Monday, March 26, 2018

Concealed Love by Kim Hotzon

by Kim Hotzon

Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense

Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing

Brooke Anderson dreams of escaping her troubled past and starting her own business as an event planner. When she crosses paths with her childhood crush, Adam, she falls hard for him and their relationship promises to be her salvation.

But Brooke's ex-boyfriend, Carlos, is a vengeful drug dealer, who will not let go of her easily. As Brooke struggles to free herself from his control, an earthquake rattles the city of San Francisco, threatening to bury Brooke and her dreams of love in the rubble.

Will her ex destroy her chances of love or will Brooke find a way to put an end to the violence and stalking?

By the time she arrived at a ramshackle parking lot, the sun slipped behind a blanket of fog and Hunter’s Point descended into darkness. Adjusting her vision to the twilight, Brooke identified the bulky shapes of rusting ship hulls. The mammoth iron frames obstructed most of the shoreline.

Brooke released her hands from the steering wheel, turned off the ignition and removed her seatbelt. Hesitating briefly, she reached for the handle and opened the car door. Emerging into the chilly, damp air, she cocked her head and listened to the churn of the restless ocean, splashing and soaking the docks. Normally the sea offered solace. Tonight it sounded different—threatening and powerful.

She scanned the parking lot, searching for his vehicle.

Decades-old spools of rusted cable and random piles of rotting wood littered the cracked asphalt. Brooke cursed at the debris surrounding her, flicking her gaze between the lot and the shore, unable to spot his car. It didn’t matter. She knew he was here somewhere. It wasn’t like him to miss an opportunity to engage in cat-and-mouse games.A feathery flap of wings sailed past her head. Brooke involuntarily gasped, watching as a gull soared toward the open water. Instinctively, she reached out for the car door, leaning against it for support. Brooke paused a moment longer, finally closing the car door to extinguish the light emanating from the interior.

She gripped a small flashlight in her hand, raising it in front of her body like a talisman.

A familiar mixture of briny fish and seaweed filled the air. Something else lingered here too—a cloying, sweet smell laced with a hint of chemicals. Moisture clung to Brooke’s skin. Shivering, she eyed the waterfront. The roiling movement of the sea was barely discernible against the twilight. The sound of metal thudding against the pavement alerted her to danger. She braced herself, waiting for Carlos to emerge.

Review by Liza O'Connor

While well written, I found the story a bit too close to real life for me. I was once trapped in a similar situation. Thus, I can declare this story to be quite authentic.
It upsets me how easily women get caught in a relationship in which the man controls the woman’s ability to speak, think, and act for herself. And in this case, it was done with great subtlety.  At first all seems fine, but then he slowly changes, making decisions without her input, twisting reality, playing mind-games.  Finally, these discontentment moments began to occur more often, and it’s always the woman’s fault.

However, for Brooke, matters have turned much worse. Her boyfriend has progressed to a new disturbing level of physical violence when a friend from the past has the audacity to talk to Brook. That sends Carlos over the edge. He not only threatens to kill Adam, the man from Brooke’s past, but he threatens Brooke as well. 

Once that line is crossed, matters become serious. Fortunately, Brooke regains her backbone and fights back.

Still, it is not easy. These men know all the angles so that everything looks to be the woman’s fault, that she is stalking them, that her new boyfriend is coming after him... This type of man is very good at controlling not just the woman, but the situation.

While I won’t share how it ends, I will say, while shocked, I was happy with the ending and very glad I read the book.

Kim Hotzon writes romantic suspense and time travel romance. Her books have been nominated for several awards, including The Romance Review's Readers' Choice Awards and the prestigious RONE Awards. Her latest novel, A Time for Love in Paris, was a finalist in the 2017 RONE Awards. 

She loves penning stories with exotic locations and plot twists driven by determined heroines.

Kim's novels are inspired by travel and life experience and she never turns up an opportunity to head to a far-flung destination. In October of 2012, Kim embarked on a humanitarian trip to Rwanda, Africa, fulfilling a lifelong dream. Upon her return to Canada, she began her first contemporary romance novel, Hands Full of Ashes. The book was published with Soul Mate Publishing in January 2015 and was nominated for The Romance Review's 2015 Readers' Choice Awards and the 2016 RONE Awards. Kim has also published a short story, The Snow Bird, part of an anthology Sizzle In The Snow: A Soul Mate Christmas Collection (published by Soul Mate Publishing).

Though she lived for a time in Japan, she remains a born and bred British Columbian. When not writing romance, Kim unleashes her passion and energy with dragon boat racing and her wedding design business.

Kim is a member of the Romance Writers of America.

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