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...
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 *****
Labels: Leslie Parrish