Addicted to Love by CJ West (Romantic Thriller)
Wes Holliday had travelled to his parents’ summer home in Highland Falls to lick his wounds and ponder his next steps. The scion of the wealthy & prestigious Holliday family has just severed a romantic relationship with his girlfriend of 10 years and sold off his successful landscaping business for a cool chunk of change. So why does he feel so lost.
Barely three weeks back in town and Wes finds himself caught up in a torrid affair with Leah, a young beautician, and in the middle of a murder spree the likes of which this small town has never seen. Wes is appointed temporary Sheriff by the City Council while they try to locate a replacement for the now deceased sheriff – the murder spree’s first victim. But can Wes solve the mystery behind these murders before more people get hurt?
West has delivered a romantic thriller that strives to combine romantic love scenes with a grisly murder mystery. The story is interesting and engaging as we watch Wes struggle with his lack of police skills, his deep seated nostalgia for the town, and a torrid romance that has him physically and emotionally overwhelmed. As the story unfolds and more victims fall prey to the murderer, we feel Wes’s blinders begin to fall off as he attempts to comprehend the extent of the crime encompassing this small bucolic town. This story pays homage to novels like THE STEPFORD WIVESwith a town overrun with couples so happily in love for so many years; you start to wonder if there is something in the water.
My concerns with the novel center on a few basic issues. The novel is uneven in pace and often repetitive in language. The first 17 chapters could easily be consolidated into a much tighter package providing stronger world building for the novel. The protagonist, Wes is not the most intelligent of characters and seems to be the last one to realize what and who are behind these crimes. Several sub arcs are distracting and seem to lead nowhere including the news that Leah gave a daughter up for adoption 12 years earlier.
The story would benefit greatly from a strong foil to Wes’s good guy caught in the middle of something too big for him to handle. A town newspaper journalist or reporter would have been a great foil – asking questions, pointing out inconsistencies, and revealing town gossip that leads to breakthroughs in the case.
The murder scenes are bloody and the buildup of suspense is steady. The romantic relationship between Wes & Leah is not very developed so it didn’t grab me too strongly.
But the ending – the ending had me scratching my head for a few days; even inspiring a dinner conversation along the lines of – what would you do in their position?
Addicted to LOVE is a romantic thriller perfectly suited to the reader who enjoys an easy going mystery that is not explicitly sexy.