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.
Reece Winchester is an award winning director and when he spies a woman on a security camera feed, he's immediately drawn to her.
Jessica Jensen loves her sister and when she pops into an art gallery to pitch her sister's work and they agree to set-up a meeting, she is ecstatic. When Jess finds out that her sister's art show might all have been an elaborate plan orchestrated by Reece, she is wary but still drawn to him.
As these two try to build a future, their pasts are creeping in more and more.
“You feel it, too. I know you do,” he growled.
The first in the Hollywood Heat series, I'll Be Watching You, was full of intensity, plot threads, and shadowy characters. The beginning was gripping with Reece having his house burned down with arson suspected. The reader learns early that Reece was a popular childhood actor, along with his siblings. His older sister died from a possible suicide when she was sixteen and his twin brother Rowan and younger brother Raine work in law enforcement and security protection now. There is instantly a feeling of darkness and deep hidden secrets about this family's past. Some details are scattered through in the first half but important information is saved until the end, which I think helped keep the mysterious grim tone but also clogged the story with numerous red-herrings.
While Reece had a powerful enigmatic presence, Jess held her own in the story with her vibrancy. She has her own complicated background with losing both parents young, entering the foster care system, and eventually being adopted by a loving family that gave her a bestfriend and sister. Jess also has an ex-boyfriend that can't handle that they broke up and has been stalking her, more added danger to the story. Jess is in college, as an aspiring screen writer and gets an offer for an internship at Reece's production company. At this point, she has met him, learned of how he orchestrated it all after seeing her on a security camera, and massively distrusts him because of how the whole thing went down. She also has her college professor telling her not to trust Reece at all, which has her wondering why there is bad blood between Reece and the former director and now professor.
Reece Winchester didn't just want to keep her.
He loved her.
If you're keeping track, Jess has a stalker ex-boyfriend and a possible shady professor feeding her lies while Reece has a possible crazed fan that burnt down his house and mystery surrounding his sister's death, now let me add Reece's sister's ex-boyfriend who has possible bad blood with Reece and his brothers and Reece and Jess getting shot at and thinking it might be an employee Reece just fired. There are shady character red-herrings galore, probably too much. I think part of the issue is that this is a first in a series and some of these red-herrings and plot points are going to play out in preceding books that star Reece's brothers; their sister's death is the thread that is going to tie this series together. All of this pushed the romance to the sidelines too much for me. There are great glimpses at Jess and Reece's banter and chemistry but ultimately, their relationship felt more lusty and I didn't completely buy their love. Reece also more than toes the line with being too controlling, Jess calling him on it and Reece giving a pretty good apology for how he set-up their first meeting, saves this toeing a bit.
There are multiple povs that give the reader insight into characters and help add emotion to the atmosphere but there were also times where it felt like there were too many cooks in the kitchen. I couldn't completely believe in this couple's love but the story and writing was engrossing. If you like dirty secrets and revelations held close to the vest, I'll Be Watching You would be a good introduction to a series that looks to be full of such intrigue.
All because of the beautiful stranger he'd spied through a camera. One he would never have seen if not for the fire, pre-dawn flight, and his presence here in the gallery this morning, at the perfect moment.
He couldn't have planned the scene better if he'd tried.
It was as if it were meant to be.