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Her Last Whisper (Dr. Charlotte Stone #3) – Karen Robards

  • HLWTitle: Her Last Whisper 
  • Author: Karen Robards
  • ISBN: 0804178267 (ISBN13: 9780804178266)
  • Series: Dr. Charlotte Stone #3
  • Published: August 26th 2014 by Ballantine Books 
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Genre: Romantic Suspense
  • Page Count: 352
  • Source: Purchased
  • Rating: A

Karen Robards has long been a favorite of mine, especially her heroes typically tall, dark and handsome irascible sorts with the exception of Michael Garland but he fits into a class all his own. The Last Victim, the first in the series was a departure from Ms Robards previous romantic suspense novels with a darker edge closer to the work of masters of the horror genre while still preserving her engrossing love stories. This grittier turn has continued throughout the series and despite myself I have become completely invested in the doomed love affair between Dr. Charlotte Stone and her former prison inmate ultimately paroled by way of death Michael Garland.

SYNOPSIS – The last time criminal psychology expert Dr. Charlotte “Charlie” Stone helped capture a serial killer, it was nearly the last thing she ever did. Now she’s determined to stick to research—and leave risk-taking to the law. But when dangerous duty calls, she can’t refuse. And there’s no greater danger than the Cinderella Killer, a charming predator who lures beautiful, single women to their deaths. FBI agent Lena Kaminsky fears her missing sister has fallen prey to the seductive psychopath, and desperately needs Charlie’s unique skills before it’s too late. Joined by Special Agents Tony Bartoli, Buzz Crane—and her ghostly bad-boy lover, Michael Garland—Charlie heads to Vegas to track down Lena’s sister before the Cinderella Killer seals her fate.

Dr. Charlotte Stone’s life is complicated, very complicated. The only living victim of the Boardwalk Killer’s spree, she channeled her survivor’s guilt into the study of  medicine, specifically the psychiatric study of serial killers. Her work at Wallens Ridge Penitentiary allows her to get close but not too close to the subjects of her study.

Though only a short time has passed since the apprehension of the “Boardwalk Killer” and Charlie’s own near drowning at the hand of the “Gingerbread Man”, she is determined to return to her work at the prison. You see, Charlie’s sees “dead people” not unlike a certain M. Night Shyamalan movie we all know and love. Convinced that she will be discounted as crackpot, she keeps her ability to see the ghosts of the recently violently departed secret. However Charlie is now hearing “voices” following her recent trip beyond the veil. What is unclear is if this a progression of her gift? Or something more sinister?

Before she can investigate any connection between the recent spree of deaths at the prison, Agent Tony Bartoli returns to plead for her help on behalf of Kaminsky whose sister has disappeared. This is particularly ironic as Lena Kaminsky has long been Charlie’s harshest critic. Against Michael’s pleas that she stay out of this investigation Charlie agrees to accompany Tony to Las Vegas where the women were on holiday.

The tenuous connection between Charlie and Michael is further threatened by his continued efforts to protect her from herself and keep her from choosing to pursue a romantic relationship with the saintly Agent Bartoli. It is clear that their union cannot withstand the pull of “Spookville” for much longer without intervention. I read Her Last Whisper absolutely convinced that this would be Charlie’s last hurrah but I should have known better. Ms Robards played her cards close to her chest on this one springing a cliffhanger at the end guaranteed to make me crazy …okay crazier. Regardless in Her Last Whisper we are reminded precisely why Karen Robards is a legend and can only contemplate re-reading the first three Charlotte Stone novels and/or possibly everything else she has written while waiting for the fourth.

For a sample click here to read Chapter One
  • The Last Victim (Dr. Charlotte Stone #1) – Amazon/ Review
  • The Last Kiss Goodbye (Dr. Charlotte Stone #2) – Amazon / Review

KRKaren Robards is the author of 40 books and one novella. She is the mother of 3 boys (25, 19, and 14) and lives in her hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. A regular on the New York Times, USA Today andPublishers Weekly bestseller lists, among others, she published her first novel at age 24. “I read, I write, and I chauffeur children,” she says with a laugh. “That’s my life.”






The Last Kiss Goodbye (Dr. Charlotte Stone #2) – Karen Robards

Dr. Charlotte “Charlie” Stone has dedicated her career as a psychiatrist to exploring the darkest territory of all: the hearts and minds of serial killers. It’s a job she’s uniquely suited for, thanks to the secret talent that gives her an uncanny edge—Charlie can see dead people, whose tormented spirits cry out to her for the justice only she can provide. This blessing—or curse—gives Charlie the power to hunt down and catch madmen and murderers. It’s also turned her love life upside down by drawing her into a hopelessly passionate relationship with the lingering ghost of charismatic bad boy Michael Garland.

TLKGI love Michael Garland, but Dr. Charlie Stone? Not so much. It is as I suspected when reading The Last Victim, and reading The Last Kiss Goodbye confirmed what I now know for a fact, Charlie has the intelligence of a titmouse. It pains me, but it had to be said, for a PhD educated woman to be such a twit is incomprehensible to me. The fact that she could doubt what was screamingly apparent, what had been pointed out to her repeatedly by word and further by action was beyond frustrating. I know, I know, without conflict there would be no story but the unending mental tirade of “Oh, how can I believe him when he’s a serial killer?” coupled with imaginary hand wringing was more than a bit tiresome.

As her glance found him, and their eyes held for the briefest of seconds, she immediately felt calmer, more centered. She recognized the ridiculousness of it : how screwed up was her world when the ghost of Michael Garland served as a grounding presence? That’s when Charlie remembered he might be – might be – the exact same kind of monster as the one  they were hunting.

Truly you would think that there would be conflict a plenty in having unresolved feelings for a dead man without the frequent mental soliloquies about his guilt or lack thereof. Coupled with her idiotic belief that she could somehow transfer her feelings for Michael to Tony truly made me want to smack her.

There was a phrase from a song her mother used to listen to: love the one you’re with.

She liked Tony a whole lot. She found him attractive, sexy. His kisses turned her on.

Tony she could kiss. Tony she could have sex with. Tony she could even, eventually, if things worked out, make a life with.

Stupid she wasn’t. She knew enough to choose the possible over the impossible.

Following Michael’s apparent sacrifice of himself or at least his manifestation on this earthly plane at the conclusion of The Last Victim it seemed that Charlie’s relationship with the ghost of convicted serial killer Michael Garland was at an end leaving the path clear for FBI agent Anthony Bartoli. The ideal is short lived though Michael reappears with difficulty, the pull of purgatory aka Spookville is almost impossible to resist and almost simultaneously a desperate woman, dirty and bleeding shows up at Charlie’s door. It soon becomes apparent that another serial killer is at work and his attention has been drawn to Charlie necessitating a reunion with the task-force she worked with when hunting the Boardwalk Killer.

Excerpt (The Last Kiss Goodbye) – http://www.karenrobards.com/books/lastkissgoodbye_ex.asp

Cover of "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir"
Cover of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

My annoyance with Dr. Stone aside, don’t mistake me, I still enjoyed The Last Kiss Goodbye greatly. It wasn’t until recently that I figured out why, what with all the angst I seemed to be experiencing, I am a sucker for impossible romances one of my favorites being The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, I believe the title sums it up. Many of you wouldn’t be familiar with the novel by R.A. Dick or the 1947 feature film starring Rex Harrison and the beautiful Gene Tierney but it was required viewing according to my mother, which believe me, was no sacrifice. Like Charlie, Lucy Muir finds herself afflicted with a difficult male ghost. If you possess even a single romantic bone in your body you won’t be able to resist this classic film.

In 1900, strong-willed widow Lucy Muir goes to live in Gull Cottage by the British seaside, even though it appears to be haunted. Sure enough, that very night she meets the ghost of crusty former owner Captain Gregg…and refuses to be scared off. Indeed, they become friends and allies, after Lucy gets used to the idea of a man’s ghost haunting her bedroom. But when a charming live man comes courting, Lucy and the captain must deal with their feelings for each other.

The Last Kiss Goodbye is a more than credible thriller and at least in my opinion, a suitably complex mystery with a truly gripping climax. The exchanges between Michael and Charlie are in equal parts entertaining and frustrating, Karen Robards has proven her mettle yet again and I am looking forward to her next offering, Hunted coming up in December.

AUTHOR: Karen Robards

RATING: 4  Stars

GENRE: Romantic Suspense

Shiver – Karen Robards

shiverSamantha Jones is not having a good night, repo work is not easy you have to be fast and stealthily, often the subjects of her work are reluctant to give up their vehicles. During a routine pick up of a BMW the trunk releases and inside is a not quite dead guy.

Rick Marco aka undercover FBI agent Daniel Panterro is having a worse evening after being beaten and shot he is dumped in the trunk to be dealt with later. The chances of backup arriving in time are practically non-existent.

If driving a piece-of-crap tow truck through the seediest part of town with a Smith & Wesson beside her means putting a roof over her son’s head, then Samantha Jones is going to be the best damn repo woman on the books. The streetwalkers, the drug pushers, the bands of looking-for-trouble punks haunting the mean streets at midnight don’t intimidate her. These are her people. The guy she finds bound and bloodied in the trunk of her latest conquest, a flashy new BMW, is a different breed entirely.

Daniel Panterro was certain he was going to die. Instead, by a stroke of luck, he was beaten to within an inch of his life and left for dead. But if he’s having a bad day, Sam’s day is about to get way worse. Danny knows he hasn’t seen the last of the vicious drug runners who kidnapped him from protective custody. His only recourse is to take his pretty savior hostage and force her to help him. There’s no going back for Sam and her four-yearold son, Tyler. They’re in way too deep.

With ruthless killers stalking their trail, Sam’s only choice is to trust this handsome, menacing stranger. But as she relinquishes control, Sam feels an unmistakable desire. Could she be tempted by Danny, who seems intent on protecting her and Tyler from even his own darkest secrets? And what is the price of falling in love with a man who operates on the edge of danger—her heart, her life . . . or both?

SleepwalkerI am a big fan of Karen Robards, she is definitely one of my “auto buy” authors and usually she is just the thing when you are looking for a good action packed romantic suspense but unfortunately something was lacking in Shiver for me. All of the components were there but ultimately the result was well ...pedestrian, like Ms Robards was just going through the motions or missing that lightning strike that elevates the ordinary to something more. Somewhat similar to Shiver but with a better executed plot-line would be her July 2012 offering Sleepwalker.

It’s not that Micayla Lange is afraid of the clinking she hears coming from the first floor of the empty McMansion she’s housesitting for her uncle Nicco. She’s a cop, after all. It’s just that finding out her boyfriend was cheating on her was enough drama for one night. Now she’s alone on New Year’s Eve, wearing flannel pajamas and wielding a Glock 22 as she zeroes in on the unmistakable source of the sound: Uncle Nicco’s private office.

Jason Davis steals things for a living, so unexpected developments are a natural part of the job. Getting caught red-handed by a hot, pigtail-sporting police officer in what is supposed to be a gangster’s deserted house is just one more twist in the game. Kind of like finding incriminating photos in Nicco Marino’s safe, only to discover the cop—and the security cameras—have gotten a real good look at his face.

Samantha’s character unfortunately crossed that fine line between self sufficient and stupidly stubborn and Daniel’s just wasn’t compelling enough to compensate for her lack. By the time all was revealed I found myself not caring over much if they made the seemingly impossible escape from the innumerable bad guys pursuing them. My recommendation is that you take a pass on Shiver and go directly to Sleepwalker, which strangely out of the two novels is the one that will have you reaching for a sweater…to find out why? Well, you will have to read it.

AUTHOR: Karen Robards

RATING: 3 Stars (or somewhere between 2 1/2 and 3)

GENRE: Romantic Suspense