About This Book
Jake knew something was wrong. But he never guessed how wrong.
A relaxing day of rock climbing takes a disturbing turn when Kayden McKenna’s route brings her face-to-face with a dead climber. Is it a terrible accident or something darker? When the case is handed to overburdened sheriff Landon Grainger, he turns to Jake Westin for help. With Jake’s past now revealed, he’s ready to use his talent for investigation again—but he could never prepare for where the mystery will take him.
Kayden’s climbing expertise soon leads her and Jake to the realization that the death was no accident. And worse, it seems the killer is onto them. When strange things begin happening in Yancey, Jake is terrified that once again his world may put someone he loves in danger. But the truth is far worse than he could ever imagine.
I read and enjoyed the first three books in the Alaskan Courage series, Submerged, Shattered and Stranded. Jake and Kayden have had a tense, almost combative relationship throughout this series so far. Kayden is reserved and fiercely loyal to her siblings, and has questioned and even resented Jake’s presence among them as an “outsider.” After all, someone with his mysterious background and inexplicable skills is surely up to no good! Only when the truth about Jake’s past came to light in Stranded did Kayden finally begin to see him in a new light. But with all the animosity of their past, I picked up Silenced with high expectations for a lot of fireworks between these two. They’ve been butting heads for years, and I was looking forward to how falling in love would add more fuel to that fire. I also expected a healthy mystery with a lot of twists and turns that I couldn’t see coming, plus lots of action and adventure filled with breathtaking settings all around Alaska. I was also looking forward to extended denouement for the previous heroes and heroines, Cole and Bailey (Submerged), Piper and Landon (Shattered), and Gage and Darcy (Stranded), as well as a solid foundation to set up Reef’s story in the forthcoming fifth and final book of the series.
Overall, I loved this book! I plowed through it in one sitting—absolutely could NOT put it down! This is a great addition to the Alaskan Courage series, but it may lose some readers who haven’t been following the series up to this point, especially as most of the romantic tension between Jake and Kayden is dependent on everything that happened between them in the previous books. But the mystery definitely exceeded my expectations; it was great to see more of the continuing stories of the other McKenna siblings; and I’m excited to read the fifth book!
The first half of the book was all about a murder that was completely disconnected from the real threat against Jake and Kayden. I kept waiting for the moment when the two crimes would be linked, but they never were, which gave the overall effect of reading two novellas instead of one cohesive story.
The only cohesive thread was Jake and Kayden’s relationship, which lacked the sizzle of their antagonistic chemistry from the earlier books. There was no real conflict to keep them apart: 90% of the tension was just their internal dialogue along the lines of, “Yes, I know I love him/her, but I also know he/she doesn’t feel the same way about me, so I can’t say anything.” Compounded with every other character in the book constantly reminding Jake and Kayden—and me as the reader—that the whole world already knew their true feelings for each other (including each other!), the only “conflict” was waiting for them to just get around to admitting it out loud. Nothing kept them apart except their fear of declaring their feelings, which wasn’t quite strong enough tension for me.
One thing that could’ve really added to the tension would have been Jake still needing to work through his grief and guilt over his wife’s murder. He displayed no loyalty to her memory—something that could’ve added some direct, real-time conflict to his relationship with Kayden. Say, if they both had declared their feelings for one another earlier in the story, only to have Jake later discover his wife’s murderer is free and he’s thus failed her a second time . . . which leads him to withdraw from Kayden until he can make things right, and for her that spells major rejection. After daring to be vulnerable and let her guard down at last, his emotional withdrawal crushes her, and she retreats, rebuilding those stone walls around her heart twice as fast and higher than ever—and THEN the murder mystery and/or presence of his wife’s murderer forces them to work together despite their emotional conflict? Now THAT’S some tension I could really get invested in!
Reef and Kirra’s subplot also included way too much attraction for me. I’d prefer to see that saved for their own story in book 5, and to have kept their subplot in this story focused only on their past hatred. The discovery of feelings changing from bad to good is too juicy a plot point to waste in a subplot of someone else’s story! I fear it may dampen some of the sparks in the next book, the way Jake and Kayden’s spark was a bit snuffed out by revealing too much of Jake’s history in the previous book.
And this is totally OCD of me, but I really wish they’d Photostopped the stray hair from the cover model’s forehead. I keep swiping at it thinking it’s a cat hair on my book!
Silenced was a stupendous romantic suspense that I thoroughly enjoyed, but it relied too much on the reader having a deep and thorough knowledge of all the previous books in order to understand why Jake and Kayden aren’t together. Which is fine, if that’s your audience, but too much of the tension was hacked out from under the story’s legs to give it a solid foundation to stand on its own.
Available May 6, 2014 from Bethany House Publishers