Wednesday, March 17, 2010

TBR Challenge Review: Have You Seen Her?

Have You Seen Her?
Karen Rose
Romantic Suspense
Warner Books/February 2004

From the back cover ~


One by one, the girls disappear from their beds at night. Each one is pretty, with long, dark hair. And each one is found brutally murdered.


Special Agent Steven Thatcher has sworn to find the serial killer preying on this small town. As the investigation pulls him one way, his family pulls him in another. A widower haunted by loss, he now worries about his son Brad slipping away. But there's a bright light in his life; his son's teacher, Jenna Marshall, has reached out to help. She's beautiful, kind, and considerate— and slowly, tentatively, she and Steven are starting to fall in love. But both have been hurt before— badly. And as the two try to find the courage to bare their souls, a murderer who has slain many looks for the real treasure he craves. He sets his traps. And waits. For Jenna . . .

This month the suggested themes were historical romance, mystery or fiction. I decide to deviate a little and chose a romantic suspense. So there is that mystery element to the plot plus some romance. The murderer in this case isn't obvious and it's up to Agent Thatcher and his team to figure out who is committing the brutal murders.

The second book in Karen Rose's loosely connected series shows this author hasn't fallen into the sophomore slump. She continues in Have You Seen Her? with Special Agent Steven Thatcher who we met in the first book, Don't Tell. Agent Thatcher is given the lead investigator spot on what's looking to be a serial murderer. A very brutal murderer. The girls are young, pretty and cheerleaders. They leave their homes willingly in the middle of the night since no signs of a struggle are found. What is found are their mutilated bodies.

Agent Thatcher and his family are still feeling the after affects from when his youngest son was kidnapped six months ago. His youngest son Nick can't sleep in his own bed but instead chooses to sleep on the floor. The two older boys seem to be back to normal but are more cautious around Nick. Aunt Helen, who came to live with Steven and the boys after their mother died, is pretty much worried about everyone. Steven feels the pressure at work, having his boss looking over his shoulder and wondering if he's going to crack, makes for a stressful work environment. But Steven feels that he is more than up to the job of finding the murderer of the young girls.

Steven's oldest son, Brad, has been having some problems in school. His grades have been taking a nose dive. Finally his chemistry teacher, Dr. Jenna Marshall calls Steven to discuss his eldest son. Jenna's had a recent encounter with a parent that left her shaken so she's leery when it comes to meeting Steven. No worries, it turns out Jenna has no problem telling Steven what she thinks. I liked their first meeting. Jenna may have ended up on the floor but with an advantage over Steven. She has beautiful legs and wears garters. What is it about men and their love of garter belts? Steven can't get over Jenna's legs. Jenna can't get over the idiot who ran into her. This is one of the things I like about Rose's writing. She deals with a very dark topic and adds the lighter man/woman fumbling of instant attraction to keep that dark/light symmetry. Throughout the book there is a good balance of suspense and romance/family plot.

Steven continues with searching for the killer and Jenna starts getting to know Steven and his sons. Neither one wants anything serious. Steven is worried about bringing someone into the boys' lives only to have that person leave. Jenna is living with the ghost of her deceased fiance. What's interesting is that they both know the way they're living isn't healthy but they can't seem to change. Human nature at work folks! Rose does an admiral job giving Steven a little push here, Jenna a little push there until they realize they don't want to be without the other. Unfortunately lives must "hang in the balance" before that realization comes. :)

The mystery/suspense aspect worked well with a few little quibbles, mainly at the end. Some circumstances that seemed just too unrealistic. There are other circumstances that made me roll my eyes a bit but the overall mystery keep me entertained. I also liked the team members of Steven's group. Their work relationships sometimes carried over into friendships. The role each team member played felt authentic, no extra bodies, everyone had a job to do.

Three secondary characters I liked a whole bunch were Steven's sons. Brad, the eldest is the smart steady one, until he's not. I liked his storyline and the way his emotions were dealt with. Very realistic IMO. Matt, the middle son was easy going, quick with a laugh but wisdom lurked behind the jokes. Nicky is the youngest and most vulnerable. He's got that shyness that can pull you in so easy and make you want to bring a smile to his face. Jenna totally fell for him. I thought the relationships she made with these boys was well written and would have been missed had they been merely skimmed over.

Jenna has a family too, sort of. She has Adam, her deceased fiance's family. This was an odd little group Jenna had. She's very close to her fiance's father and calls him Dad. She has dinner regularly with the fiance's sister and her family. They are a close group and it's good for Jenna because she's not close to her mom and doesn't know her bio dad. But there were times when they suffocated Jenna with the reminders of Adam. This to me, was one of the main reason she had such a hard time moving on.

There is this theme that I seem to be running into lately, just happened with another recent read. It's the projecting a past love's hurtful actions onto the current love interest. I can understand when you get burned and you're cautious but when the past love and the present love are completely different people it can get to the point where it's just overkill. Steven did that to Jenna and it caused him to do some serious damage to their relationship. Really just wanted to smack him over the head a few times.

Ah, even with the few problems, they were minor and I managed to read this in about 24 hours. I was sick and camped out on the couch but still a very engaging story. I can certainly see why Karen Rose has so many fans.

Rating: A-


  1. I just read this one recently and I really liked Steven and Jenna and the boys :D It was such a great story and good balance between the mystery and the romance/human relationships. I even liked Steven's team and I wished we could re-visit them soon :)

    Some thoughts that Steven was a bit over the board with the trusting an jealousy, but I was okay with it :D

    And LOL, I guess men consider garter belts as underwear... and well, they just like underwear, right? :P

  2. nath ~ it's hard to think of Steven and Jenna w/o adding the boys in there.

    Well, you know how I felt about Steven and his trust issue. :)

    LOL - Men are so basic in their needs, right? :D

  3. Okay Leslie, I didn't REALLY read the review because I have this on the little pile of books I'm getting ready to read. *g* BUT, I'm so glad you really enjoyed it... I saw that last paragraph and also your and nath's comments saying that the romance & mystery are well balanced. Yes! I'm looking forward to this one. :)

  4. Hils ~ I think you'll enjoy it. Very complete mystery/romance storyline. :)

  5. I love your review! You put into words exactly what I can't that makes Karen Rose excel with her writing! I love her books! I have to re-read this book because it hasn't been re-read at all where the others all had their turn around the block at least once! Lol.

    Sorry for all exclamations but KR books always get me excited. hehe!

  6. I think blogspot is out to get me. I posted a comment- a long one - and it disappeared! Ugh...hoping it'll show up tomorrow, lol!

  7. Thanks Tabitha! I just thrilled to finally start reading her. Lots of great books to look forward to. :)

  8. I loved this one! The humor in it was a great relief after the neverending tension of the first one. (I read the first 4 books back to back)

    Great review, Leslie!

  9. Lori ~ the humor was well placed, giving the reader a break from the cruelty of the murderer. I'd love to spend a long weekend with Ms. Rose's books. :)

  10. Great review. I have three Karen Rose books in the TBR that I've been meaning to get to. After reading your review, I think I'll take a stab at the first one.

  11. Brie ~ I liked her first one, Don't Tell but thought this one was even better. Enjoy!

  12. Leslie, after reading all of Karen Rose's books back-to-back and having my own private little "book club" meeting (by reading what other readers thought of Rose's books), stumbled upon your blog. Although have only read two of your reviews so far, must say that your site is very impressive and I have put it on my "Favorites" menu.

    This review is excellent!