Merrimon Book Reviews

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From Merrimon Book Reviews
Tainted by Brooke Morgan
by Brooke Morgan
Stunning psychological suspense 

Holly Barrett has not had the best of luck with men. Quiet, shy and serious, she studied more than she flirted in school.  Now a single mom living in a small Cape Cod town with her beautiful young daughter Katy, Holly leads an uneventful life until one morning bus ride when a drop-dead gorgeous man sits next to her. Conversation leads to an impromptu side trip.  Although their first unplanned date ends with a boom, the mysterious Englishman Jack Dane later sweeps her off her feet in a whirlwind.  Even her family cannot resist his charm.  As Holly seeks to carve out a new life for herself and her daughter, disturbances interrupt the potential picture of wedded bliss.  After abandoning Holly when she most needed him years ago, Katy's biological father re-enters the scene, causing friction to the newly formed family.  Jack's parenting skills are awkward and clumsy at best.  Despite these troubles, Holly truly shines with a new confidence now and her family seems whole.  Are these bumps in the road just a normal process of bringing together a family or are they a sign of deeper trouble to come?  Is Jack the wonderful man he appears?  Does his unknown past hide a deep dark secret?  Has Holly made a marriage in heaven or has she just given a dangerous man access to her family?  How far will she go to protect those she loves?

Brooke Morgan's debut novel TAINTED is one amazing work of psychological suspense!  Written in an easy to read beautiful prose style, TAINTED turns romantic fantasy into a shattering nightmare that sends chills through the spine.  One can't help but fall for the characters.  Holly could be any woman.  The questions she asks are questions anyone would ask.  Her hopes are our hopes.  The scenes with her extended family warm the heart and her daughter Katy's innocence is the reader's innocence --- and yet through the author's clever use of perspective change, the reader sees the subtle warnings, the slight disjunctures that hint at trouble on the horizon.  Skillful, emotional twists keep a reader glued to the pages but nothing can prepare a reader for the shocking truth as it unravels.  Scene by scene, Brooke Morgan takes the reader on a wild journey of hope and fear as hints of Jack's mysterious past encroach upon the lives around her.  What a perfect ending!  Brooke Morgan knows how to deliver the final masterstroke that leaves a suspense lover delightfully stunned!

On each and every page, TAINTED is psychological suspense at its best.  Rather than relying on gratuitous gore or horror for shock value, Brooke Morgan builds the suspense by delving into her characters' deepest dreams and fears.  Each twist and turn, each change in point of view is expertly handled for maximum effect.  Brooke Morgan reveals just enough to keep a reader on the the edge, but never too much or too early.   TAINTED haunts the imagination long after the final word. 

Brooke Morgan's TAINTED would make an excellent choice for stimulating book club discussions.  The figure of Jack's present and past and more importantly the author's expert handling of all the questions and characters surrounding him pose fascinating questions while leaving readers room for reflection and animated discussion.

Publisher: Avon A (December 1, 2009)

Reviewed by Merrimon, Merrimon Book Reviews
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