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WhiskeyintheJar Romance

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"She thought it over, but couldn’t see any immediate loopholes other than the threat of her inner slut emerging, and she could darned well control that little bitch."— Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Beneath the Surface by Melynda Price

Beneath the Surface - Melynda Price

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

While in Haiti, freelance journalist Quinn Summers stumbles upon a sex trafficking ring. Gathering as much evidence as she can, she mails her SD card to her sister and has a meeting with an U.S. attorney general. Leaving that meeting not sure she can trust the government, she makes it back to her apartment to discover her roommate has been murdered and the killer left her a message telling her she will be next. Fearing for her life she contacts her sister and her brother-in-law tells her to go to Asher Tate.
Former Special Forces and just found not culpable in a massacre his security team was involved in, Asher doesn't want to deal with the shrew he meet at his friend's wedding. With her life in danger though, Asher knows he has to protect Quinn.
As they try to find out who is behind wanting her dead, Quinn and Asher fight their mounting attraction.
Beneath the Surface started out with a thrilling pace, we know Quinn has discovered something she shouldn't have and know she is in danger, but don't know who or where that danger is going to come from. The scene where she discovers her roommate was chilling and I was locked into the story. The action side of the story started off very strong but the introduction into our characters and how they were connected (why Quinn is going to Asher) stumbled along a bit and felt somewhat awkward. I checked to see if this was second in a series because it felt like I should have previous knowledge of the wedding Quinn and Asher meet at, it's not listed as part of a series but looks to maybe be an off-shoot of one as Quinn's sister stars in her own story in a separate series.
The first 30% of this story was highly engaging but the pace slows down when Quinn arrives at Asher's place and they start trading barbs back and forth. Quinn caught Asher in more than one sexual encounter at her sister's wedding so she thinks lowly of him and Asher thinks Quinn is a shrew because of her very prickly attitude towards him. Quinn had a broken engagement two years ago that has left her bitter and after spending fourteen years in the Special Forces, Quinn has insomnia and drinks more than he should because of the things he has had to do. Quinn's bitterness felt forced while Asher's was more believable but not given enough depth to break him out of the standard cardboard wounded military man. The middle sagged as we get a bit of drawn out hating with heavy lusting between the two. However, by the fifty percent point, they both are declaring they loved one another; it felt rushed and drawn out at the same time. Their interactions consisted of barbs thrown back and forth and then lusting, their relationship didn't have any solid meat to it or layered depth.
The second half goes back to the action suspense storyline with Quinn and Asher dodging the killer chasing them. The pieces for a compelling storyline were there, sex trafficking hidden under the guise of charity work and the question of high up does it go with the people involved. Unfortunately, it all kind of fell apart at the end. Quinn's investigating of who is trying to kill her felt lackadaisical and the puzzle pieces for who, what, and why ended up being jumbled together, with a lot feeling like they didn't quite match up or were missing; it didn't make complete sense in the end.
It looks like this might be one of the first type (suspense/thriller) of story this author has tried writing and I definitely see potential here. Like I said, the beginning was highly engaging, I think the author just needs more experience tying everything together. There were some secondary characters (namely, Asher's brothers) that felt like they might be setting up to get their own stories; it would be interesting to see the author's growth in those.