Happy Monday everyone! I'm so excited to be participating in the blog for Cold Malice by Toni Anderson and getting to share my review.
Hope you enjoy the post :)
Published: September 2017 - Toni Anderson.
Genres: Adult / romance / suspense / thriller / contemporary fiction
Triggers/Content Advisory: At least two explicit sex scenes. Occasional crude, perverse sexual language & content. Dark themes of bigotry, racism, and dangerously relevant white supremacist content which could be triggering/disturbing.
Source: Thank you to the publisher for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for a honest review as part of the blog tour.
ASAC Steve (Mac) McKenzie is out to prove himself by leading a task force investigating a series of murders in the heart of Washington, DC. His undercover work in an antigovernment compound twenty years earlier is related—as is the sweet, innocent girl he befriended back then. Now that girl is a beautiful woman, and she has something to hide. Tess Fallon spent a lifetime trying to outrun her family’s brand of bigotry, but someone is threatening her anonymity by using the anniversary of her father’s death to carry out evil crimes and she’s terrified her younger brother is involved. She sets out to find the truth and comes face-to-face with a man she once idolized, a man she thought long dead. As the crimes escalate it becomes obvious the killer has an agenda, and Tess and Mac are running out of time to stop him. Will the perpetrator use a decades-old dream of revolution to attack the federal government? And will the fact that Tess and Mac have fallen hard for each other give a cold-hearted killer the power to destroy them both?
When I got the chance to read this book, I jumped at it. I love romantic suspense, but so often I've been disappointed by the imbalance of those aspects. I hoped this book would defy my low expectations.
It definitely did.
The pacing is brilliant and skillful. It's fast, exciting, action-packed, and intelligently plotted. The story also deals with heavy, dark topics that are extremely relevant to our current political climate (think the US...) but the atrocious bigotry, perverse racism, and horrific sexual offenses are never condoned. Anderson handles them well, and doesn't shy away from their very real horror and wickedness.
In addition, the mystery aspect of the novel is excellent. I thought I'd worked it all out, but I was delighted to be proved wrong. The author certainly keeps you guessing.
There is one tiny plot factor at the end of the book that I'm not so satisfied with, but I can't give spoilers, so I'll just say that it's to do with Mac and Tess's relationship. That aspect makes the ending too tidy and perfect.
The dialogue is great. It's sharp, gets to the point, and is constantly snappy and entertaining. There's absolutely no fluff. It's tight and characterising.
Often in romantic suspense I find that the author doesn't balance the two elements well enough and you end up getting way too much kissing and making out and no action thrills. But in this book Anderson balances the romance and the suspense perfectly. I love how there are these gorgeous scenes rifle with sexual tension, and yet there are just as many scenes with pumping adrenaline-fueled fights. The balance is impeccable.
But it turned out you couldn't run from your past. It always found a way to track you down.
"I'm not naive......I grew up in a white supremacist compound with a daddy who wanted to murder innocent people and blow up the government for funzies. They beat up and possibly killed anyone who didn't agree with their ideals, and married their daughters off to perverts to hide sex crimes. I am not one of those females who see the world through rose-coloured glasses, or if I do, the roses are blood-red and thorny as hell."
The characters are generally epic. The secondary characters don't leave much of an impression, but with strong leads like Mac and Tess I didn't mind so much about the others.
And I love Tess. I love how she's vulnerable and unashamedly feminine while still being clever, badass, and completely able to hold her own. She's immensely likeable, and her internal arc is solid and realistic.
Mac is a cool hero. I like how he's not your typical "alpha male who gets what he wants because he can" - including getting the heroine. He's flawed, swoony, and he respects Tess's boundaries. I do wish he'd gotten more development (I feel like the author never digs deep enough into his character and back story) but otherwise he's a good character and a suitable love interest for Tess.
The romance is lovely. Admittedly, I did hate the sex scenes, but that could just be personal preference; I didn't like the nature of them at all. Otherwise, though, Mac and Tess are a great couple, and I love how their interactions go from swoony to intense to cute to heated. They're definitely shippable.
I really love how effortlessly the author slips inside Mac and Tess's individual heads when it comes to telling the story through their perspectives. Their voices come across clearly, and when the perspectives change it's natural and flows well.
Cold Malice flawlessly balances suspense and romance and delivers a fun, clever, and exciting story with a fantastic, unique heroine at its core. It's not perfect, but overall it's a wonderful tale and equally impressive through its refusal to shy away from its more serious themes.
New York Times and USA Today international bestselling author, Toni Anderson, writes dark, gritty Romantic Suspense novels that have hit #1 in Barnes & Noble's Nook store, the Top 10 in Amazon and Kobo stores, and the Top 50 in iBooks. Her novels have won many awards. A former Marine Biologist from Britain, she inexplicably ended up in the geographical center of North America, about as far from the ocean as it is possible to get. She now lives in the Canadian prairies with her Irish husband and two children and spends most of her time complaining about the weather. Toni has no explanation for her oft-times dark imagination, and only hopes the romance makes up for it. She's addicted to reading, dogs, tea, and chocolate. If you want to know when Toni's next book will be out, visit her website and sign up for her newsletter. If you want to read other fascinating stories about life in a city that, during winter, is sometimes colder than Mars, friend her on Facebook.
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Hope you enjoyed this tour stop!
Have you read Cold Malice? Is it something you'd like to read?