Saturday, September 5, 2015

THE LAST TIME I SAW HER by Karen Robards

Publisher:    Ballantine
Published:   August 25, 2015
ISBN:     978-0804178297
Genre:    Romantic suspense
Format:  Print    
Obtained via:  Publisher
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina


Cool, calm, collected, smart and in control are words most people would associate with Dr. Charlotte (Charlie) Stone.  At only 32 she is renowned for her research into serial killers.  Nothing and no one phases Charlie.  No one except deceased serial killer Michael Garland.  Michael is her personal ghost.  He is also the love of her life and therein lies the torment for both Charlie and Michael.

More and more Charlie is convinced Michael could not have been the serial killer known as the Southern Slasher.  How could he be with how protective, caring and loving he is of Charlie.  Time and time again he finds his way from the place between heaven and hell he calls Spookville to protect and save Charlie?  But the last time Spookville swooped him away Charlie was left feeling—knowing she would never see or hear from Michael again.  Returning home from that last encounter Charlie stops at Michael’s grave and there she receives a shock she never could have expected.  An exact double of Michael stands before Michael’s grave…or is he?

The stranger introduces himself as attorney Rick Hughes.  He is in Big Stone Gap to look into the Southern Slasher case.  It is not lost on Charlie that Michael’s exact twin would be involved in that particular case—especially since Michael, as the accused, was killed some two months before.  Surely this Rick Hughes knew that?

But Rick is determined—he wants to see Charlie’s files on Michael.  Questions abound—does Rick know how much he looks like Michael?  Are they twins?  Could Rick be the real Southern Slasher?  Charlie agrees to meet with Rick in her office at the prison where she will turn over Michael’s files for his review.  Before they can begin an alarm goes off and the prison is evacuated.  In the midst of the evacuation Charlie and Rick are taken hostage by 8 of the most notorious serial killers.  While he might look like Michael, can Rick save Charlie like Michael would have?  Or is she minutes away from death by the real Southern Slasher?

As with every other book in this series I waited as patiently as possible for the newest addition and then as soon as I received it I sat and read pretty much straight through.  With the ending of THE LAST TIME I SAW HER, the fourth of the Charlie Stone series, I have a feeling this may be, sadly, the last in the series.  Not because it’s not a great read – but it is a FANTASTIC read…but because of the way it ended.  As I read the last lines I thought to myself “there has to be more of Charlie and Michael.” 

Michael Garland is such a great character.  Robards has made him so wonderfully complex.  With each book more layers to his character are revealed—I will say after the first one, LAST WHISPER, I had a feeling he would be revealed as being undercover in some fashion.  It wasn’t quite what I expected but it was soooo Michael ala Robards.  Some wonderful twists and turns.

When Charlie is taken hostage and she, along with the others, was in the bus careening away from the prison I found myself gripping the edges of the book and holding my breath.  Robards does a fantastic job of conveying the fear of the hostages and likewise, the romance and intense sexual energy between Charlie and Michael…she certainly knows how to make a reader curl his or her toes. 

Charlie as well as many facets.  And kudos to Robards for not turning her into a simpering miss when the chips are down.  Her intelligence and compassion are carried through into each book while at the same time the character develops in different directions.  And, as always, Buzz and Lena provided a nice layer of comic relief.
I loved the High Plains Drifter analogy and how Michael carried that off.  That was a GREAT twist in the story.  And so very Michael.

The ending was well done – and while I’m so happy at how things came together for Charlie and Michael….I still want more.  They are a couple that leaves you believing in a happily ever after and knowing that true love will always transcend time and distance.

There were a few issues with the stories – things that, for me, kept it from being a 5 Heart read.  There were endings that could have been tied up much more neatly in another 50-60 pages.  I wanted more on the outcome of Rick although this could be the lead in to the next book.  I certainly hope so -- I want Michael and Charlie to have their happy ever after.  But I also want more of this series. 

Looking back at my initial feeling that this could well be the last in the series because of resolving Charlie and Michael’s relationship…is there more in the offering with Rick’s story? Robards has had some great surprises along the way in this series…perhaps and hopefully there are more to come.

This is an objective review and an endorsement of this book.



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