Now, let see if I have the strength to write a review :P
Blood Stains by Sharon Sala
published by Mira in February 2011
At the reading of her father's will, Maria Slade receives shocking news—as a four-year-old, she'd witnessed her prostitute mother's murder and been taken into hiding by the well-meaning preacher who'd raised her as his own.Genre: Romantic Suspense
Maria remembers none of that. But now she's determined to flush her mother's killer out of hiding and discover the identity of her birth father. She heads to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she meets Detective Bodie Scott.
Empathizing with this beautiful woman looking to find out who she really is, he opens the decades-old case file. Their investigation leads them down a dangerous path, where no one is what they seem. Where a father does not want to be found. And a murderer has "like mother, like daughter" in mind for Maria.
Series: The Searchers trilogy, Book #1
The Story: At the reading of their father's will, Maria and her two sisters discover they are not their parents' children nor biological sisters, that each of them were taken in by their evangelical preacher father while he was preaching and doing revivals. Each of the sister came to him under different circumstances, delicate situations. At his death, Andrew Slade left a journal for each daughter with all the information he knew in the eventuality they would want to know their pasts and roots.
This brings Maria Slade - Mary Blake at birth - back to Tulsa. It seems that at the age of 4 years old, Maria witnessed the murder of her mother who was an escort. Fearing for Maria's life, her mother entrusted Maria's safety to Andrew who was renting the room next door in the boarding house. While Maria has no memories of her mother or her death, she still wants justice and therefore goes to the police station in order to re-open the case... and that's how she meets Detective Bodie Scott.
My Opinion: I really like Ms Sala's writing and some of her books are on my keeper shelf, having really, really touched me and that is why I read Ms Sala books :P Recently though, her books have been okay to good... I've only read Blown Away in her last trilogy, Storm Front, and it was okay. To me, it felt the whole trilogy was a bit off, so that's why I still haven't read the two other books. Instead, I decided to look ahead and wait for this one, which is why I had higher hopes :P Is it making sense? :P
In any case, I ended up enjoying Blood Stains :) The story is pretty straight-forward, Maria goes back to Tulsa to find out about her mother and her murder. She digs around, trying to remember things, goes to the police to re-open the case, meets people from her past... and becomes a target. The problem is that if you are familiar with Ms Sala's work, you are also familiar with this storyline as the author uses it often... very often ^_^; It works; however, it does take away a bit of the suspense. Also, how can these people find mercenaries so easily?
In any case, I think the strength of the book was the characters, from Maria, to Bodie, to Maria's mother's pimp, etc. Ms Sala has a knack at writing characters that you connect with, sympathize with. I really liked Maria, she was strong and level-headed. After the initial shock of discovering that her father is not her father, her mother was murdered and was a hooker, she went back to find the truth and was solid. Of course, it did bother her that she could not remember some things, but she didn't lose patience, wasn't rude to others. Bodie was great hero material by being a good guy and knowing how to do his job. The romance did happen a bit quickly, but it was okay with me, because Maria and Bodie had chemistry.
My favorite scenes were Maria finding out about her past after visiting her mother's pimp and his sister who used to babysit Maria. You wouldn't think a pimp would be a likable character, but this one was :) He cared about Maria's mother, cared for Maria and after her death, really turned his life around. Also, Maria's mother was a great woman. She was illiterate and did what she could to survive and most important of all, she loved Maria.
My Grade: C+. While Blood Stains didn't wow me, I liked it a lot. It wasn't the emotional read that I know Ms Sala can produce and at times, it felt like the characters were just going through the motion as the storyline was so familiar... Still, in the end, I enjoyed it and that what matters :) Looking forward to Blood Ties :)