Out of Control by Desiree Holt
Publisher: Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (323 pages)
Rating: 4 stars
Review by: Aster
Twenty five years ago Carrie Nolan was the only victim to survive the killing spree of a pedophile. Her life has been frozen in time, and not even a move to a distant city and a name change has healed the wounds that left her emotionally and sexually scarred. Determined finally to reclaim her life, Carrie returns to High Ridge as multi-published crime novelist, Dana Moretti, in hope of asking the questions that would lay her nightmares to rest.
Sheriff Cole Landry, came to High Ridge to escape the horrors of Iraq and Afghanistan, but soon after the sexy author arrives and starts poking her nose into matters best forgotten, his town once again becomes the hunting ground of a ruthless killer. She's sure it's the same man, and he's not all that convinced she's wrong. Keeping Dana safe means keeping her close--very close--under his protection, under him.
Between her sexual need for Cole and the danger lurking behind every stranger's face, her world is spinning out of control.
The "incident" should have destroyed her life. Imagine being kidnapped at seven years old, sexually assaulted and forced to witness your sister's murder. A trauma like that would have destroyed even the strongest of people, but not Carrie Nolan. Now living as Dana Moretti, this brave young woman not only soldiers on, she devotes her life to writing about unsolved crimes and giving fresh eyes to cases that had long since gone cold. Once she realizes she can never truly move forward with her life until she lets go of her past, she shifts her energy to her own unsolved case, which brings her back to the small town where it all happened.
Cole Landry is the sheriff of Salado County, Texas. Retired from the Marines after witnessing more than his share of violence and death, he now spends his days citing speeders, breaking up fights and dealing with occasional shoplifters. All was quiet, until the dead bodies start to pile up. Was this a serial killer? Was this the same man who had plagued their small town twenty five years earlier? Did these killings have to do with the stranger, Dana Moretti, who just arrived in town and completely captivated him?
This was certainly a page turner, while not for the weak of heart. There was much discussion of sexual assault of children - although done in a tasteful and non-gratuitous way - but the subject matter was disturbing, to say the least. That said, it served to make the hero and heroine extremely sympathetic. Dana was a survivor of this monster, a monster who was never caught, and she was battling her own demons along with what seemed to be the entire town to find the answers she was searching for. Cole admired Dana's fortitude, and while he wasn't anxious to dig up old memories, he wasn't opposed to Dana's work and began to believe her theories, while quickly falling for the beautiful city woman.
I will say the suspense element was good, but I did suspect who the killer was as soon as he was introduced. The writing was good, giving us the point of view of hero, heroine, and killer - with occasional glimpses of his victims, which really amps up the drama factor. Despite occasional typos or editing misses, I was pulled into the story from page one and was kept there until the epilogue finished.
The erotic elements of the book were good, although mostly in dream form. When we got to the eventual coupling of Cole and Dana, the sparks flew, but in a caring and understanding way. Considering Dana's past, which Cole was not aware of, but suspected, he was gentle and patient, but also helped her to move past the hurdles she so desperately wanted to. The love scenes helped to further progress their connection and showed how deeply each felt for the other.
There was one thing I do have to mention the author seemed to focus on a bit too much. Coffee. Every scene in the book, it seemed, had something to do with coffee: making, pouring, drinking, needing, tasting, etc. It was a minor thing initially, although something that I noticed, until it came to a very disturbing part of the story. It had been a long day, murder victim searched for and found, and Dana came home to find her home vandalized. In the midst of Cole comforting her during a breakdown, she asked for a cup of coffee. It unfortunately took me out of the story with a little bit of a chuckle, and that was a bad point to have that happen. I think it was the repetitive nature of it that made me take note of how often coffee was mentioned. Seems something silly to mention in a review, but it became a big distraction that kept me from losing myself in the story.
Most of the major questions are answered by the end of the story, although it does seem there were a couple loose ends that the reader doesn't exactly know how were tied up. Despite the minor elements, this is a good story, a fantastic hero and heroine who are perfectly suited for each other, and a thrilling, page-turning read.