book was good, no amazing.” I cannot wait for the next!
**ARC provided by Publisher**