A Sinister Silent Night
Two female ministers have been shot in the heart of Silver Valley, Pennsylvania. Now Zora Krasny, navy veteran turned undercover operative, is posing as a new preacher. That means her life's on the line, yet it's the only way to smoke out a psychopath. But she's not alone. She's got the best of the Silver Valley P.D. at her side -- Detective Bryce Campbell, the high school boyfriend Zora left behind when she joined the navy. Bryce must pose as her fiancé, so he can stay close and protect Zora. It's a role they're both finding way too easy to play. But with the killer's imminent Christmas countdown, Zora and Bryce can't afford any distractions.
Very good book with excellent suspense and a terrific reunion romance. After her years in the navy, Zora became a counselor and moved back to Silver Valley to open her own practice. She also has a secondary job that no one is aware of, as an undercover operative. She has avoided getting in contact with any of her old friends, especially her old boyfriend Bryce, but now she has no choice. Someone is killing female preachers and Zora's mission is to pose as one to draw him out. As a detective on the police force, Bryce will be playing the part of her fiance, to stay close to her and protect her.
I liked Zora a lot. She's a strong woman with a calling to help people. She's a bit nervous about pulling off her role, but it's working with Bryce that has her emotions all wound up. She still feels badly about the way she broke up with him all those years ago, but at the time she thought it was the right thing to do. Now she discovers that her feelings for him never really died.
Bryce is a terrific guy. He has his own drive to help people, which is what pushed him into law enforcement. He's never forgotten Zora, and he was stunned to find her as the replacement preacher. Right away his protective feelings went from professional to personal. He knows that the only way to keep her safe is to keep his mind on the job, but that's much easier said than done.
I loved the rekindling of their relationship. The fact that they knew each other so well in the past gives them a good place to start getting to know each other as adults. I really enjoyed seeing how easy it was for them to pretend to be engaged. The biggest thing that Zora had to deal with was allowing herself to trust Bryce with the full truth about her past. Once she did that, I loved seeing how emotions that she'd been burying for years started to reemerge. Bryce's reaction to what she told him made me love him even more. His sensitivity to what she'd been through, and his admiration for what she had done were great. I also liked the way that they were determined to keep their personal feelings on hold until after the killer was caught. There were a few slips, but I loved how their dedication kept them focused.
The suspense of the story was fantastic. There was the issue of the guy who was killing the female preachers. I liked the parts where we got his point of view, so that we could see what his motivations were. While his identity was revealed to the reader early, it didn't diminish the story at all. The suspense continued to build as it got closer to when they expected him to strike. The final confrontation was intense, and kept me riveted until it was over.
There was also a secondary storyline involving the reappearance of Zora's mother and if it was connected to the release of some former cult members from prison. I completely understood Zora's reluctance to have anything to do with the woman. I hurt for her after that last scene with her mother. I also suspect that we haven't heard the last about the cult members.
The secondary characters were also good. I liked Zora's boss Claudia, who is an amazing woman and leader. There's an interesting vibe between her and Bryce's boss, the police chief, that I suspect will play a part in a later book. I also liked Bryce's friend Rio. I hope he gets his own story too.