Beguiled, a romantic suspense by Deeanne Gist and J. Mark Bertrand, published by Bethany House.
Rylee Monroe is a young, beautiful dog-walker for the wealthy families who live along the Battery on the waterfront in Charleston, South Carolina. Rylee, alone in the world except for a grandmother with Alzheimers (who lives in a nursing home), is drawn to the area where she had lived as a child with her parents. The suspense builds quickly when Rylee is followed and threatened; her car broken into; and even her personal possessions stolen from her apartment. At the same time, a thief is stealing unusual antiques, not necessarily the most expensive ones, from the homes of the families for whom Rylee works. Rylee quickly gets on the wrong side of the local police chief, who suspects Rylee, the one person in town with the keys to each of these mansions.
Deeanne Gist's contribution is immediately apparent. The book is first a love story, with lots of physical description of the love-interest characters (rippling muscles, the hero; beautiful hair and skin, Rylee), which, I think, gets in the way of the story. ((My eighteen-year-old daughter thinks so, too)). But Gist, who writes wonderfully-researched historical romances, creatively weaves her love of history into the contemporary setting of historical Charleston. I love her use of family photographs (Rylee's grandmother's photo albums), memories (Rylee's and her grandmother's), and unique items lifted from the old mansions that turn up to implicate some of Charleston's elite in the disappearance of Rylee's parents and her inheritance.
J. Mark Bertrand's contribution is immediately obvious in the overall suspenseful mood of the story. Within the first five pages, Rylee stumbles into a bedroom being burgled by the "Robin Hood" burglar, and hides in a bathroom with her only protection, a small dog, awaiting the police. The suspense builds and the story goes quickly, because you have to keep reading to find out what happens next.
I love suspense novels, and I love history--so, I enjoyed Beguiled. I think you will, too.
Deeane Gist's website: http://www.deeannegist.com/
J. Mark Bertrand's website: http://www.jmarkbertrand.com/