Review copy via netgalley
Destiny Romance (Penguin), August 2012
Synopsis- Nineteen years after a devastating crime almost killed her, Erica Lawrence has returned home. In the small mountain town of Olinda, her story is legend. And now everyone knows she’s back, including top cop and childhood best friend, Jordan Hill, the first and only person to ever touch her guarded heart.
When a woman goes missing and her body is found brutally murdered, fear swallows the town. And suspicion soon turns on Olinda’s newest resident: Erica. As the cop in charge of the murder investigation, Jordan has to face the awful truth that the prime suspect is the woman he always swore to protect. While Jordan and Erica struggle with their feelings for one another, the murders mount up and the tension grows. Not only that, but Erica has a dark secret that she’ll do anything to stop Jordan from finding out…
Small Town Storm is a gripping read that captures the intensity and passion of first love and the terror of a town where trust has broken down. This is the unforgettable story of a lifelong romance, and of an innocent childhood tainted by evil that won’t let go.
Review- Small Town Storm is one of the first romantic suspense titles to be published by Destiny Romance, the new digital-first imprint from Penguin. It’s very encouraging that Australian publishers are beginning to appreciate the popularity of romance novels in Australia and are committed to publishing stories about Aussies in local settings. Small Town Storm is set in the suburb of Olinda in the Dandenong Ranges, Victoria.
Erica Lawrence returns to her Olinda, her hometown after a long stint in Sydney. She hopes to find answers to her past and the reason why her mother tried to kill her nineteen years prior. She doesn’t expect to recruit her childhood best friend Jordan Hill in her inquiry who claims he too needs closure from the traumatic events that led to their separation nearly two decades prior. She also doesn’t expect to become prime suspect in a murder investigation led by the one and only Leading Senior Constable Jordan Hill.
Erica and Jordan have a rocky start, both are flooded with memories of the past and intense emotions they struggle to contain. They both find the past keeps dragging them back and it gets in the way of their ability to have a friendship in the present. They are both quite complex and interesting characters. I empathised immediately with Jordan and I think it was easier to connect with him because his emotions were far more palpable and exposed. He’s really hurt and cannot understand why Erica had not made contact with him after she left Olinda, he had presumed her dead. Understandably, he is angry and Erica doesn’t offer answers readily. She is closed off and has many emotional defences to keep her safe from perceived threats. From a secret eating disorder to a severe distrust of people, Erica’s early childhood trauma is impacting on her daily functioning.
Jordan’s ‘hero complex’ gets in the way of Erica’s desire to be independent and even though he really wants to help her through her issues, she doesn’t want to become one of his projects. Most of the time he follows her around like a love-sick puppy, but I liked this sensitive, caring aspect of his tough cop persona. Erica became more likeable as her story unravels and she begins to open up to Jordan and allow him to break through some of her defences.
The murder plot kept me on my toes and I was questioning who the perpetrator was throughout the novel. The disturbances in the small town unsettle the past which both Erica and Jordan hope to put behind them. Though I did feel the motive for the murders was a little far-fetched, it did make sense on one level.
Small Town Storm is a compelling romantic suspense novel by an Australian author with fascinating, well-developed characters and set in a disquieting little town in the Dandenong Ranges.
“I loved this book!”
About the author: Elise grew up on the shores of the Great Barrier Reef and in the shadows of the Blue Mountains. She’s a magnet for unusual accidents, a stubborn optimist and has been writing since she was a kid.
Elise has travelled extensively around Europe, the UK, Southeast Asia, New Zealand and Australia, and each trip altered her irrevocably.
Elise lives near Melbourne in a house full of colour and life. She describes her fur family as a ‘comedy show.’
Small Town Storm is her first book.
This book was read as part of the AWW2012 challenge: