Format Read: eGalley
Source: the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: August 19, 2014
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Blurb from goodreads:
Dr. Emory Charbonneau, a pediatrician and marathon runner, disappears on a mountain road in North Carolina. By the time her husband Jeff, miffed over a recent argument, reports her missing, the trail has grown cold. Literally. Fog and ice encapsulate the mountainous wilderness and paralyze the search for her.
While police suspect Jeff of "instant divorce," Emory, suffering from an unexplained head injury, regains consciousness and finds herself the captive of a man whose violent past is so dark that he won't even tell her his name. She's determined to escape him, and willing to take any risks necessary to survive.
Unexpectedly, however, the two have a dangerous encounter with people who adhere to a code of justice all their own. At the center of the dispute is a desperate young woman whom Emory can't turn her back on, even if it means breaking the law.
As her husband's deception is revealed, and the FBI closes in on her captor, Emory begins to wonder if the man with no name is, in fact, her rescuer.
Well, if this is typical for Ms. Brown, I clearly need to read more of her books. I have read a few, some years back, but I don't recall that they were anything like this. "Mean Streak", which could apply to more than one character in the story, is twisty, complicated, and full of surprises. Who are the good guys, who are the bad guys, and what is really going on?
Brown plays it close, sharing info and facts sparingly. This results in the reader not always being entirely sure what is going on. While occasionally it was annoying, most of the time it worked and kept me reading to find out more and see if my ideas and predictions were right. I knew that our hero, who was nameless for much of the book, was not quite as he seemed. I found it unlikely he would be as villainous as Brown made him seem; some authors would go that right but nothing I'd heard about Brown led me to believe she would. I was surprised that a man of his intelligence would fail to provide Emory with some sort of name, real or false. All it did was pique her curiosity and frustrate her. That made no sense whatsoever to me. It did keep her off-balance so maybe it made sense from that perspective but I still think some sort of name would have been more sensible. But then I'm not a wanted man so what do I know? :P
The romance between Emory and our nameless protagonist was problematic at times. I could believe the physical attraction and that circumstances could result in heightened emotions but anything longer lasting or more believable seemed unlikely at first. Gradually, though, as the story goes on, and especially at the end, the romance becomes more likely and I no longer questioned its validity. There was one story option that Brown didn't take it and I think it was a missed opportunity. At one point, Emory's husband thinks to himself that adultery is not a crime. WRONG! In at least 21 states in the US it IS a crime including the state where the story is set. Legal consequences, depending on the state, range from a small fine to imprisonment. Now THAT would have been quite a twist, especially as more than one character is guilty of adultery. Ah well, perhaps another story.
None of the characters were perfect nor were any of them all evil, though a few came close; all had flaws and I always enjoy that. Perfect characters are unbelievable and tiring. But these were believable, realistic, and for the most part, likable. Some were better developed than betters but that was partly due to Brown's tendency to hoard information.
Despite the missed story line and imperfect main romance (there were several secondary romances), I loved "Mean Streak". It kept me reading, kept me guessing, and kept me changing my mind and my feelings about different characters. There were a few moments of predictability but overall, this was a roller coaster with terrifying heights and stomach-dropping lows. It's thrilling, fascinating, and will keep you up late reading.
Sandra Brown is the author of more than sixty New York Times bestsellers, including DEADLINE (2013), LOW PRESSURE (2012), LETHAL (2011), TOUGH CUSTOMER (2010), SMASH CUT (2009), SMOKE SCREEN (2008), PLAY DIRTY (2007), RICOCHET (2006), and CHILL FACTOR, all of which have jumped onto the Times bestseller list in the number one to five spot.
Brown began her writing career in 1981 and since then has published over seventy novels, bringing the number of copies of her books in print worldwide to upwards of eighty million. Her work has been translated into thirty-four languages.
Brown holds an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Texas Christian University. She served as the president of the Mystery Writers of American in 2012 and was named ITW's Thriller Master for 2008, the top award given by the International Thriller Writer’s Association. Other awards and commendations include the 2007 Texas Medal of Arts Award for Literature and the Romance Writers of America’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
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