I Can See You by Karen Rose
published by Grand Central Publishing in August 2009
Eve Wilson was the victim of the villain in Don’t Tell, an assault which resulted in disfiguring injury. After the incident, Eve retreated into the virtual realm, seeking refuge from the public eye. Now, with the help of a surgeon, her face is mostly restored and she has returned to the real world. Now a graduate student, her goal is to research the use of the virtual world as therapy to improve self-esteem. But when a string of suspicious suicides connected to her Internet activities leads homicide detective Noah Webster to her door, Eve is forced back into an intoxicating world of Web sites, alternate identities, and secret passions. A world where her experience and expertise are key... and where she becomes a player in a deadly game, trapped in the fight of her life.Genre: romantic suspense
Series: Karen Rose, book #10
The Story: It's been 6 years since the events of Don't Tell where Eve was brutally assaulted and left for dead. She has finally emotionally healed enough to move on, but in order to do so, she had to leave the nest... and ended up in Minneapolis where she's attending grad school in psychology and is a bar tender at Sal's, a cop bar. Her thesis project is a subject study about the use of the virtual world, Shadowland, as therapy to improve self-esteem. Everything goes well until Eve starts worrying about some of her subjects spending too much time in Shadowland and wrecking their real life. Concerned, Eve breaks the double-blind code of her study by 1) entering Shadowland herself to monitor her most at risk subjects and 2) finding out their real-life identity. However, things are worse than Eve could ever imagine when her subjects become the targets of a serial killer. Having no choice and putting her dream of becoming a therapist in jeopardy, Eve turns to Noah Webster, the dark, tall and lean lead investigator who has caught her eye by coming once a week at the bar, for help.
Noah Webster has been attracted to Eve at first sight which is the reason why the recovered alcoholic has been coming to Sal's bar once a week, every week of the past year. Her vulnerability elicits in him feelings that he's long forgotten and an urge to protect her... from him. Not wanting to burden her even more with his own baggage, Noah decides it's better to stay away from her... But fate has a different idea by throwing them together during this investigation, where someone is staging suicide by hanging the victims after dressing them up in a red dress and shoes and gluing their eyes open...
My Opinion: I've said it in the opening, I love Ms Rose books and I think she's a great author. What makes her stand out as one of the best romantic suspense authors is her consistency. I admit, I haven't adore all of her books; however that was due to the characters and my personal taste. When it comes to the storyline, the intrigue and the writing, Ms Rose excels every time. I Can See You is no exception - it's a great book: gripping and entertaining. I couldn't read fast enough, all I wanted to do was keep turning the pages and find out what happened next... which I did :) Not only I enjoyed the storyline, but the characters as well, so I'm a very happy camper with Ms Rose's newest release :)
First, I'm very glad that after the Vartanian siblings trilogly (Die For Me, Scream For Me and Kill For Me), Ms Rose comes back to a storyline/style closer to Count to Ten and her earlier books. It's hard to describe into words, but if you've read Count to Ten and Scream For Me/Kill For Me, you've probably notice a little difference. It's not in her writing style per se, but more the intensity, the urgency... and perhaps, in the balance between suspense and romance. I thought that there was a better balance between the suspense and romance in I Can See You and it was very reminescent of Count to Ten.
Secondly, I think that Ms Rose is awesome when it comes to connecting books together. That's what I like about her... She has 10 books so far and all of them are connected, but in a subtle way. You wouldn't be able to group them under a series name (except for the Varthanian trilogy) unless you do as I did and call the series Karen Rose LOL :P In most series, authors introduce the readers to a group of characters (either a team, an alliance, group of warriors, siblings, etc.) and then each of these characters gets their book, one after the other. However, it is not the case with Ms Rose. Instead, what she's done is varying things up by introducing readers to many different investigation teams via investigations and/or siblings relationship throughout her books: Chicago PD, Philadelphia PD, North Carolina State Bureau, Georgia State Bureau and now, the Hat Squad in Minneapolis PD. Then, she writes and writes and when she thinks a character is ready to have its own book or when it's been a while since we've seen this team, she goes back and writes it. It's like a big networking, giving her much more options to work with, and she does. Also, she doesn't have the need to have all of her previous H/H make cameo appearances in all of the books and when they do, they have the decency not to steal the show :P Again, Ms Rose only gives us subtle updates on them. Can you tell I really like how she's managing her books?
Anyway, I should get back to I Can See You right? :) Like I said, I really enjoyed this book :) I think that Ms Rose did a good job fleshing out Eve and Noah's characters. You can't help but admire Eve. She's been through 2 traumatic events in her life, but she's a fighter and is still out there, living a life. Perhaps not the life she imagined so many years ago, but a life. I liked the fact that it took her time to get where she is. We are seeing a different Eve, a more mature one. She's always been older than her age, she's seen more because of her background - coming from the bad part of town, running away from foster care, helping in abused women shelters... However, the rebellious teenager is gone and has been replaced by a calmer self, less rash... For sure, the events of Don't Tell have marked her - how could it not since it still impacts her so much physically... but it's something else, a quiet wisdom. I guess what I find amazing is that Eve still cares for people and not just her little support group. She's willing to form new friendships, new relationships. As for Noah, he's a good man and a good cop. He has his own baggage, is haunted by his own demons, but he's a survivor as well. He's work hard to continue living and he was smart enough to ask for help when he needed most. There's an inner strength in him that complements Eve so well... and I think he really needed Eve, otherwise, his life would be so empty. I enjoyed the relationship between Eve and Noah. I understand the reluctance from both for getting involved, but I definitively think they needed each other and are well suited. Their relationship is not an intense one like Mia and Reed in Count To Ten. Instead, it's something that has been building up over the year, although neither spoke of it and the yearning for each other makes it very poignant and precious.
One thing that I liked about Eve as well is that she needed a new city to start over, somewhere where she wouldn't be able to hide... but at the same time, it didn't mean she forgot about the people who cared for her and cut loose. As a result, while Ms Rose is introducing us to a new investigation team, there are a lot of familiar faces that play large roles in I Can See You: Tom Hunter, David Hunter and Olivia Sutherland (although Olivia comes with the Minneapolis PD :P). I enjoyed their presence in the book :) Olivia fits right in, David is still such a nice guy and he deserves his own book in the near future and Tom, forever the white knight :) Grew up into a fine young man :) I liked the Hat Squad from the Minneapolis PD :) I'm curious about Noah's partner, Jack Phelps, and why Noah tolerated him for so long. I liked seeing Olivia in her element, as a cop. I like the chemistry of the investigation team - ME, CSU, detectives, etc. Once again, Ms Rose has composed a good team and I liked the fact that the superiors/captains that we've met so far are good men, good cop. They're not after fame and not pressuring their teams to save their own behind and Abbott is no exception.
Okay, enough on characters, what about the story? It was a good one and of course, there's more than meet the eye. I never try to guess who did it because I usually read the end first, so yeah, I know ^_^; LOL :) However, I think Ms Rose did a good job maintaining the suspense... I'm not sure people can guess who did it before Ms Rose wants readers to know. There's also a vendetta against Noah and his partner and this muddles the ground even more for the cops. I think that Ms Rose definitively come up with interesting ideas and cases and this one was definitively interesting. Perhaps not as thrilling and out of breath as the Vartanian trilogy, but quite interesting. I have to admit, I feel relieved a little that the crimes this time were murders and not sexual crimes. Kill For Me dealt with human trafficking and it was a rough ride. The catalyst this time is a magazine article on the Hat Squad - homicide detectives wearing classic felt fedoras. I thought that the idea of Hat Squad was quite interesting and it being real made it even better.
Although I thought I Can See You was great, it wasn't perfect - but then, very few books are, right? :) One thing I wondered is, is it possible for Eve to be so well adjusted? At any other time, I wouldn't have questioned this, but I've recently re-read Angels Fall by Nora Roberts where the heroine was caught in a shooting and she became quite neurotic. It definitively affected her life and her habits... Eve has been involved in unbelievable stuff not once, but twice... Of course the background is different and stuff... but yeah, I can't help but wonder ^_^;
Then, there's the fact that although the cops were able to capture all the villains, ultimately, the serial killer succeeded in killing his 6 intended targets. Sure it didn't go completely as he planned, but, I don't know... The death toll in I Can See You was quite high, but then, there often are in romantic suspense, especially Ms Rose's... and while they did arrest the villains, I can't help but feel that it wasn't a complete victory since he planned to kill those 6 persons from Shadowland and he did. I guess it proves that cops, even those wearing classic felt fedoras, are not modern white knights or superheroes. They do what they can and it's not always enough... I guess I find it too close to reality ^_^;
My Grade: A-. Not a perfect book, but very close :) I really enjoyed the characters and the plot. I Can See You gets a lower grade than Scream For Me and Kill For Me, but it's as good! Only the feeling at the end is less intense, breath-taking. However, Ms Rose took more risks in I Can See You fleshing out the characters more and it paid off :D
psst - I hope that David gets his book soon and that his heroine is Olivia :)