I’m here today to share my thoughts on Before He Vanished (Winchester Tennessee #6) for the HQN Spring blog tour. If you remember, I recently read Witness Protection Widow which is book 5 in the same series.
About BEFORE HE VANISHED: Twenty-five years ago, Halle Lane’s best friend vanished from their Tennessee town. When a childhood photo brings Liam Hart to Winchester, Halle is certain the man is the same child who vanished. Now Liam seeks out Halle to help him investigate the circumstances of his mysterious past. Can Liam and Halle uncover the truth before a killer buries all traces of the boy Halle loved—and the man he may have become—forever?
This had such an awesome plot that had me hooked from the beginning all the way through. Even when I thought the story was going to go one way, Webb threw a curveball in that I wasn’t expecting. Liam and Halle really shine when they are running around trying to solve the mystery together. I loved all the various layers of this book: solving the disappearance, the murder mystery aspect, Liam trying to come to terms with his past, and the bond that Halle and Liam have.
I really liked Liam and Halle’s friendship and growing feelings so I was disappointed when the author turned it suddenly into more. Obviously, this is a romance so I knew how it was going to end but I didn’t like how intense it got. However, it was a minor detail and it didn’t hamper my overall enjoyment of the story.
The feel of this story is very much mystery/thriller and I quickly devoured this book. I think this is book is a great option for someone who wants a suspenseful read with light romance. I know I keep mentioning how quick of a read this book was but seriously these HQN category romances are so great for a relaxing couple of hours. They are specifically made to be about 200 pages (or 55,000 words) so you can easily consume them in a few hours. Obviously some books do better at telling a story within those parameters but I really think this book accomplished it. If you want to try some of the story for yourself then keep scrolling for an excerpt. Just so you know the excerpt provided is the most overt part of Halle and Liam’s romance.
About DEBRA WEBB: DEBRA WEBB is the award winning, USA Today bestselling author of more than 150 novels, including reader favorites the Faces of Evil, the Colby Agency, and the Shades of Death series. With more than four million books sold in numerous languages and countries, Debra’s love of storytelling goes back to her childhood on a farm in Alabama. Visit Debra at http://www.DebraWebb.com or write to her at PO Box 176, Madison, AL 35758.
Excerpt – BEFORE HE VANISHED by Debra Webb (Harlequin Intrigue)
The shower was like heaven on earth. Her body had needed the hot water so badly. Her muscles relaxed and she took her time, smoothing the soap over her skin and then shampooing her hair. She was grateful for the toiletry pack that included not only soap, shampoo and the usual, but disposable razors, as well.
By the time she was finished, her bones felt like rubber. She dried herself, slipped on underwear and the nightshirt and then used the hotel dryer to dry her hair. That part took the longest of all. When she exited the steamy bathroom the delicious aromas of room service had her stomach rumbling.
“Oh my God, that smells good.” She rushed to the table where the silver service sat. “Why aren’t you eating?”
“I was waiting for you.” He joined her at the table.
Ever the gentleman.
Halle curled her feet under her in her chair while Liam removed the covers from the dishes. Fish, chicken, vegetables. He had ordered all sorts of dishes and they all looked amazing.
“I thought we’d try a little of everything.”
A bottle of white wine as well as a bottle of rosé had her licking her lips.
“I wasn’t sure which one you preferred.” He gestured to the iced-down bottles. “And I didn’t forget dessert.” The final lid revealed a heavenly-looking chocolate cake with fudge icing.
“I may die right now.” She wanted to taste it all.
“Eat first.” He placed a linen napkin over his lap and stuck his fork into a tiny, perfectly roasted potato. She watched him eat and it was the sexiest thing she had ever seen. She didn’t fight it. Surrendered to instinct and that was how they ate. No plates, just taking whatever they wanted with a fork or fingers and devouring. They drank the wine and laughed at stories from their respective childhoods. From all the stories he’d told her, she could not wait to meet his sister, Claire.
By the time they were finished, she was feeling a little tipsy. The food was mostly gone and both bottles were drained. She felt more relaxed than she had in decades. They had discussed the day’s events and Burke and Austen—and Derrick. The man was still convinced she had a thing for Derrick. No way. She’d also told him what her mom had to say about any friends from Nashville the Clarks might have had, which was none who ever appeared at their door. She and Liam agreed that was somewhat unusual considering how social the Clarks had been in Winchester.
“You know,” she said, after polishing off the last of the wine in her glass, “I wrote you dozens of letters.”
She frowned and shook her head. “Andy.” Then she stared at him. “No. You. I mean you. Whatever you believe, I know you’re him.”
“Okay.” He laughed, his eyes glittering with the soft sound.
God, his mouth was sexy when he was relaxed. She put her hand to her mouth just to make sure she hadn’t said the words out loud.
“Tell me about the letters,” he prompted.
“I told you what was going on in Winchester. Who was doing what at school. I even put pictures with the letters.” She laughed. Placed her glass on the table. “It was silly, I know. But I wanted to still feel you and that was the only way I could.”
She blinked. He had moved. He was suddenly next to her, on his knees, staring into her eyes, and her breath caught.
“I don’t know if I’m this Andy you loved so much when you were a kid,” he said softly, so softly she shivered, “but I would really like to be the guy you care about now.”
Her heart swelled into her throat. She started to suggest that it was the wine talking, but it wasn’t. The truth was in his eyes. Those blue eyes she knew as well as her own. And despite her wine consumption, she was stone-cold sober as she considered what could happen between them tonight.
“I’m really glad, because I would hate to think I’m in this alone,” she confessed.
He kissed her so sweetly that tears stung her eyes. Then he stood and pulled her into his arms. He carried her to the nearest bed.
No matter what happened tomorrow, she would always cherish this night.