Type: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Pocket Books
My Copy: Sent
Every picture tells a story. But not all of them have happy endings.
As a forensic photographer at the Delphi Center crime lab, Maddie Callahan is used to seeing violence up close, but she’s never before been the target of it. When a freelance photo shoot goes awry, she realizes she may have seen, and perhaps photographed, the kidnapping of a key witness in a federal probe. And although her camera was stolen, Maddie knows she has something that could be even more valuable to investigators.
FBI agent Brian Beckman has spent months investigating a vicious criminal known as the Doctor, only to have a key witness abducted on his watch. Worse, he’s falling for the woman who may be the Doctor’s next target. Maddie’s aloof facade hides a world of hurt that he wants to heal, no matter how much she keeps him at bay. But first he has to protect her from the danger that’s just out of focus, drawing close enough to shoot . . . and kill.
Initially, I felt the premise was a bit tired; the photographer inadvertently witnessing a crime and then falling for the cop. But Griffin deftly handles what easily could have been a stumbling block for this reader, giving us a tightly paced suspense with a very real emotional arc for her hero and heroine.
Maddie is a tough heroine, and without spoiling her back story, she is emotionally closed off from every aspect of her life aside from her job. She is real and damaged and heartbreaking. I’m an impatient reader and I often wanted Maddie to get with the program in the romance department, but Griffin handles her emotional journey realistically and when the moment finally comes for her declare her feelings for Brian… well, it was well worth the wait. Even if I offer that admission grudgingly.
Brian is a former military man, now an FBI agent, and his key witness has been kidnapped. His feelings of guilt, and the subsequent over protectiveness with Maddie, all felt genuine and helped give the reader an insight into the man who holds duty and honor above all else. He pursues our heroine with a calm patience, and not a little bit of calculation, throughout the length of the novel. I really enjoyed Brian as a fairly uncomplicated hero, which was a nice foil for the hot mess that is Maddie as our heroine.
Again, I was impatient for the romance to build, but Griffin takes her time and it gives the reader a truly realistic relationship arc. The steam level is very low, but it fit with the Griffin’s writing and I didn’t mind the barely there sex scenes. They may not have been steamy, but they were full of emotion and progressed the story and your understanding of these two people in ways I hadn’t expected.
Additionally, the suspense aspect of the book was well researched, without being overbearing and losing the reader in the details. It was tightly paced, and though I didn’t feel a great rush to sprint to the finish line, I was pleasantly surprised with the little bit of a twist to the villain(s) that was offered in the final pages of the book. I’m also a squeamish reader and have triggers, so I will often skip a romantic suspense on the chance that it could be too much for me to handle. And I’m happy to report, though there is violence as expected and a kidnap victim that we meet from her own perspective, there was nothing triggering in terms of sexual violence.
Overall, Griffin has a winner on her hands and all romantic suspense readers should consider this book for their TBR pile.
I give Exposed by Laura Griffin 4 out of 5 stars.