When Jia Mason’s estranged husband turns up missing from their Florida vacation home, Jia is the prime suspect in his murder. Afraid she’s being railroaded by the police, she flees to New Hampshire in search of answers only to be arrested there. Zack Sizemore is tasked with extraditing the beautiful fugitive back to Florida until a blizzard strands them with nothing but their mutual attraction to keep them warm. When they stumble upon a deserted cabin, Jia sees her opportunity to charm Zack long enough for her to escape. What she doesn’t count on is falling for the handsome lawman. Or the danger that awaits them in the remote cabin.
Romance, Suspense - novel
TBR Reviewer: Amanda
Game of Smoke and Mirrors is a romantic suspense following a woman on the run from a charge of murder and the extradition specialist hired to return her to Florida. After he retrieves her from the jail in New Hampshire, winter storms leave them stranded in a lonely cabin. As they both fight the mutual attraction, their respective pasts come back to haunt them.
I found both characters to be believable, both in tone and reaction to many of the events that occur during the book. Zack tries so hard not to feel anything, especially for a prisoner he is contracted to transport. Jia is naive and still had sweetness deep down, even after life has dealt her many difficult blows. I definitely found myself pulling for both characters and hoping their relationship could survive its difficult start. Even though the entire story takes place in just a few days, it didn't feel rushed or forced, just intense as you would expect from the type of story it is. The ending had some interesting twists as the villain(s) is/are unmasked and the truth wills out. I appreciated that it didn't end with just your typical happily ever after, but a more realistic "let's see where this goes" on the relationship front. Personally I hope that they end up with their HEA!
Jia Tisdale Mason narrowed her gaze at the sight of blue strobe lights ahead. Awfully close to their vacation cabin. Curiosity morphed into panic when she realized all those emergency vehicles were parked around her house.
Two Marion County, Florida Sheriff’s Office cars, one fire rescue truck and two other unmarked cars. And a van marked, ‘Forensics Unit.’ Forensics?
Her hands trembled on the steering wheel of her rental car. Where was Everett?
Two men and a woman, all in dark green uniforms stood on the porch. A stocky man in black pants and a polo shirt emerged from the house and said something to the others. Why were they all at her place?
She parked under a tall pine and hurried out of the car. Her shoes crunched on the dry pine needles on the ground. The group on the porch stopped speaking and one of the men headed toward her, the one who wasn’t wearing a uniform.
Her mouth suddenly felt stuffed with cotton. Where is Everett?
“Can I help you, ma’am?” The man closed the distance between them, blocking her path. A silver badge was clipped to his shirt pocket but she didn’t see any evidence of a weapon on him. His brown hair was sparse and a little too long for a cop.
“What’s going on? This is my cabin. Mine and my husband’s.”
“I’m Detective Potter, Marion County Sheriff’s Office. And you are?”
She forced herself to suck in a breath. “Jia Mason. Where’s my husband?”
His lips flattened into a thin line. “That’s what we’d like to know, Mrs. Mason. A neighbor found your rowboat near the middle of the lake but Mr. Mason wasn’t in it. Nor is he here at the house.”
There had to be more to this. The boat could have been left untied. “I don’t understand all this.” She swept her hand toward the array of emergency vehicles. “Maybe Everett went…I don’t know, shopping or something. Maybe he’s meeting with our real estate agent, Alexa Knox. Have you checked with her?” She didn’t dare say that perhaps he was with another woman.
“Not yet, but we will.” He set his hands on his thick waist. “We found blood in the boat. And in the boathouse.”
All the air sucked out of her lungs. “My husband’s?”
He shrugged. “You tell me.”
Her jaw went slack and felt a heavy weight settle in the pit of her stomach. Could Everett be dead? Who would do such a thing? Why would the detective think she had something to do with it? “There must be another explanation.”
“When was the last time you spoke to your husband?”
She recognized that look in his eyes. He already had her tried and convicted. She hated cops. They’re all the same.
Memories of her time at the Hillsborough County, New Hampshire Jail barged into her mind. She’d never survive another nightmarish experience like that again. She wrapped her arms tightly around her body to quell the chill.
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