There are three almost completely distinct storylines running through this book, the only element really tying them together is Rochelle. So the reader is watching Rochelle dealing with the terror her attacker has generated in her, while she is fighting her attraction to the man who saved her, and we're watching Kyle as he progresses and escalates his hatred for Rochelle - for unknown reasons until nearly the end - and then there is Maggie and Erik and the PhD clinic.
The threads are woven together well, and kept me interested and guessing what was going to happen next. I'm happy to say there were a few things I didn't see coming, but after the fact I thought, "well of course..." Which means they were set up well, but not made out to be blatantly obvious gimmies.
The main characters were for the most part complex and very well developed. I could totally picture Kyle as played by Giovanni Ribisi, particularly the character Gio played in The Postman. I couldn't find a good picture of that character, but this one is close.
I worried for a little bit that his reasoning for hating Rochelle so much wouldn't be sound, but it was totally compelling. Yes, he creeped me out, but I appreciated having his perspective in the book.
I loved Ed. He felt quite human and had his flaws, so he wasn't "too good to be true" but he was very much a stand up guy and someone to love having on your side in a pinch. He might have been a bit too much of a super-hero toward the end, for reasons I can't say without dropping a spoiler, but that is dramatic license and I'd lump most of it under "things you can do when fueled by adrenaline" and call it good. The only thing that bugged me about Ed was the way his falling in love with Rochelle was portrayed. It just seemed a bit weak. Perhaps because the "I don't know why I'm attracted to her" card has been played out so often in books. I do think it's a real thing - often people don't know what draws them toward others, but he didn't seem to know what it was about her for much of the book, and I guess I like a hero to know his own heart a little better, and be able to pinpoint what it is a little sooner.
Rochelle. Rochelle, Rochelle, Rochelle. I don't know what to say about her. On the one hand, she was strong. Strong in her beliefs, strong in her will to fight against her fear, strong in her faith and convictions. The fact that she spent much of the book afraid didn't detract from her strength to me. It takes a lot of strength to continue living life despite that kind of fear.
But there was a lot of things I didn't "get" about her. I did several eye-rolls at her when she fled over misperceptions of Ed and Alicia. It's understandable and a common element in romance stories - common and overdone. It is a pet peeve of mine when people run away instead of confronting a situation more than once. I get that we can't all be strong enough to stand there and hash a thing out in the moment every time one comes up, but for me, I much prefer to see that kind of growth sooner rather than later. The more times a character runs rather than faces a confrontation, the less I like them as my heroine. It has become a weakness I despise. A personal bugaboo of mine. Does that make this book terrible? No, but I think it accounted for half of that missing star.
The whole thing with Danny perplexed me. I didn't know where he fit into her timeline, how long they were together, (I'm sure it was listed, but I didn't get a feel for what that time meant to her other than "he treated her horribly" which didn't give me the sense of why she stayed with him, or why he did a particular thing that I don't want to spoil.) It felt like a plot element that had been forced into the story, and it didn't really fit.
The rest of the star loss comes from the secondary characters, who were a bit like cardboard cutouts to me. Again, treading lighting to avoid spoilers, there was the drunk, scorned wife, the over the top doctor with secrets to hide, the wanton woman - two of them, actually - and the best friend with the seemingly perfect life. I didn't feel connection with any of them most of the time, and it just left me wanting to see them more clearly, for how they affect the main characters.
The final element I want to address is the presence of religion: faith and conviction. I'm not someone who likes being preached at, and this book definitely did not push me off with overt "bible-thumping" or a holier-than-thou-attitude. Believe me, I wouldn't have finished if I'd felt put upon. No, the threads of Rochelle's faith and how she lived it, and her dreams for a life steeped in it, were very present but not overwhelming. The way her faith affected her relationship with Ed was touching and one especially beautiful moment even got a tear in the corner of my eye. So in short regarding the religious aspect, I think people who like a strong element of faith in the books they read won't be disappointed, but neither will the casual reader be turned off by it.
Overall, I recommend this as a clean read that retains plenty of suspense and excitement. The rating would be PG-13 - with an added caveat for violence. Any survivor of sexual violence and (mild spoiler) those who have lost babies may be triggered by scenes in this book.
I purchased an e-copy of this book, and then won the paperback in a contest. I will be sharing the paperback with my mom, because I think she would enjoy it.