Fatal Exposure (Buried Secrets Trilogy # 1) by Gail Barrett
Cold-case detective Parker McCall has spent fifteen years trying to solve his brother’s murder. Now a chance photo of the killer in the newspaper sets him hard on the woman’s trail. A former teenaged runaway, reclusive, award-winning photojournalist B.K. Elliot chronicles the harsh reality of life on the streets — until a photo in the paper reveals her identity, blowing the lid off her secret past. With a powerful murderer now dogging her heels, and her police officer step-father determined to silence her permanently, the last person she can afford to trust is a cop. So why does sexy police detective Parker McCall tempt her to break her silence and resurrect ideals she’d lost years ago? As danger closes in, and with more than her own life at stake, Brynn must decide if the duty-bound cop will betray her…or heal her battered heart.
This story starts off with an effective hook that immediately pulled me into the story. Detective Parker McCall gets a major lead on who may have murdered his younger brother, Tommy, fifteen years ago.
When a photo of the famed but reclusive photojournalist Brynn Elliot appears in the newspaper, Parker recognizes her from years ago as a runaway teen seen with Tommy. He suspects Brynn may be the one who murdered Tommy or at the very least can provide answers about his death.
Parker is a dedicated, loyal officer who takes his job seriously. He has worked hard to move up in the ranks, despite the suspicions of other officers that Parker may be just like his father, also an officer, who was found to be corrupt on the job. Although Parker is a stickler for going by the books and following the chain of command, he doesn’t want to risk that this new lead will not be pursued to the fullest extent. Therefore, he decides to find and question Brynn by himself. This first decision to break the rules of police procedure will soon lead to more decisions on how far Parker will go in his quest for justice.
Brynn has been on her own since she was a young girl, running from a gruesome past and carrying deadly secrets. She grew up surviving on the streets with her two friends Haley and Nadine, also on the run for different reasons.
Now that Brynn’s identity has been exposed, she must flee again. Before she can escape, however, Parker finds and confronts her about her relationship with his brother. Brynn soon realizes Parker will not let her continue running and hiding until his brother’s murderer is brought to justice:
“Everything about Parker McCall reeked of danger-from the jut of his steel-hard jaw to those penetrating black eyes that scrutinized every move. He was too smart. Too determined. And there wasn’t a chance he’d leave her alone. “
Although Brynn is distrustful of others, especially the police, she and Parker form an initially shaky alliance that leads them to investigate a secretive plot of murder, perversion, and corruption that goes farther up in the chain of command than anyone ever expected.
Parker and Brynn work together in this intriguing mystery revealing random clues that they must struggle to put together while on the run from those who want them dead. I appreciated how the author frequently reiterates the connections Parker and Brynn make as well as addressing the looming questions that still need to be answered. These tactics helped me to avoid getting lost or overwhelmed by the numerous complications and conflicts that occur in this fast-paced suspense.
The romance between Brynn and Parker develops gradually and realistically as both get to know each other, and the foundation for their love is based on mutual admiration and respect. Each understands the loneliness and pain that the other endures.
During a passionate kiss with Parker, Brynn “had the oddest sensation as if he could see straight through to her soul.
As if he saw her.
The world fell away. She stayed trapped in his heated gaze, a riot of emotions thickening her throat. Because beyond the rampaging hunger, beyond the need erupting like a wildfire between them, was something else. Something deeper. A sense of connection. A feeling that she’d finally found a man she could depend on. A man who would guard and protect her. A man she could trust with her heart-a thought that both thrilled and terrified her.”
Although this couple’s observations and thoughts reveal their attraction for one another, I wished for more sizzling sparks to really show that ongoing passion between them.
The protagonists, Parker and Brynn, are dynamic, well-rounded characters who gained my respect through their solid belief in doing what is right regardless of the sacrifices that must be made. Even though both characters have experienced heart-breaking betrayal and disillusionment in the past, each has emerged as a survivor, stronger than one might expect given their traumatic experiences. In addition, to the external dangers surrounding them, I enjoyed watching these two characters grow over the course of the story as they are forced to deal with and resolve their internal conflicts.
This is a well written romantic suspense that answers many questions behind the mystery but also left me wondering about further aspects of the deeply embedded corruption that will lead into the second book in the Buried Secrets trilogy. The second and third books will focus on Haley’s and Nadine’s stories, respectively.
I received a copy of this book from the author via Goddess Fish Promotions for an honest review.
Excerpt from Fatal Exposure
“I can’t breathe.”
Parker didn’t doubt it. He probably had seventy pounds of muscle on her.
“Please.” She sounded desperate now. “I…can’t…breathe.”
Unable to dredge up any sympathy, he steeled his jaw. “You going to talk to me this time?”
“Somehow I’m not convinced.”
“I said I would.” Despite her predicament, temper flared into her voice.
“You’d better,” he warned. “You try running again, and I’ll hurt you for real this time.”
Too ticked off to trust her, he rolled over, positioning himself on top. Then he lumbered to his feet, every sense alert in case she tried to bolt. When she didn’t make a move to join him, he reached down and pulled her up. Still breathing heavily, he pulled out his badge and held it up.
“Put your hands behind your back and face the fence,” he ordered, taking out his handcuffs.
“You heard me.” He wasn’t taking the chance that she’d run again.
“You have no right—”
“You ran from the police. You assaulted an officer. I don’t need another reason than that. Now turn around—unless you’d rather I haul you in.”
Her gaze flicked to his shield again. Even in the dim light trickling from a nearby row house, he could see her jaw go tight. But she turned and held out her hands.
Wary of another trick, he slapped on the handcuffs, the delicate feel of her wrist bones causing a startling burst of heat in his blood. Forget that she’s a woman, he reminded himself as she whirled around. She was a possible suspect in his brother’s death, the last one to see him alive, not a potential date.
He picked up the backpack she’d dropped and searched it, unearthing the small, semiautomatic pistol she’d hidden inside. Still keeping one eye on her, he removed the magazine. “You have a permit for this?”
Her gaze skidded away.
“Right.” Stupid question. He stuffed the gun in his jacket pocket and shouldered the bag.
Her eyes returned to his. “So what do you want?”
“You always tackle people you want to question?”
“You always climb out the window when someone knocks on your door?”
Her mouth pressed into a line.
About the Author
A former RITA® and Daphne finalist, Gail Barrett has received the Book Buyer’s Best Award, the Holt Medallion, the Booksellers Best, The National Readers’ Choice Award, and numerous other awards. She lives with her husband in Western Maryland. Readers can contact her through her website: www.gailbarrett.com.
Links to Buy the Book
Amazon: Fatal Exposure (Buried Secrets) ebook/ Fatal Exposure (Harlequin Romantic Suspense) book
Barnes & Noble paperback and Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/fatal-exposure-gail-barrett/1113942081?ean=9780373278275
Gail will be awarding a $25 Amazon / BN (or other bookstore of the winner’s choice) GC to one randomly drawn commenter during this tour.
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Upcoming Books in the Trilogy
Book 2: A Kiss to Die For – August 2013
Book 3: Seduced by His Target – December 2013