Nine years ago Kate Grayhawk Pendelton walked into Wyatt Shaw's life - and out of it the next morning. Now Wyatt's back - and has the power to shatter Kate's future with the man she loves.
By reputation, Wyatt Shaw is a brutal killer who always gets what he wants. And he wants Kate and her twin eight-year-old sons.
Texas Ranger Jack McKinley is hot on Wyatt Shaw's trail. The presumed heir to the D'Amato crime syndicate is threatening to steal the woman he loves.
Holly McKinley is fighting to keep Jack from leaving her for another woman. Now the secret she's kept for over twenty years may save their son's life, and cost her the only man she's ever loved.
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Cover Thoughts: The cover, while very pretty, didn't really have anything to do with the book. However, I enjoyed looking at the beautiful colors and I believe that if I saw SHATTERED at the bookstore, that very beauty would have compelled me to pick it up and read the back cover blurb. So in the end, that's saying something.
Single Title/Series: SHATTERED is book eight in the Bitter Creek Series but can very easily be read as a stand alone novel.
Why I Read It: I was offered a review copy from the publisher.
As a general rule, I'm very picky about what books I'll review for authors/publishers. With my blog I've not only done my best to make it clear both visually and materially, but with my "About Me" as well, that I read romance. Period. However, over the recent months I've been sent some startling review requests for genres I don't read. How someone can take one look at my blog and assume that I want to read a lawyer crime drama is beyond me. Well, unless that lawyer crime drama is about vampires and/or love triangles... Suffice it to say I was very excited to receive a review request for a book that fit my romance reading preferences. And SHATTERED is romance.
Moving on to the review. First off, I have to say that in order to enjoy SHATTERED, the reader has to view it as soap opera. As with all soap operas, they're ridiculous in the extreme but that ridiculousness is also offset by sheer entertainment. With that knowledge, SHATTERED, while sublimely entertaining, also verges a bit towards the ridiculous.
In addition, SHATTERED also goes above and beyond reality. Generally reality isn't what I care about in a novel. As a reader of paranormal romance I'm constantly required to suspend my version of reality in order to enjoy the novels I gravitate towards naturally. To my knowledge, no one reads romance novels in the hopes that it will mirror reality. In my opinion, I get enough of the real on a day-to-day basis to want to scream! I read romance to escape and if a particular book happens to break Nature's rules as we know it then so be it. But, and here's the exception for my own little reading rules, if the book is of contemporary and/or romantic suspense genre, then I expect it to resemble reality closer than I would with paranormal. That being said, I thought that SHATTERED required a suspension of reality to fully enjoy it and that's difficult for this particular genre and perhaps also why it's such a difficult genre to write successfully.
Now back to my soap opera analogy. Generally there are several different interconnecting stories that make up a soap opera and SHATTERED is no exception. I've isolated at least seven different interconnected stories taking place in real time. This means that there are several different Points of View and back stories that are very creatively delivered upon the reader. For this review, I'm only going to highlight a few of the above mentioned seven.
Story One: Wyatt Shaw vs. Kate Pendelton
Kate Pendelton, mother of twin eight-year-old boys and wife to her estranged husband of which the world believes died heroically in Afghanistan, feels that she's finally got her life back on track. With her deranged husband, J.D. Pendelton, hiding out in South America, Kate is ready to move on with her life with Jack McKinley, Texas Ranger. At nineteen, Kate fancied herself in love with Jack but when he turned his back on her to marry his high school sweetheart, Kate found herself running into J.D.'s arms and subsequently into a life of complete heartache. Now that Jack and his wife are on the brink of divorce, the two have found each other once again and have plans to marry. But unfortunately a night from Kate's past shows up on her doorstep in the form of Wyatt Shaw, son of notorious mob boss D'Amato, demanding that his eight-year-old sons and Kate are to leave with him to his compound in San Antonio.
Wyatt Shaw is a gorgeous enigma. He's loved Kate from the very first and after their single night of shared passion nine long years ago, Wyatt did his best to track down the mystery woman that broke open his soul within mere hours of meeting. Now he's found her and he has every intention of keeping her and his sons. With his mob boss father monitoring his every move, Wyatt knows that the old man is looking for new flesh to run his empire. With Wyatt on the outs, D'Amato now has two young boys that he can set his sights on but Wyatt will stop at nothing to protect the two boys he's only just met but has already fallen in love with. Now if he can only get Kate to fall in love with him.
Story Two: Jack McKinley vs. Holly McKinley
Jack McKinley was, at one time in his life, at the ultimate high but after some familial gambling debts recked his promising future, it's been a rough struggle ever since to merely find contentment. Now with his marriage imploding and only one amazing son to show for it, Jack's ready to start a new life with Kate Pendelton. The heartache of their disappointing relationships has brought forth a fierce bond between them and they're each striving for some semblance of happiness in each others arms. But it would seem that the forces of nature aren't down creating havoc when in swoops Wyatt Shaw. Before Jack has time to do anything about it, Kate, her two boys and his promising future are once again ripped from his hands.
Holly McKinley has every intention of winning back her husband. No sooner had she banished Jack McKinley from their home when she realized her error. As a young girl, her father walked out on her mother countless times to eventually never return. Never the trusting type, Holly realized that she'd been methodically pushing Jack away for years and finally, for no real good verbal reason, kicked Jack out. In her mind, she was eliminating the possibility of him leaving her for that's what he'd ultimately do, right? Admitting to herself that she'd been very wrong and with the hands of fate seemingly on her side, she devices a way to have Jack live with her until their divorce is final with plans of seducing her husband back into her bed and her life. But when tragedy strikes, both Holly and Jack will have to overcome huge obstacles or Holly's hope of Happily Ever After will be shattered forever.
Story Three: Kate Pendelton and Wyatt Shaw vs. J.D. Pendelton and D'Amato
Of course Romantic Suspense can't be suspenseful without a few bad guys. Kate's "dead" husband arrives back in the states to try his best to deflect his would be murderer, Mob Boss D'Amato. After faking his death and making off with millions of dollars worth of D'Amato's lucrative drug trade, J.D. needs something to bargain for his life with. In addition, he's out for a bit of revenge his own after discovering that Kate led him to believe that the twin sons she gave birth to were his.
D'Amato, disappointed that his one remaining son, Wyatt Shaw, will not take over his empire, is overjoyed at the fact that he has two previously unknown grandsons. Hatching a plan to subtlety influence the twin boys to his side, D'Amato will stop at nothing to make contact with his would be heirs even if it means he must destroy his last living son in the process.
SHATTERED, despite its girth, is a fast paced read with a topsey-turvey plot that for all its intensity, never leaves you in the dust. Its flamboyant entertainment makes for a good read that's surprisingly captivating. Unfortunately its characters are two-dimensional with either over the top revenge schemes, or they encounter a series of tragic roadblocks that has the reader calling foul.
Wyatt's and Kate's whirlwind relationship of fantastical romance is just a bit too far fetched while Jack's and Holly's romance could have been classified as more tangible if it wasn't for the absolute devastation that Johnston rages upon them.
All in all, SHATTERED is a read I would comfortably recommend but with the accompanying warning that the reader be prepared to suspend their reality with this soap opera-esque romance.
**Contest Closes Thursday, January 21st at Midnight U.S. Pacific Standard Time and a Winner will be Chosen Randomly and Announced Friday, January 22nd**