A DEADLY WILDERNESS by Kelly Irvin
GENRE: Inspirational Romantic Suspense
PUBLISHER: Ally Press
RELEASE DATE: May 23, 2023
A frantic anonymous crisis center hot-line call propels counselor Susana Martinez-Acosta smack into the center of a murder investigation and a homicide detective’s arms. Exactly where she doesn’t want to be. Following the tragic death of her husband, she’s struggled to build a safe haven for herself and her son. That new world doesn’t include hit men and persistent detectives with dangerous jobs.
An idyllic wilderness hike turns deadly when homicide detective Ray Johnson tumbles into a ravine and lands on a corpse later identified as the son of a prominent citizen. Ray works to solve the political hot potato murder before city leaders bumps him from the case. His determination to find the man’s killer leads him from the wealthiest enclaves in San Antonio to the city’s dark underbelly, all the while trying to win the woman he loves.
A Deadly Wilderness is a romantic suspense novel that will take the reader along on a tumultuous journey as the consuming need for material wealth drives a deadly wedge among family members who haven’t learned when enough really is enough.
The journey ends where it began—in a deadly wilderness. Not everyone will survive the trip.
I’m a fan of Kelly Irvin’s romantic suspense novels, and I didn’t realize until now that she was really going back to her pre-Amish-fiction roots in the last few years with those titles. I just thought she was trying something new but it turns out that her debut novel was also a romantic suspense. And now it’s been newly updated & re-released!
A Deadly Wilderness alternates perspectives between a few different characters (who are connected as family, friends, or colleagues) through a high-stakes, cat-and-mouse investigation where you’re not completely sure who’s the cat and who’s the mouse. The author expertly draws readers into the tension of this police procedural from the very beginning, thanks to the frantic call to a crisis hotline and the hike that ends in a gruesome discovery. This tension does not ease until the novel’s end and in fact increases throughout the story as personal conflicts and inner struggles are added to the mix. Temptation. Family dynamics. Romantic tension. Addiction. Loss. These are just a few of the battles being juggled alongside solving this murder mystery – a mystery that has its own complex layers to sift through. Needless to say, the key players in this investigation are kept hopping from beginning to end.
The romance is not necessarily in the forefront of the story, but that’s not a bad thing in this case because it’s all tied together. It’s always simmering in the background, and there’s a doozy of a kiss that had me reaching for a fan. So while the romantical stuff doesn’t dominate the story, it definitely impacts the characters and has its time to shine. The faith elements are much the same way – present but not overpowering. I appreciated the author exploring how Ray and Susana each needed to trust God with their relationship and their futures, and I found the end particularly touching as it relates to Deborah’s subplot. I know this book was originally part of a series where Deborah got her own story, so I’m hopeful that maybe we’ll get an updated version of that book as well.
Bottom Line: Layered characters and an intriguing mystery make this police procedural difficult to put down and unpredictable. The romance between Ray and Susana is but one example of our glimpses into the characters’ personal struggles – struggles which many readers will relate to – and the Hope that the author presents in the midst of them. Surprising twists and unexpected turns keep readers on the edge of their seats and invested in the outcome. There are a lot of different layers to this story, and Irvin weaves them each together to give us a riveting read from start to finish!
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 4 stars / enjoyed it!
KissingBook Level: 3 / may forget to breathe on occasion
Kelly Irvin is the author of more than 30 Amish romance and romantic suspense novels. She has penned eight critically acclaimed romantic suspense novels, including Trust Me, which debuted in 2022. Publisher’s Weekly said of the novel: “(In this) whirlwind romantic thriller . . . Irvin follows the characters through twists and turns, writing through the lens of faith and broken faith, while illuminating a bridge across shattered relationships to second chances.” Her latest novel is A Deadly Wilderness, released May 23, 2023, from Ally Press.
The Kansas native is a graduate of the University of Kansas School of Journalism. She has been writing nonfiction professionally for more than 30 years, including 10 years as a newspaper reporter. She retired in 2016 after working 22 years in public relations for the City of San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department. She is a member of ACFW and Alamo City Christian Fiction Writers. She and her husband make their home in South Texas. They are the parents of two children and the grandparents of four grandchildren. In her spare time, Kelly reads, writes poetry and short stories, and spends time with her grandchildren as often as possible.
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