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Monday, January 27, 2014

ARC Review: Deathblow by Dana Marton

Dana Marton’s Broslin Creek novels have been a bit hit-or-miss for me. While I haven’t actively disliked any of them, there have been instances where I’ve been underwhelmed. But with DEATHBLOW Ms. Marton knocks it out of the park, delivering an intense character-driven story rich in emotions and thrills that had me reaching for the tissues—a rarity! Though it’s the fourth book in the series, DEATHBLOW can be read as a standalone: readers will have a better sense of the nature of the small Pennsylvania town of Broslin from having read the previous three novels, but Ms. Marton provides enough context for both the town and returning characters so new readers will not feel lost. DEATHBLOW is not for the faint of heart: in addition to the adrenaline-filled suspense plots, it packs an emotional punch with its heroine and her young son trying to escape an abusive relationship. Anyone for whom domestic violence is a trigger should avoid this book.

Ms. Marton certainly knows how capture the reader’s attention and get the adrenaline pumping: the book opens with hero Joe Kessler—former Broslin football star & town ladies man and current police officer working a dangerous undercover gang case (among other things)—handcuffed in the back of a squad car that has just been pushed off a bridge into the Schuylkill River. She follows that pulse-pounding escape from certain death by introducing heroine Wendy Belle—small-time model and mother to two-year-old Justin—being accosted by the abusive father of her child, Keith Kline, and trying to get him to sign over custody without inciting his temper… all before the end of the first chapter. Wendy’s best friend Sophie (from a previous Broslin Creek novel) convinces her to escape to Broslin and puts Joe on her protective detail… without being aware of their hot single night of passion three months prior. With Joe acting as Wendy’s protector, working the undercover gang case in Philadelphia, trying to find a dirty Philadelphia cop, and working a town homicide—and Keith’s manipulative and violent shenanigans—there is never a lack of action or danger. But where the story really shines is in its protagonists and the developing relationship between them.

On the surface, Joe is the quintessential jock: a small-town football hero with an overinflated ego, his own female fan club, and entirely too many notches on his bedpost. But he’s really a committed cop who feels for the victims and bears the guilt of those he’s unable to save. He’s solid, loyal, incredibly likeable, and fantastic with Justin… and not simply to get into Wendy’s pants again. Even if he undeniably wants to—in fact, he hasn’t wanted another woman since his earth-shattering night with Wendy three months ago, and the attraction between them leaps off the page. His attempts to resist his attraction to her and keep centred on protecting her and Justin are noble (but futile!), and his understanding and patience with her skittishness are incredibly touching. I seriously wanted to give him several hugs… and slap him upside the head for his ridiculously male (albeit understandable) reaction to one tiny little bombshell. I found Wendy to be a three-dimensional, realistic character as well, and thought that Ms. Marton did an excellent job portraying the different facets of an abused woman: the self-esteem issues (despite being physically attractive) brought on by the constant belittling, the belief that the abuse is deserved, the denial and defence of the abuser, the slow process of throwing off the yoke of that overbearing control and learning to believe in oneself again. Watching Wendy reassert her independence, take control of her life, and learn to trust in love again was incredibly rewarding, and I loved how Joe was there to help her without pressure at each step. Despite the scorching attraction between them, the romance is a slow burn—which makes it poignant and realistic—and Joe and Wendy face some wrenching situations that had me reaching for the tissues.

DEATHBLOW is my favourite entry in the Broslin Creek series so far, and I hope future instalments continue in this vein, with the pulse-pounding suspense being perfectly balanced by a rich, endearing, and at times humorous romance.

**ARC provided by Author**

Purchase: | Amazon | Kindle | Barnes & Noble |


  1. Thank you so much for the lovely review, Cris! I'm going to take your advice and keep the series going in the right direction. Wishing you all the best, Dana