Mav is welling in a pool of self-pity, self-medicating with alcohol and hiding in his sister’s house to avoid the reality of his scarred body and amputated leg. He lost both his best friend and his sense of self when the bomb decimated his helicopter crew. Even though Mav was a short time away from finishing his career in the military, the explosion removed his choice and threw into doubt whether he could ever work in his sister’s security business. Despite that, she asks him to babysit a potential client she doubts is telling the truth about a possible stalker and Mav hesitantly agrees to do so.
Deacon Daniels can’t hit bottom simply because he’s been living there for quite some time. Losing not only his fledgling career in music and custody of his two-year old niece, his last ink to the brother he loved, Deacon has also lost his courage. A stalker has resurfaced and the idea he may mean real business this time has Deacon terrified. The police won’t take the threat seriously because of a previous stalker claim that was set up by Deacon’s former manager. Unbeknownst to Deacon, the scheme was launched in an attempt to save Deacon’s career. Now with those involved in that deadly ruse being killed off one by one by an unknown assailant, Deacon turns to Mav and his sister’s firm for help. Someone is targeting everyone involved in the former scandal and Deacon may be the next victim unless he and Mav can figure out who is stalking him.
In Safe Hands is a fast paced action thriller that kept me guessing to the very end. With an alternating point of view, as well as occasional forays into the mind of the killer, this novel allows the reader to delve deeply into the minds of Deacon and Mav and how they both have coped with life altering tragedies from their pasts. Wounded, scarred both figuratively and emotionally, Deacon and Mav find solace in each other despite the fact that imminent danger has brought them together. I think Deacon is the most atypical rock star I have ever read about. Not truly invested in furthering a music career, but willing to ride a career that just fell on his shoulders after joining a contest with a few college friends, Deacon rockets to fame only to have it all torn away from him overnight. But it’s not the fame and money that Deacon mourns, it’s the loss of his niece, Molly, who was left to him after his brother Michael died of an overdose that has shattered him. He and Michael had just reconnected after many years apart and his death tore Deacon apart. When a scandal leads Deacon’s mother to gain custody of Molly, Deacon’s world collapses. Now to top it all off, someone is stalking him for real and threatening his life.
The chemistry between Mav and Deacon is undeniable and swift. While it felt like a bit of insta-love, I was really okay with that idea given how well these two worked together and how hauntingly beautiful their relationship was. They were such a comfort to each other—Deacon providing strength to help Mav beat addiction and rediscover his will to fight the physical trauma he had sustained and Mav helping Deacon realize his self worth and overcome the grief and guilt he had buried deep after Michael’s death. I never felt that their affections for each other were less than genuine despite how rapidly they surfaced. But the story had a few flaws that keep me from giving it higher marks and while some may find them a bit nitpicky, I felt they impacted the story in a way that they need to be mentioned.
The first and biggest problem has to do with Molly. She is supposed to be a two-year old—not yet fully potty trained as evidenced by the mention of her wearing night time diapers–and yet her language skills would put most four year-olds to shame. She not only spoke in complete intelligible sentences, but had an uncanny ability to assimilate the things happening around her and comment on them. Her comprehension and speaking ability was far above any two-year old I have ever seen and I raised two of them myself. If she had not been so integral to Mav and Deacon’s relationship this might have been negligible and easily overlooked, but honestly when she could recall a friend of one of the victims to a social worker, I drew the line at letting this unbelievable plot point go.
The second problem I had was what I will call the name game. When Deacon first mentions his brother, he calls him Mikey. Then Mav refers to him as Michael and then Deacon goes back and forth interchanging the names Mikey and Michael at will. I honestly got really confused at this. Later, another character who we meet as Charlie is actually named Hunter and it’s not until after he has been referred to by both names that we get an explanation as to why he has the nickname, Charlie. But the biggest one has to be Deacon himself, who is actually named Danny, and that is how Molly refers to him. Again, the name is interchanged randomly and I often had to pause and make sure I was understanding who we were talking about. If just one character had the name change happening I could have swept this aside, but to have three different people all being referred to by different names depending on the speaker at the time was just a bit too much for me. Again, while this didn’t directly impact the plot, it was just a nuisance that kept pulling me from the story bit by bit.
I did enjoy In Safe Hands by Victoria Sue and feel that fans of this author will no doubt overlook the above-mentioned glitches easily. I think this was solid mystery that was highly entertaining and a sweet hurt/comfort romance that was very satisfying, but those minor problems kept me from giving this one top marks.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.