Welcome to the blog tour for The Hunting Grounds by Katee Robert! This is the companion sequel to The Devil's Daughter, a book I read earlier this year and really enjoyed. If you're into romantic suspense, be sure to check out this series! In this post, I've got a review of The Hunting Grounds, an excerpt, and a giveaway.
The Hunting Grounds by Katee Robert
Book Two of the Hidden Sins series
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Publication Date: July 25, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley
Summary (from Goodreads):
For two FBI agents with a past, love becomes a matter of life and death in the new Hidden Sins novel from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Katee Robert.
Maggie Gaines used to be an FBI agent—top of her class and one of the bright, up-and-coming stars—until she spectacularly fell apart during her first high-profile case. That was eight years ago. Now she’s a ranger at Glacier National Park, and she’s found some measure of peace. But when the body of a murdered woman is discovered, she must finally put the past behind her and work with the one man she thought she’d never see again.
For months, Vic Sutherland has been hunting a killer who’s been targeting unsuspecting hikers in national parks—and now the predator has come to Glacier. Vic knows the case will bring him face-to-face with his former partner, yet nothing can prepare him for seeing Maggie again after all these years, or for the memories of passion it stirs in both of them.
As the investigation brings them closer together—and closer to the killer—Maggie and Vic fear they have only each other to trust. But even that might not be enough to make it out of Glacier alive.
What I Liked:
I'd not read too many romantic suspense novels before this year, and it never really seemed like it would be my thing. I get creeped out and freaked out easily, and suspense novels tend to get scary and creepy pretty quickly. But with Katee Robert writing this series, I knew I wasn't going to pass. Yet again, Robert has written an excellent chilling romantic suspense that is just as good as (if not better than) her previous novel, The Devil's Daughter.
Vic Sutherland was introduced in The Devil's Daughter as a secondary character. In this book, he takes front row and center when he is called to investigate a gruesome murder at Glacier National Park. This happens to be the Park at which his former partner at the FBI works. Maggie Gaines left the FBI less than a year after joining, and she hasn't looked back. Seven years at the Park has made it feel like home. But one murder, and then another, and another, and another, has made the Park feel tainted and unsafe. Vic and Maggie were former partners once, and they'll have to work together to track down the deadly hunter who shows no signs of stopping the killing.
This book has me shuddering a little! I get freaked out fairly easily but still, I have to say that Robert definitely sets the tone of this book. It is chilling and eerie, and I honestly can't say I ever want to go to a National Park to hike. Visit, yes, but not hike. The atmosphere of this book is perfect for a suspense/mystery novel.
It is clear that Robert has done her research! Everything from Glacier National Park geography to a park ranger's duties to the BAU of the FBI... this book may be fiction but Robert made the story incredibly authentic. Her efforts showed and I appreciated how much detail she thought to include.
I don't want to go into too much detail about the murders and the case, but I will say that Robert had me guessing who the unsub was until the very end. This is pretty rare for me - I tend to discern these things somewhat early on - so it goes to show how well Robert set up the case. Every time I thought I knew who it was, Robert threw a curveball in the plot.
That being sad, I was completely hooked on this story. I couldn't stop reading and stayed up late in the dark hours of the night, trying to finish this book. That didn't help with me feeling freaked out, by the way. Never read these types of books at night!
I adored the two main characters! Vic seems robotic and calm and collected and never really shows outward emotion, but he is a complicated and tough guy. I like how overprotective he is, and how much of a control freak he is. I understand the type. He and Maggie are good together. Maggie is less controlled and has to reign in her temper at times. She is a little more anxious compared to Vic (well, anyone is, because he sometimes comes across as a block of ice), but I like this about her. They are like foils, opposites, and yet their minds work similarly.
This isn't really a second-chance romance since they never dated or had any sort of romantic relationship. However, Maggie had a huge crush on Vic when they were partners. Vic was married at the time, so they were not going to happen. But fast-forward to the present - Vic has been divorced for five years, and Maggie has never really stopped having feelings for him. Vic knows he wants something with Maggie and he goes after that something. The two of them take a leap and I like where things go. Their romance is sweet and tender, and not too messy, though you'd think it would be a messy romance. I like how open and honest they are with each other.
There is one sex scene and it is adult-rated (though it's not as explicit as scenes in Robert's other books). I like the chemistry between Vic and Maggie and definitely appreciated the presence of the romance.
I was intrigued, hooked, and clueless until the very end! The ending is a big reveal and it should surprise anyone reading this book (in terms of the identity of the unsub). There are so many hints throughout the book but it's easy to look past all of them. Hindsight is 20/20, of course. Robert wraps up almost everything, though she hints at concrete things for Vic and Maggie. I would love to read an epilogue to this story, featuring the pair!
What I Did Not Like:
That last thing I mentioned would probably be the only thing I would note here. I wanted a more concrete ending for Vic and Maggie - yes, they have the whole future ahead of them, but I wanted more specific details! An epilogue to show where they ended up together would be so nice. I adore them as a couple!
Would I Recommend It:
If you like romantic suspense, I highly recommend this novel (and The Devil's Daughter). This book is slightly different compared to the first one because the case isn't as personal to either protagonist (Vic or Maggie) as the case was in The Devil's Daughter. I found this to be a great thing. Be warned, this is a chilling story (in my opinion)! And it is definitely adult fiction.
4 stars. Is there nothing Robert can't write? I love her sexy contemporary romance novels, and her darker contemporary romance novels, and now I find myself enjoying her romantic suspense (a subgenre I never really pictured myself enjoying). I need to try her paranormal romance!
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About the Author:
New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Katee Robert learned to tell her stories at her grandpa’s knee. Her 2015 title, The Marriage Contract, was a RITA finalist, and RT Book Reviews named it 'a compulsively readable book with just the right amount of suspense and tension." When not writing sexy contemporary and romantic suspense, she spends her time playing imaginary games with her children, driving her husband batty with what-if questions, and planning for the inevitable zombie apocalypse.
Praise for The Hidden Sins Series
“…a captivating read, made all the more rewarding when good triumphs.” —Washington Post
“Robert shows off her impressive versatility in this fast-paced and inventive new Hidden Sins series. The small-town setting is a masterful blend of quaint and oppressive, which ratchets the menace and thrill factor. The protagonists carry the full weight of their pasts with them, making their growing relationship as compelling as the mystery element in The Devil’s Daughter. With plenty of twists and betrayals, this is a book that is sure to earn Robert a wealth of new fans.” —RT Book Reviews
Check out The Devil's Daughter:
(Click on the cover for more information.)
Vic’s gaze fell on his phone. Maggie’s number was now in the contacts folder. It would be easy to dial it, just to check on her.
Except it was late, and she hadn’t asked for him to babysit her.
He’d gone years without seeing her, and now that they were in the same general area, it was like they were two magnets that could barely resist the pull. He wanted to hear her voice, to sit her down and share a meal that wasn’t military issue, to actually talk.
His phone rang, which startled him so much he almost dropped it. Vic stared at the screen for several precious seconds, wondering if he was more tired than he’d thought, because it sure as fuck looked like Maggie was calling him.
He sat on the edge of the bed, suddenly painfully aware that he wore only a towel. It shouldn’t matter. She couldn’t see him, didn’t know what he was or wasn’t wearing, but it did matter. “Hey, Maggie.”
“I have to apologize.” He could almost feel her soft sigh. “You were right, and I was acting like a stubborn kid. This whole thing—the murders in the park and having to deal with my past and you—has got me all twisted up.”
Maybe it was the events of the last two days, but he was so goddamn tired of doing the noble thing. He never put himself or his personal shit before a case. Not once.
He’d never wanted to before.
“I twist you up?”
“As if you didn’t know. I had something of a crush on you when we were partners—which I’m sure you knew after I threw myself at you—and apparently I didn’t outgrow it as much as I thought.”
The dimness of the room evoked an intimacy he didn’t deserve. Was Maggie sitting in her bedroom in low light, too? He liked the picture that made. “You have nothing to apologize for.”
“I’ve been making an ass of myself since you stepped off that helicopter.” She shifted, the sound painfully loud in the near silence. “And I’m doing it again, apparently. My whole point was that I’m sorry and I’ll be professional from now on. You don’t have to worry about any breakdowns or hissy fits.”
If he was smart, he’d take her apology for what it was and allow it to move them back to solid ground. There were lives on the line and a condensed timeline that was only going to get more condensed with each body that popped up.
But when Vic spoke, he didn’t move them back to firm ground. He threw them right over the edge of the cliff. “Fuck being professional. I want you, Maggie. Not the former FBI agent. Not the park ranger. I want you.”
Copyright © 2017 Katee Robert
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