Endless Night

by Maureen A. Miller

4.5 Stars

Fantastic Romantic Suspense

Endless Night by Maureen A. Miller

Reviewed: August 24, 2011

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Series: N/A

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Length: 74,000 Words

Formats: Kindle, Nook

Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Carina Press via NetGalley. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.

What I Read...

She witnessed a powerful man commit cold blooded murder, then fled when he turned the gun on her. Horrified, terrified for her life, she ran to the police, only to come face to face with proof that powerful men have long reaches. Megan Summers did the only thing she could do, she disappeared. Since then she's been hiding in the remotest location she could find, a weathered house on the outskirts of the coastal Maine town of Victory Cove. It's been a rough, lonely year, a year of tension and stress, of preparation, of living in seclusion and training herself, readying herself as best she can. Waiting for the phone call that she's always known would come.

When it rings, Megan knows. He's coming.

Receiving a letter from the woman who claims to be his mother shook electrical engineer Jake Grogan to his foundations. He'd known he was adopted since he was young but never wanted to give it much thought. Suddenly having a place to look, a source of information about his heritage, a name and location to start, meant more to him than he'd realized. With his adoptive sister's blessing, he dropped everything and left Boston to check out Victory Cove and find Estelle Wakefield. The woman who may be his grandmother.

He found Megan Summers and Wakefield House. The pretty but tense woman stirs a startling urge to protect within Jake, though from what and why he has no clue. When a nor'easter traps him at the house with her, the mystery of her obvious fear becomes just as tantalizing as his quest for his heritage.

They are strangers drawn together by circumstance, discovering an unwanted but irresistible attraction that could turn the most difficult times in their lives into the greatest happiness. But only if they can weather the threat of a man with no conscience and an intent to kill.

What I Thought...

Fans of romance and romantic suspense should take note of Miller, because this is thrilling reading entertainment. There were so many great moments of pure, quality writing that I found myself in love early on, swept away by the lives of two characters who were exquisitely drawn and fit so very well together.

Miller's writing is a feast for the senses, with lyrical descriptive passages that paint startlingly clear visuals and evoke depth of emotion in sublimely subtle ways. Her grasp of the complexity of human reaction to difficult situations was well evidenced, translated into characters' actions and thoughts with a believablity that is too often lacking. Her characters were real, with their own faults and mistakes made, regrets and disappointments, but they were also both decent, good people at their core, and their actions and dialogue felt very organic and natural to situations of varying emotional intensity.

The romance was exceptionally well done, though it evolved over a very short period of time. That's a pet peeve of mine, so imagine my delight when I realized that the depth of the emotional connection and the surrounding circumstances were so well drawn and thoroughly developed that instead of feeling too rushed, it felt exactly right. I loved Jake and Megan together, and I loved them as individuals. Miller made them both three dimensional and real, and I was fully invested in them and their story as it progressed. I was actually a little stunned at how thoroughly I was able to understand and sympathize with the actions and decisions that led them to this juxtaposition of their lives, and what they do with themselves after it.

Miller made it all very believable and truly enthralling.

I wish I was as happy with the story elements surrounding the plot thread of the killer. That's the only thing in the whole of the book that didn't work for me. The suspense and the threat the killer posed throughout the book was exquisitely tense and nerve wracking, and every time the phone rang, I clenched my Kindle a little tighter, but the final conflict and the scene of the big reveal fell completely flat for me.

The killer's motivations for the murder didn't interest or shock me, so the mystery solution wasn't very compelling, and the scene of the big reveal was clich├ęd and trite. It did a disservice to the quality of the rest of the book to have the killer and the heroine act out a quintessential bad guy confessional scene while the hero maneuvers to save the day. An odd switch to a choppier narrative flow with jerky little jumps in the timeline during that big reveal scene and immediately following it just compounded the problem and seemed to serve no purpose beyond further obfuscation.

Frankly, though, I don't want to belabor those points, because so much of this book totally rocked my world. Jake was perfect as the nice guy with some issues, protective and intelligent, and Megan was a spectacular heroine. She's strong, and though she's been afraid for a year, she's worked with that fear, honing herself into a weapon and turning her home into a fortress in preparation for a conflict that she's always understood would be a battle for her life. Fear defined part of her character, and so did independence and steely intent. I found her fascinating and sympathetic. And the sexual chemistry and growing emotional intimacy between Jake and Megan was beautiful to read.

There were, in fact, a couple of passages that were so beautifully written that they literally hit me like soft body punches. One in particular sticks out in my mind. Megan has one of her guns in her hand, a gun she's taught herself to shoot and shoot well, one she keeps so close and has in hand so often that the impression of the grip is often found on her palm. She's speaking to Jake:

Slowly, painfully, she lifted it in offering and managed a raspy plea.
"Can you take this? It's grown so heavy."

The wealth and depth of emotion in that one small passage was astounding. With one short bit of dialogue Miller wrenched my gut and made me feel with jagged clarity just how close Megan is to the end of her rope, how worn out she's become by a year of solitude and fear and grim anticipation, and how dangerously close she is to the breaking point. Really simple and subtle, but so layered and complex. And brilliant for it.

Passages like that, and a narrative chock full of different but equally impressive story elements guaranteed that even with the minor grievances I mentioned, Endless Night knocked it out of the park for me. Tripping over truly quality writing in a genre I favor is one of the best treats for me as a reader, and I felt like a kid at Christmas with this gem. Fans of romance will love Jake and Megan, fans of romantic suspense will appreciate the atmospheric tension that permeates the book. I loved both, and know that I'll be searching out more from Miller in the near future.

...and You?

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