Undercurrent by Sara K. Parker
Trapped at Sea.
In an instant Kathryn Brooks's idyllic transatlantic cruise turns to terror. It's hard to believe someone has it out for her, yet chandeliers don't explode on their own--and her best friend has gone missing. But Secret Service agent Sam West vows to protect her as every corridor poses a threat and any stranger may be an assailant. With the ship's security providing little assistance, Kathryn puts her trust in Sam. Yet losing her own life is no longer her only fear. As she and Sam strive to stay a step ahead of the enemy, Kathryn worries that by caring for Sam...she's put a target on his back, as well.
Sara is on a cruise as a contracted concert pianist. She is also healing from a house fire that followed closely on the heels of her father's death so she is emotionally and physically not in the best shape. During a performance, the chandelier over the piano falls and Secret Service agent Sam (on vacation to watch over his grandmother) barely gets Sara out of the way in time to avoid harm. The security personnel on the ship seem both overwhelmed by the possibility of a terrorist and underwhelmed by the idea that Sara is being targeted specifically.
Sam, his grandmother Alice, and Sara are all level headed characters who make realistic choices. Sara is hungry but knows it would be stupid to leave the safety of Alice's room to get something to eat. While this is not a big event in the book, it left an impression on me as it was refreshing to read a book with no TSTL behavior in sight. There were several possibilities for the baddie as well...an ex who doesn't want to stay an ex, a security officer who seems to be gruff and impatient with Sara, a captain who may or may not be making choices based on what is best for his passengers.
Sam lost a wife and child and is haunted by wondering if he could have saved them...after all, that is his job, to keep others safe. Alice is not subtle in her matchmaking attempts and Sara is worried about her best friend who is discovered to be missing partway through the cruise. There really is a lot going on in this book but it is all handled deftly with great pacing and just the right amount of attention paid to each piece of the whole. A great balance of suspense and romance made this book by debut author Sara K. Parker a very pleasant read. I will definitely keep my eyes open for more by this author! Please Sara, write faster--you have a new fan eagerly awaiting more.
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Key Word (retro-read for Feb.)
Men in Uniform
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I borrowed this book from my local public library.