Review: Every Breath She Takes by Norah Wilson

Posted September 28, 2012 by Vampbard in 4 stars, Military or Suspense Romance, Rating A Tags: , ,

Every Breath She Takes
Author: Norah Wilson
Release Date: Sept. 4, 2012 
Publisher: Montlake Romance
ISBN: 978-1612184685
Genre: Romantic Suspense 
Format(s): Paperback (312 pgs), e-book
Book Source: Author
About the book:
Previously published as Lauren’s Eyes.
Veterinarian Lauren Townsend has good reason for hiding her psychic ability. Not only did her “freakishness” earn her pariah status in the small town where she grew up, it cost her a fiancé and her faith in love. When Lauren foresees a murder—through the killer’s eyes—she traces the victim to a sprawling ranch, never guessing what waits for her…
Cal Taggart’s rugged ranch life doesn’t need any more complications. His stubborn determination cost him his marriage, and now may cost him his livelihood. But then beautiful Lauren enters his corral…with danger close behind. And Cal wants nothing more than to protect her. They can’t deny their intense attraction. Nor do they want to. What begins as a fling with no strings becomes a fight for survival—and for true love.
What VampBards talking about:
Even if you’ve never read a western story in your life, pick up Norah Wilson’s Every Breath She Takes; it’s witty, intellectual, and steamy.  Something for every reader of the genre!  I was a bit nervous when I read the synopsis of the book, but I’m game for new stuff.  I’d never read a contemporary-romantic-suspense-western, and I’d say Ms. Wilson did an excellent job breaking me into the genre.  Is that a genre?  If not, it should be.
I had a LOT of passages that I felt were well-crafted throughout the book, and while composing this review, I’ve struggled with choosing those representative of Ms. Wilson’s craft, as well as those that exemplify her characters.  
First, I’d like to note that Lauren, our heroine, is a strong, independent woman.  She also has premonitions.  The only thing that can shake Lauren’s confidence in herself is sharing her visions with someone else.  
Cal, our rugged, swaggering cowboy / ex-rodeo star / ranch owner has his own demons to battle, beginning with his childhood and his relationship with his father.  The difficulties followed him through his adult life and into his marriage with his now-ex wife – currently a guest at his ranch.  
Marlena, Cal’s ex-wife, is the target of the killer.  Lauren knows, because she’s seen his hands reaching out and choking the life out of her, during her premonitions.  However, I’d like to go on record as saying that I’m not a big fan of Marlena (although I don’t think we’re meant to be!), and I feel as though she brought the excitement near the end upon herself.  
Cal & Lauren go well together.  Their immediate attraction is evident:

“I was thinking, maybe you’d like a livelier mount, since you’re obviously a skilled rider.” (Cal to Lauren) 

“Thank you, no.  I’ll stick with slow and steady.”

His hooded eyes suddenly took on a sleepy, sensual look.  “That’s a sensible decision, ma’am.  But if you should get a yen for fast and wild, just give me a shout.”  

Yes.  The sexual tension begins the minute Lauren arrives on the ranch.  Cal flat-out explains:

Damn, what was it about her that drew his eye?  She was tall, but not underfed like so many of the stick women who came through here these days.  Yet she didn’t have the hourglass figure he usually went for.  Her hips were narrow, her breasts small.  Even her hair, black as a raven’s wing, was cropped short.  She should have looked boyish. Instead she exuded an athletic femininity that excited him.

… In fact, from watching her, he got the feeling that she saw everything more acutely than everyone else.  More deeply.  And when she turned those blue eyes on him, it never failed to give him a jolt – almost a tingling shock.  It was damned unnerving.

I thought it was refreshing to see the vulnerability in Cal.  Most of the heroes in stories have the crunchy outer shell and we don’t always get to see the rich, creamy center.  With Cal, we do.
The secondary characters, including Cal’s ranch hands, his ex-wife & her current fling, a local ranch owner, and a surprise visitor in the last 1/3 of the book, bring a special ‘flavor’ of authenticity to  Every Breath She Takes.  
With Lauren on a mission to save Marlena, every sunset Lauren is painfully aware that one more day has passed and she was no closer to finding Marlena’s (potential) killer.  When a non-romantic plot conflict arises that could cause Cal to lose his ranch, Lauren and her veterinary skills save the day.  Watch for this pretty awesome sub-plot…see if YOU can figure out what’s really going on!  I was stumped for a minute…
While both Cal and Lauren had agree to the ‘friends-with-benefits’ relationship, things didn’t stay that way for long:

When his world righted itself again, Lauren clung to him with a desperation he knew was echoed in his own fierce embrace.  

Whoa, Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore. 

As Lauren and Cal work together to keep the ranch afloat, they become closer and closer.  Lauren was conflicted as to whether she should tell Cal about her premonitions, as doing so hadn’t worked out so well, previously.  She does ultimately tell him… and you’ll have to pick up a copy of Every Breath She Takes to find out whether he believed her, or not.  The rising action in the last half of the book was a crazy roller coaster ride…in a good way.  I read the final third in one sitting, and I couldn’t go to bed until I’d finished.  
Every Breath She Takes provides the reader with an intellectual, witty, and clairvoyant heroine that takes “ride ’em, cowboy!” to a whole new level.  Ms. Wilson has crafted a fabulous world wherein readers can take a vacation on a ranch to simply escape.  
VampBards Rating:
Enjoyed – strongly recommend (A-)

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