Allegra Greenwood is a high profile criminal lawyer in Sydney but a decision she made ten years ago is coming back to haunt her. When she was still a law student and struggling to make ends meet, Allegra posed naked for her photographer boyfriend with view to using the artistic shots as a way to make money. In the end, she changed her mind. Her boyfriend swore to destroy the files and Allegra keeps her prints in a locked safe.
But now someone has sent her a print of one of these naked photos and Allegra knows that if the photos were released to the media or internet, she would lose her job at the high profile firm she works for. So she employs private investigator and former SAS man Luke Neilson to track down who is doing this to her and where exactly they got the photos from.
Allegra overlooked Luke’s firm for the security job at her work because of a simple kiss that occurred between them but now she needs the best in the business. Luke’s conscience demands that he take the case and protect Allegra – there’s no demand for money so this doesn’t look to be a simple blackmail case, it seems much sinister than that. And after what went down in Afghanistan when he was in charge of Allegra’s younger brother, he feels that he owes it to her because it was his mistake that took her brother from her. But Allegra doesn’t know of his connection to her deceased brother and when she finds out it’s definitely going to put an end to the attraction that simmers between them.
In Safe Hands is one of the five debut titles from Harlequin Australia’s new digital first imprint, Escape Publishing. It’s the second title I’ve read so far and I have to say, this one was utterly fabulous. Romantic suspense is quite a favourite of mine and this one ticks all the boxes. Allegra is a strong woman, a criminal lawyer who is not afraid to defend notorious underworld figures in the pursuit of a fair trial. She’s known as an ice queen in the press and has a blog devoted to her exploits run by admiring law students. She’s good at her job but she has very little in the way of family and seemingly, few friends, especially close ones. When she receives a print of a photo she had taken ten years ago by bike courier, she knows that this is not something to be taken lightly at all.
Luke is a former SAS man, an elite soldier turned private investigator who runs a small but highly efficient team and gets the cream of the crop when it comes to jobs. He feels like he owes Allegra and it doesn’t take him very long at all to deduce that this a real threat towards not only the security of Allegra’s career, but also her life.
The chemistry fairly sizzles between Luke and Allegra, jumping off the page (or Kindle, as the case may be). I loved the fact that Allegra was mostly willing to listen to Luke’s advice and did not object to him installing cameras to catch people hanging around, accompanying her places and even staying over because too often the heroine in a novel is way too “Oh I’ll be okay, I just want to be alone” and is then nearly raped/murdered/etc when it may have been avoided by just having a brain and following instructions. That’s one of my pet hates in suspense novels (and also, YA) and I’m pleased to see that Allegra continued going to work, going to court and living her life but also took precautions to ensure her safety thanks to Luke and was quite vigilant.
The pacing in In Safe Hands is flawless, the author building suspense by slowly having the perpetrator attempt to infiltrate each corner of Allegra’s life with a new photo and a sneaky underhanded note to go along with it to warn her that soon, everything she holds dear to her will be lost. It becomes so obvious that this is a sinister escalation that will culminate in an attack on Allegra’s person, if Luke cannot prevent it in time. I have to say I did guess the culprit although I did also have several dilly-dallying back and forth moments about is-it-or-is-it-not-this-person as the author made me doubt my choice.
This is a fabulous debut novel, expertly thought out and skilfully written with a passionate pair of main characters that both have hidden depths. They work so well with each other but they work equally well as individuals, which is something I love to see in a novel that has strong romantic elements. We get a chance to see Allegra doing her work, functioning in the court room even with the threat hanging over her head and we get to see Luke putting his investigative and protection skills to good use. I’m sure Lee Christine has a very promising career as a novelist and I’m definitely looking forward to her next release!
Book #255 of 2012
In Safe Hands is the 84th novel read and reviewed for the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2012