Elizabeth Fitch is a teenage girl with no life, no opinion, no rebellion, and no say. Her mother, Susan, is so like a robot, and runs Elizabeth’s life down to a tee. On her way to a medical conference, Elizabeth and Susan argue when Susan breaks a promise to Elizabeth, taking her holiday away. Elizabeth is nothing but the creation of her mother, with no choices in her wardrobe, hair, education, life, anything. The two part on bad terms, and seized by craziness, Elizabeth lops off her hair, flees to the mall, runs into a girl she remembers from school named Julie Masters, and enters into a deal with Julie. Elizabeth can create fake IDs, but has nowhere to go. Julie has somewhere to go, but no fake ID. Julie helps Elizabeth to buy clothing and accessories, and Elizabeth sorts out the IDs. The next night, the two are off to an exclusive club, which Elizabeth remarks is owned by the Volkovs, suspected Russian mobsters.
A night of rebellion turns to bloodshed when Julie hooks up with Alexi Gurevich, and Elizabeth with his cousin Ilya Volkov. She thinks Ilya is beautiful and sexy and sweet, but her mind is changed when she returns with Julie to Alexi’s house and Ilya is set to join later, where two gangsters murder Alexi for stealing from Sergei Volkov, head of the bratva nad Ilya’s father (which Elizabeth did not know at the time). Julie is killed, too, just for being there, and Ilya arrives later. Elizabeth wishes to warn him in case the gangsters kill him too, but soon learns he is cold and brutal, just like the hitmen. Fearing for her life, Elizabeth escapes and enters into protective custody, causing her mother to abandon her once and for all. Elizabeth starts to lead a semi-normal life, but even that is snatched for her when the Volkovs come for her and she is forced to run from Chicago and go into hiding.
Twelve years later Elizabeth is Abigail Lowery, living in the quiet town of Bickford. She wishes to blend in. She has a high security systems, extensive weapon and self-defence training, a ton of guns and a huge dog named Bert. Police chief Brooks Gleason is very interested in her, and soon makes it his mission to get to know the secretive woman. He is taken with her, her strange ways, her exceptional intelligence, and his curiosity is piqued as to what she is hiding, and he starts digging. Abigail finds herself attracted to the relentless police chief, though she is afraid. She cannot let her guard down, she cannot let anyone in, she cannot have a normal life. The Volkovs still want her, and they have an active hit out on her. Regardless of that, Brooks seems intent on entering into a relationship with Abigail, and soon she finds herself giving in.
Will Brooks ever find out who Abigail really is and what she is running from? Will the Volkovs ever find Abigail? Will she ever lead a normal life and be safe? Will she be able to sustain a real relationship with Brooks?
Who the hell knew there would ever be a day where I was reading Nora Roberts novels? I mean I know Natasha is a big fan and has been haranguing me for years to read her work, but I have always written her off as a cheesy and stupid romance writer (and we all know how much I love a romance novel at the best of times). However, I have come to find that she actually does write rather well. For instance, for a romance, The Villa was a particularly enjoyable read – one I am sure I will go back to again. Then this is one Natasha told me to put above all others to find out. Alright already, I’ll do it. I really, really liked how this started – Russian mobsters and silly teenagers and all that. Again, I love books featuring the mob. Then we got to a new town after all the severe drama went down and it felt like the book just lost steam. Before you have even processed you have moved into bland territory, a relationship springs up after meeting each other once. For me, that is too rapid, especially considering all the things Elizabeth/Abigail has gone though in life. I got severely irritated with the amount of sex talk going on – I distinctly got to the stage where I wondered if Brooks and Abigail could do anything more than think of and talk about sex constantly. It got really annoying, and contributed nothing to the book. Surely there are far more fascinating things to fill the pages with?! I was also not a fan of their relationship, it jumped up out of nowhere and was too rapid and defied my willingness to suspend reality even. Brooks is an exceptionally boring love interest. Anyway, aside from those complaints, it was not the worst book ever. Actually, it had some things that I really liked, and others not so much. I liked that it was a quick and easy read, and Roberts can write, though she isn’t the world’s greatest writer, she can entertain you. I didn’t like Abigail’s character much, because I didn’t find her very endearing or quirky or sweet – just annoying. I liked the relationships Brooks had with the community around him. I also liked the little dramas that popped up throughout the book, though some of it does feel contrived, it was fun for me. I know that this is a romance novel and it is what Roberts does best, I just really wanted this to be a crime novel (where was the scary-as-sin mob discovery and showdown?!), I think she was really onto something in the beginning, or she really needed to work the romance differently later. There wasn’t any real passion between them.