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Monday, September 07, 2009:
Black At Heart by Leslie Parrish
Even as he devotes himself to catching the Internet's most despicable criminals, Wyatt Blackstone has become a master of detaching himself from his work. But after losing the vulnerable young agent for whom he cared deeply, Wyatt's famed icy control is starting to crack. He finds himself haunted by her beautiful image, especially now that someone has started picking off evildoers, with one brutal murder after another. Because the clues point to an absolutely impossible suspect: the woman the world thinks is gone forever...

This is the third, and so far final, installment in the Black CAT books by Leslie Parrish, and I'm really hoping there will be more because I hate to see this series end.

Wyatt Blackstone and the rest of his team are devastated by the senseless death of one of their own - Lily Fletcher. Despite working on some pretty horrendous cases, Lily was a sweet young woman who knew way too much about loss. So much so that it colored her world, and affected the way she did her job. Even though she had been walking a dangerous path, there was still no reason she should have died. She was one of the good ones...

But on a bitterly cold January day, he discovers that the horrible tragedy he thought to be true isn't, and so with the help of a trusted member of his team, Wyatt finds Lily and brings her back to the living, only to sequester her in a safe location so that no one knows she survived a madman who is still hunting for her.

But Lily is not the only "issue" that has to be dealt with. In addition to keeping Lily's wherabouts a secret, Wyatt is dealing with the fact that the man who kidnapped her has never been found, and now there's a new serial killer who's methods are eerily familiar. Plus the bureau is none too pleased with the sting operation that "killed" Lily, and heads are going to roll.

Wyatt has a lot on his plate, and to make matters even more complicated, he's drawn to the woman that Lily has become after her horrific ordeal. No longer the shy, people-pleasing young woman he knew before, Lily has become stronger, harder, inside and out, and he finds himself attracted to the raw, elemental woman who stands before him. He knows this time she's not going to break, but Wyatt can't give her what she needs. Never will he be the type of man to give her the white picket fence, and after everything she's been through, she deserves a shot at real happiness.

But Lily is not that woman anymore, and what she wants is exactly what Wyatt can give her. If she survives this, when she makes it through to the other side, she has every intention of showing the man she loves just exactly how good they can be together...

My thoughts:

I was so totally engrossed in the first two installments in this series, and couldn't wait to read "Black At Heart", even though I knew it might possibly be the last book (I sure hope not!). I was curious to find out about what happens to Lily, and even though I was pretty sure I knew, I still had to believe she wasn't going to really die after the 2nd book. Even though in the first two books, Lily came across uncertain and not very strong, I empathized with her after losing so much, and thought it would have been cruel to have her die in the end.

That being said, as much as I enjoyed this book, because I really did, it didn't have quite the same feel as the first two books. Here I felt there was way too much going on, between Lily coming back from the dead, the FBI breathing down Wyatt's neck, the team trying to track down the man who kidnapped Lily as well as capturing the latest serial killer, and then dealing with Wyatt's and Lily's growing feelings for one another. It's also darker; we see into the souls of two very lonely people who understand firsthand what it is to suffer the violent loss of loved ones, and who can never be content living a "normal" life. So while I wasn't expecting flowers and rainbows, the story still felt a little too grim for my liking at times. I think it was just the jarring changes Lily went through, which was totally understandable, but at the same time very sad. I suppose this is what had to happen to her in order to become the woman Wyatt could love, and to become the woman who could love a man like Wyatt.

I do think that for anyone who's read the first two books, reading "Black At Heart" is a must. We see into Wyatt's past, and he's been a character who's intrigued me since the very beginning. We watch the Black CAT team come together as a real family while at the same time using their immense talents to track down some of the most heinous criminals in existence. I love how Leslie continues to primarily focus on the job at hand, though this installment was a little different in that respect since much of the conflict existed between Wyatt and Lily themselves, and the rest fell away while these two were front and center. But it made sense for the story to play out that way in this case. Here we have two people who've known each other, who've worked together, who've gone through some tragic circumstances, both together and apart, and it only seemed right to involve them more intimately and develop their relationship on a stronger, more committed level.

I hope you all enjoyed this series as much as I did, and I'm curious to hear what your favorite story out of the three ends up being. And I am hoping and praying and begging that Leslie gets to write more about those amazing Black CATS!

Rating: **** out of *****



  1. Stacy, I loved your review of B@H. It was honest, and not disparaging. You also don't reveal too much about what was gong on. I must say that B@H is my favorite book of the entire series though. I loved the journey to find love and, in a sense, yourself. The hunt for the serial killer was great as well. I loved the plot twists, and the transformation of Lily. I know a lot of people didn't like her in the first two books, but finding out more about her backstory, as well as that of Wyatt's own journey was very well-worth the wait. Thank you for your honest take on B@H. I can't wait until I see the comments here. Have a great and relaxing reading day.

    Peace and love,
    Paula R.

  2. Stacy, I like you honest review of B@H too. I've read all three in the series and still say B@H is my favorite. I know it's because we finally get Wyatt's story. I wanted to know more about him from the very first book. I was one of those people who really didn't love Lily in the first 2 books, but loved her transformation in B@H. I do agree B@H had a different feel from the other 2 Black CATs books. In fact, of the 3 books, B@H was the only book where I figured out the bad guy before the end of the book.

  3. Paula, thank you. It was a hard review to write, and I know I didn't do it justice. You said it very eloquently though. Do you review? If not, you should!

    Liza, I admit I had really high expectations with this book, and I think that's why I wasn't 100% in love with it. I will probably do a re-read at some point soon, just to see if I react the same. I still liked it very much, it was just in a different caliber than the other 2 books.

  4. This is a great review..I just received Fade to Black and am anxious to start it:)

  5. Hi Stacy--

    Saw your Tweet about the review, thanks so much for it! Actually, your comments about Black At Heart reflect my's a darker, quieter book, more emotional-based heavily focused on the relationship between Lily and Wyatt.

    When I wrote these books, one of my main objectives was to make them as different from each other as I could, to give readers a fresh reading experience each time. Fade is more of a police procedural/mystery. Pitch is more a traditional romantic suspense. Heart has always been a little harder to define--redemption story of two dark souls, perhaps?

    Anyway, of course everybody is going to have one they like best and one least, so please don't worry about not liking this as much as the first two...lolol! I'm actually kind of glad. Was feeling a little sorry for books 1 & 2 because # 3 seemed to be everybody's face except Mrs. Giggles. And now
    (Well, and me. Fade To Black is still my favorite, couldn't say why except, perhaps, because I so loved Stacey!)

    Thanks again for your review, and your amazing support for the series. I really appreciate it and hope to someday be able to dive back into the Black CATs!

  6. Hi Stacy, thank you very much for the kind words. I don't review, primarily because I don't think I have what it takes. But, that's just my opinion right.

    Hey Les, good to see you hear. I knew this one was your fav either, but you know how I feel about Wyatt and Lily. I too DESIRE MORE Black CATs! I really do pray that you get the chance to continue the series. It is good seeing you.

    Peace and love,
    Paula R.

  7. When I wrote these books, one of my main objectives was to make them as different from each other as I could, to give readers a fresh reading experience each time.

    You certainly achieved that, Leslie! Each was unique and had its own feel to it.

    Great review, Stacy! I think I liked Fade to Black best, but I did love getting the glimpse into Wyatt, and seeing Lily's transformation. It's sometimes hard to believe in such a 180 degree turnaround, but I thought that Leslie did a quite convincing job of it.

    I also hope that we get more Black CAT books at some point - there are still more stories to tell. Or perhaps we could have a crossover book (Brandon could be loaned out to another group, right?)

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