Thursday, December 10, 2009

Review: Don't Tell

Title: Don't Tell
Author: Karen Rose
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Published: Grand Central/July 2003
Source: Purchased

From the back cover ~


It was a desperate plan. But Mary Grace Winters knew the only way to save herself and her child from her abusive cop husband was to stage their own death. Now all that remains of their former life is at the bottom of a lake . . .


Armed with a new identity in a new town, she and her son have found refuge hundreds of miles away. As Caroline Stewart, she has almost forgotten the nightmare she left behind nine years ago. She is even taking a chance on love with Max Hunter, a man with wounds of his own. But her past is about to collide with the present when her husband uncovers her trail and threatens her hard-won peace. Step by step, he's closing in on her— and everything and everyone she loves.


First a shout out to nath for recommending this author. After one book I'm hooked! Rose does an admirable job combining the suspense with the romance, balancing the two so I never felt that either was lacking. The antagonist is known right from the start, it's what his next move will be that kept the novel suspenseful. The romance between Max and Caroline was interesting because of how each characters' past continued to have such a strong influence on their current relationships.

Caroline Stewart has faced horror and adversity that no one should ever have to live through. She not only lived through it, she survived it, barely. She's a likable woman with a few close friends and a love for her son above all else. She's young, only 30, but has a maturity due to the situations she found herself in at a young age. Caroline is a woman that comes across as kind and considerate to others but also a very private person. She keeps her distance from what would be considered eligible men and prefers to form ties with older, "safe" men. Men that would hold no romantic interest in her. So when Max comes along she is leery of him but also finds herself attracted to him.

Max had this presence when he walked into the room. He was very tall, 6'6, and not a man easily overlooked. He is friendly but has no problem taking charge when he needs to. He has a past that still haunts him and uses a cane to help him walk. Max has some very major baggage that he allows to color his decisions regarding career and personal life. He went from being top of his game to losing practically everything he loved. It's been years but he still feels the guilt and loss and can't seem to get past it. It's like everyone else has moved on, why can't he? At times this drove me nuts to the point where I wanted Max's brother, David, to smack Max upside the head.

The relationship between Max and Caroline had just the right amount of hesitancy from both of them to make it believable given their past experiences. They stayed true to character and didn't pull a 180 with their pasts suddenly becoming less significant than they were before they met. Rather, Caroline still had concerns with her developing relationship with Max and how it will effect her son Tom. I thought it was a gutsy move on the part of the author to have Max be such a large man. It was shown quite clearly how his size affected Caroline at first and how she was able to overcome that fact and get to know this man that could tower literally over her.

Then there is the big bad nasty who still haunts Caroline. Her abusive husband is trying to come back into her life but first he has to find her. Rose makes it very clear through his words and his actions that this guy is a fanatic when it comes to control. Control of women and anyone who he deems less than him. He doesn't seem to have any limits on what he will do to maintain that control. That, for me was the truly scary part of his character. You don't know what he will do and you get to the point where you have to think he will do anything to get Caroline and more importantly, his son back. This is a guy you don't want to cross. Not only is he extremely abusive, he's a cop. So what do you do when threaten by a cop? Tell another cop? How do you know who to trust? That's what Caroline had to overcome. Rose does an admirable job of getting the reader inside this guy's head and trying to make sense of his twisted logic.

The secondary characters play such crucial roles in the romance and the suspense of the story. There's Dana who runs the shelter where Caroline and Tom get help starting their new lives. And there's Special Agent Steven Thatcher. He's one of the good guys and has the difficult job of unraveling the threads that lead back to what really happened to Caroline and Tom. And of course there's Tom. He's an interesting character for many reasons but one is that he's on the brink of becoming an adult. We get to see his very adult protectiveness towards his mother as well as his need for her to still be his mother.

Karen Rose has a wonderful website. It's the kind of site I like because it has not only information on each of her books but she has a page that shows how each book is related. Who the main and secondary characters are and where/how they show up in other books. I love charts, graphs and family trees when it comes to linked books. I just wish I had looked at this sooner, then I would have known about a certain character in Don't Tell.

This is not a short novel, coming in at 482 pages for the paperback, but it went by fast for me. If you're looking for a good book that combines romance and suspense then give Don't Tell a try.

Rating: A


  1. Yay!! I am so glad you enjoyed this one. I love Karen Rose. Her books are very well plotted and the characters are great. I plan on reading one of her books for the TBR Challenge this month.

  2. Jill ~ Yes, I've joined the Rose fan group. LOL Looking forward to reading your review. :)

  3. OMGosh! You have such good reading ahead of you!!!

    Enjoy every second of it. She rocks!

  4. Lori ~ I believe you! I don't think I've read one negative review for Rose. I've got all of her books - either own or can get at the library. So I'm set!

  5. Leslie, I have Rose on my list of authors to read for next year. It's all Nath's fault, lol! I'm so glad you enjoyed this book, I'm looking forward to reading Karen Rose too. :) This looks SO good!

  6. Hils ~ we'll blame nath. LOL Thankfully, she has very good taste!

  7. So glad you enjoyed it, Leslie!! :D Karen Rose is a great author :) and seriously, ladies, this is a blame that I am ready to take responsibility for :D

    And Lori is right, you have a lot of good readings ahead of you :D Some are a bit more suspense than romance, but Ms Rose is usually good at balancing the two... and her suspense can be very creepy.

  8. nath ~ All Your Fault! LOL Hey, I like creepy suspense. I like it when the author keeps me guessing.