New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Ryan returns to The Hunted series
Ben Knight has spent his life protecting those in need and helping abused women escape their terrible circumstances. He’ll stop at nothing to save the lives of his clients, especially the hauntingly beautiful Kate Morrison, a woman threatened by a man whose wealth allows him to get away with everything—including murder.
Kate’s days spent as a social worker, fighting for those unable to help themselves, means she’s spent her fair share of time in a court room. She and Ben have crossed paths, but never that professional line. When he agrees to aid her in putting Evan Faraday behind bars where he belongs, she must trust the sexy lawyer with her life and that of a precious baby’s.
Will Kate learn to trust Ben in time to save herself, and will they have a chance to explore the love blossoming between them before it’s too late?
An Avon Romance
The love of money is the root of all evil, and that root sprouts into something deadly in Ryan's fifth Hunted romantic thriller (after Chasing Morgan). Former foster child Kate Morrison doesn't trust anyone except her foster sister, Margo. Four months after the birth of Margo's son, Alex, her multimillionaire boyfriend, Donald, finally files for divorce from his first wife but before he can marry Margo, the two of them are murdered by Donald's adult son, Evan, who's afraid of losing his inheritance. Kate is left to raise tiny Alex on her own. When she asks attorney Ben Knight for help, he's more than eager to assist in jailing spoiled Evan, who's gotten away with violent crimes in the past. He's also excited to see Kate; they shared a passionate kiss years before, but she ran away immediately after. As they fight for their lives, Ben learns to become a part of a ready-made family, and Kate learns to trust the man who's stolen her heart. Unfortunately, Evan's characterization is inconsistent, and Kate's rash decisions will frustrate readers who are trying to like her. Infused with intense drama, a dab of suspense, and oodles of bloodshed, this action-packed romp is a high-stakes page-turner.
I loved the plot chance that Ryan took here
The first I have read in this series, Everything She Wanted is the fifth book in Jennifer Ryan’s Hunted series, and from page one, I was drawn in and engaged. Ryan builds her stories with clever and easily accessible characters, giving background and personality in a way that feels natural and organic.
Starting with a rather unusual perspective, we have a discussion between Evan and Christina, as Christina tries to explain her reasons for divorcing Evan’s father Donald, and her dissatisfaction with a prenup that will lead to patricide. With tensions increasing and a clearly ugly side of Evan (come by naturally enough) leads to the death of Donald and his new fiancé, Margo, leaves their young son Alex an orphan, and the story takes a whole new turn and twist.
Kate’s sister was the murdered fiancé, and it was she who found the bodies. A life that was less than wonderful as a child gave her some serious issues, but also had her expecting the worst from every situation. Kate’s own issues with trust and reliance on others contrasted with the emotional toll that Ryan built through the story, and while you wanted to shelter Kate from herself and the bad things, there is an inner core of steel that she exhibits that is wholly admirable. And, while she is the sole guardian of Margo’s son Alex, Christina and Evan are challenging Donald’s will and want custody of Alex. Obviously Kate needs legal advice.
Enter Ben, a lawyer who appears at the scene of the murder to be reintroduced to Kate, a social worker that he had worked with previously. Ben is one of those “all for the downtrodden” lawyers, wanting to both see justice served AND see that the vulnerable are protected. Right now, Kate and Alex fit both of those parameters, and Ben can’t help but be attracted to her: her strength, her determination and the fierce way in which she faces a challenge.
These two are so well matched that their path should be smooth: but instead we have the moments of Kate’s inability to trust in another person, and while the ‘whodunit’ was clear from the start, the inclusion of well-meaning friends (many from earlier books I do believe) all serve to allow the connection to build and solidify. Chemistry is explosive, and the majority of this story is focused on the growth of Ben and Kate, individually and as a couple as they share and learn one another. A bit of a back to front story, the bad guys were revealed early and while there were moments throughout where they became an ‘almost issue’ in the romance, they never quite overstepped into taking over the story.
I loved the plot chance that Ryan took here, moving away from the ‘the killer could be around the corner’ moments, moving them into the background as we watch Kate deal with grief, unexpected parenthood of a traumatized child, a new relationship and all of the legal wrangling. Most of all the solidity and security provided by Ben: he’s not a grunting alpha, but protective and strong, he says what he means and he lives it every day. More importantly, Ben is the perfect guy for Kate: he treasures her and realizes that while he can’t stop every mistake or keep away all the pain, he will do everything to show her she isn’t alone.
I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via Avon Addicts for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.