by Deeanne Gist & J. Mark Bertrand
2010 Bethany House Publishers
Mix the rich, descriptive romantic writing of Deeanne Gist with the suspensful and plot-twisting writing of J. Mark Bertrand and you have the setting for a novel that certainly did not disappoint.
In the shadows of Charleston, someone is watching her...
Rylee Monroe, a dogwalker in Charleston's wealthiest neighborhood, never feared the streets at night. But now a thief is terrorizing the area and worse, someone seems to be targeting her.
Reporter Logan Woods is following the break-ins with the hope of publishing his coverage as a true-crime book. The more he digs, the more he realizes this beguiling dogwalker seems to be at the center of everything.
As danger draws ever closer, Logan must choose: Chase the girl, the story, or plunge into the shadows after the villain who threatens everything?
The characters in this novel grabbed my attention right from the beginning. I found Rylee (don't you just love her name?) to be very likeable, headstrong, opiniated, but with a sensitive streak that came out throughout the novel. To watch her break down the walls she had built up over her heart over the years and learn to trust those around her was very heart-wrenching and heart-warming all at the same time. Logan reminded me of a man every mother would want their daughter to meet as he is caring, kind, but strong-willed at the same time, a perfect match for Rylee. I enjoyed the fact that their relationship developed over time and did not have that instant attraction that is so common in many novels as I've always enjoyed the build up. The rest of the characters were quirky and interesting and I enjoyed the interactions and dialogue amongst them. If the dialogue was somewhat stilted at the beginning of the novel, possibly the blending of two voices/authors, it soon smoothed itself out and you didn't notice it anymore by the middle.
The plot itself was interesting, with many twists and turns and intriguing elements. This is the first time I believe I've read a book where the heroine is a dogwalker so I really enjoyed that concept and the many sticky situations that result. The scene where Rylee first meets Logan is hilarious and I love his leap onto the monument and his subsequent reactions to the dog Rylee is walking. While very lighthearted in many scenes, there are certainly many darker elements as Rylee is stalked and bated throughout the novel and both Rylee and Logan have to discover who is stealing all the priceless ornaments from the homes before Rylee loses her freedom and her career. Luckily, having two authors didn't affect the suspense at all in this novel.
My only small nitpick is with the title as I am still not sure, even after having read the novel, how it fits in with the novel. Maybe I am just not seeing the big picture, and I have tried, but I'm still not convinced I really like the title.
Ms. Gist and M. Bertrand have crafted a novel that was very entertaining, even if it was a bit predictable. I enjoyed reading about Charleston as I love to read about any cultural element in any novel and I certainly enjoyed the suspensful and romantic nature of Beguiled. The subtle faith element was also there, a bit of Christinanity, but Christian or not, it is still a book to be enjoyed by anyone. Hopefully, these two authors will continue to collaborate on future novels.
This book was provided to me by Bethany House Publishers.