Cedar Hill, Book 2
Review of Cedar Hill, Book 1
Heat Factor: Steamy and Angsty and Hair-Raising (Oh, MY!)
Character Chemistry: They’re like a mix between a well-worn couple who knows one another well and brand new lovers who don’t know what they’re doing (but in a good way)
Plot: Sally’s super busy running her dog rescue, earning her long-overdue degree, and raising her son alone. Then she starts getting stalker-y notes and her previously tepid friendship with Jim, the town’s veterinarian, turns into something more as he works to keep her safe.
Overall: This book was just…stressful. Will they, won’t they, will they before she’s murdered, how can they afford all those take-out dinners, is she going to finish her paper with all this drama going on, just…so stressful.
I stupidly started reading this at about 8:00pm on a Sunday and I’m not proud to say that I was still reading at 12:30am. I generally avoid romantic suspense simply because it takes only the tiniest hint of nefarious activity for me to lose the ability to sleep, and I’m really committed to my sleep.
In reality, I think it’s somewhat obvious that all romance novels are built on suspense – even if there aren’t stalkers or murderers or evil twins or the threat of debtor’s prison, we’re stuck waiting to see how things will unfold to bring us to the result we’re craving. For this particular book, Susan Craig keeps the romantic suspense in lock-step with layers of situational suspense. Right when the stalking starts to get really disturbing and you’re counting on the stability of old Sally/Jim, she cranks up the complications with our couple and it’s just extremely uncomfortable (and impossible to put down). There are so many details feeding into this stress – she has a paper to write, a business to run, a child to care for, friends, two potential lovers – just a lot to fuss over, and you need to know how it ends.
It was also interesting that in the beginning of the book, our hero, Jim, clearly thinks of himself as this older, benign, uninteresting man. When Sally needs someone to protect her, he shifts into someone else entirely – someone rugged and unyielding and calculating with very specific military skills, and although the shift is necessary and welcome it also really complicates things for them. Does Sally only love Jim because he’s her safety? How’s Jim going to handle the way Sally fumbles her way out of grieving for her deceased husband?
I will say that there were small chunks of the book where I got frustrated with both characters. At one point, Jim shamelessly pressures and manipulates Sally into letting him stay the night using her son in order to protect them. I get the need, but this type of manipulation is just not attractive. And I’m not going to spoil it, but let’s just say at one point Sally is a real dingbat (and I do NOT use that lightly). However…we have on our hands two imperfect characters with a whole host of other issues (sleep deprivation and all that), and frankly I just did not have time to dwell on it amidst my other readerly worries. I mean, heck, I was once so exhausted I tried to eat my lipstick on the way in to work because I thought it was a banana. I feel you, Sally and Jim. Sometimes you just have to let messy characters be messy, amiright?
Anyway, if you want to stay up all night reading, this is a great bet – I’m really curious to see how Susan Craig handles Cedar Hill Romance Book 3!
I voluntarily read and reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. We disclose this in accordance with 16 CFR §255.
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