Friday, August 22, 2014

HER LAST WHISPER by Karen Robards


Publisher:  Ballantine
Published:   August 26, 2014
ISBN:  978-0804178266
Genre:   Romantic Suspense, paranormal
Format:  Hardback
Obtained via:  Publisher  
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina


In the days after escaping a second…or in a way third…serial killer in a short span of time Dr. Charlotte Stone is back at Wallens Ridge prison continuing her research into those very same serial killers.  This time instead of studying Michael Garland another convicted killer sits before her.  But even though Michael is no longer a study subject, he’s not far from her.  In fact, for as long as he … lives … he cannot be more than fifty feet from Charlie courtesy of a spell to keep him grounded here on earth.  If that tether to Charlie were to be broken he would find himself hunted in a dark place of the afterlife he calls Spookville.  Michael is a ghost.  More specifically he is Charlie’s ghost.  Charlie has the unlikely … gift … of being able to see and hear the recently violent dead.  And while Michael died violently, before Charlie’s eyes, he hasn’t quite moved on to his just rewards.  Sometimes that’s okay with Charlie—because even though she’s determined not to fall in love with the often confusing, always possessive, ghost, somehow her heartstrings cannot untie themselves from the man that was.

Today, however, Michael is proving not only a distraction, but a dangerous one and before Charlie knows what is happening her subject not only grabs hold of her, he bites her.  Once again Michael is able to protect her, but at a cost. As alarms go off Charlie soon finds herself fleeing not for her own, but Michael’s life…or at least an afterlife away from Spookville.  They don’t get far before the other man in her life, FBI agent Tony Bartoli, is on the scene.  While Michael is none too happy to see Tony—he is, after all alive and able to have the life with Charlie he wishes he could have, Tony may hold the answer to saving Michael a little longer. It seems one of Tony’s team, Lena Kaminsky’s sister, has been taken while on vacation in Las Vegas.  While that in and of itself doesn’t bode well, what makes it all the more nefarious is there is a serial killer roaming the roads of Vegas—and Lena is convinced he’s got her sister. 

Despite Michael’s constant demand Charlie stay away from serial killers, she is determined to go to Vegas if for no other reason than to get Michael out of town to keep him away from one of Spookville’s hunters.  When they arrive in Vegas Charlie and Michael soon learn there may be worse creatures than a hunter from the dark side of the afterlife.

Karen Robards’s Charlie Stone series is one of my all-time favorites.  So much so that before each new book comes out I re-read the earlier ones in the series not just to refresh my memory of each character, but because of what great ones Charlie and Michael are.  As I said after the first, LAST VICTIM, Michael Garland can haunt me anytime.  That said I eagerly awaited the third instalment, HER LAST WHISPER.  It couldn’t arrive soon enough. 

It took me a few days to process just how I feel about HER LAST WHISPER.  There is so much to it, or at least the potential of so much, that it bears re-reading before the next book in the series comes out.  It can either be read as a straight romantic suspense with paranormal overtones, or it can be read with an eye on some deeper questions and issues.  I’m not generally a fan of your usual paranormal themes and genres like vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters and the like.  They’ve become a bit overdone and routine for me.  I’m also not a fan of the darker side of the afterlife like the hunters portrayed in the Stone books, particularly this one.  I do like a good ghost story and I have a fascination with walk-ins, past lives and reincarnation and in HER LAST WHISPER Robards delves into those themes.  Michael has been a ghost character – one of the best I’ve ever read, since book one.  One of the things I like about the character is you can read him as a ghost lover in a romantic suspense, or you can dig deeper into your own thoughts and feelings of the one you can never truly have.  I enjoy how Robards takes Charlie through the emotional and intellectual inner battle of loving a man she can never have simply because he is a ghost.  He’s not only the quissentential bad boy that we girls should keep a solid distance from—he’s out of reach because he’s dead.  Charlie knows that Tony is the kind of guy she should be falling for—but like all of us at one time or another, the attraction to the untameable bad boy draws her in. 

In LAST VICTIM I had the feeling there was much more to Michael’s story than his being a sociopathic serial killer.  I was certain there was a reason for his actions and have waited for those reasons to come out.  In book 2, LAST KISS GOODBYE we have a glimpse of what motivated some of his behaviour.  In HER LAST WHISPER Michael finally begins to tell his story.  It is a heart wrenching one and one that makes you want to scream at the universe to give him another chance. 

What I didn’t like about HER LAST WHISPER were the darker paranormal elements, particularly around the hunter and what happens to Michael after fighting one off.  And the ending was a disappointment.  It wasn’t satisfying.  While I can understand Ms. Robards came as far as she could go with Michael and Charlie’s relationship, as a romance reader, I want some sort of happy ending for them.  There are hints of where it might go and how their relationship might get there; but would it really be the Charlie and Michael I’m a huge fan of? 

What I really liked is how Robards, for those of us who have lost a loved one, who want to go down that road, gives a glimpse, an idea, of what it might be like to hold them just one more time.  Would you tell them you love them?  Or would the pain of saying goodbye again be all the more painful for been able to hear them say they love you one more time?

This is one series I will continue to read again and again.  Sometimes for the sheer enjoyment of a good read; sometimes for the deeper thoughts and feelings it opens the doors to.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

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