reviewed by Pam Guynn
A cold case, multiple disappearances, a sheriff’s deputy, a search-and-rescue dog, and a former corporate lawyer are combined into a great romantic suspense novel. Laura Griffin’s Vanishing Hour has just the right mix of romance, suspense, police investigation, mystery, and action to capture and hold a reader’s interests.
Ava Burch has given up her corporate law position to go into business with her friend Jenna. Theirs is the only law firm in Cuervo, Texas. She also volunteers for search and rescue operations with her dog, Huck. Grant Wycoff is a sheriff’s deputy who doesn’t think Ava has any business being on a team with outdoorsmen, rangers, and police officers in a serious search and rescue mission. However, Ava and Huck find more than expected and they need to work with Grant when another person disappears.
Both Ava and Grant have strong work ethics and integrity. However, Ava’s father was a game warden who was frequently away from home and ultimately he and her mother divorced. This plus his death and the resulting grief and unresolved issues affect how Ava perceives law enforcement officers. Grant cares deeply about people, but is subject to frequent call-outs that can disrupt plans. However, he seemed very quick to judge Ava based on her choice of clothing and vehicle rather than on facts. This seemed more aggravating to me than to Ava, which felt out of character for her. Their chemistry grew slowly as they became better acquainted. The other characters had a variety of depths based on their roles. Ava’s friend Jenna’s struggles with her father’s Alzheimer’s will resonate with many readers. I felt Sheriff Donovan’s attitude needed an adjustment that never materialized.
This book has a solid mystery with some twists and turns that will keep readers guessing. Friendship, lies, deception, disappearances, romance, family, grief, and much more are at the heart of this story. The world-building is excellent. Readers will feel the heat, see the downtown stores, connect with the well-developed and relatable main characters, and feel like they are joining Ava and Huck and search and rescue missions. My only quibble is that there was some telling versus showing.
Overall, this engaging and entertaining romantic suspense has wonderful characterization, a little spice, and some great action. Those who enjoy romantic suspense novels will likely enjoy this book. This was a new author for me and I can’t wait to dive into another one of her stories. This one has the right mix of mystery, suspense, action, and romance.
Berkley Publishing Group and Laura Griffin provided a complimentary digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley. This is my honest review. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way. Publication date is currently set for October 25, 2022.