Keeping secrets close…and an enemy closer…
His protection instincts on high alert, KCPD detective Trent Dixon knew something was wrong with Katie Rinaldi. The special investigator had obviously uncovered a dangerous piece of evidence while looking into a cold case. So dangerous, in fact, that the single mother's life was now in jeopardy. But as much as Trent told himself he was keeping tabs on Katie and her young son as part of his job, he couldn't ignore the very real feelings he had for her. Still, as a professional, he was bound to the badge and would give Katie all the security she deserved. And not give in to the attraction he was having trouble containing…
Very good book and conclusion to the Cold Case series of books. Katie and Trent are both members of the Cold Case unit at KCPD. They are also old friends, having known each other since they were in high school. Katie and her young son are members of a local theater group where Tyler is playing the part of Tiny Tim and Katie does the costumes. When she isn't needed she uses the time to do some of her cold case research for work.
At the beginning of the story Katie, who is a genius on the computer, has uncovered what appears to be some links between several cold cases. That night, at the theater, some strange things happen that make her feel threatened. Scared, she calls Trent, but then tells him not to worry she was actually okay. Trent, unconvinced, shows up at the theater, but Katie and Tyler are already gone. He notices some things that are suspicious, and also rescues an abandoned dog.
The next day at work Trent tries to get Katie to tell him what happened, but she insists that she was panicking over nothing. In the meantime, Katie fills in the rest of the team on what she has found. It is looking more and more like the links they have found may lead to a mob boss they have been trying to nail for a long time.
The relationship between Katie and Trent is one of friendship, by Katie's insistence. As a kid she and her mother suffered from her father's physical and mental abuse, then she saw her father murder her mother. She has always felt responsible for that happening. Then in high school she got pregnant, was kidnapped by someone who wanted to steal her baby to sell it, and lost a good friend to the same man. She and Tyler were rescued, and she has been determined to make better choices in her life ever since. She also has a hard time trusting other people, especially men. Trent's friendship has meant a lot to her and to Tyler, so she refuses to take a chance on ruining that friendship with anything else. Trent has been in love with Katie for years. He wants nothing more than to marry her and become Tyler's father, but Katie won't take a chance on them. So he takes her friendship and tries to make the best of it.
As the danger to Katie and Tyler increases, Trent's protective instincts overpower his attempts to follow Katie's rules. I loved seeing him pull them closer to him and overcome Katie's objections. I also loved the way that he gave in to his need to kiss her, and how that one kiss started changing the way Katie looked at him. She had forced herself to keep him in the "friend zone", but that kiss has really opened her eyes to the man he has become. It was fun to see how she was suddenly noticing his physical attributes and how sexy he was. Unfortunately, her fears still have her resisting what her heart really wants. I really liked how Trent's patience and persistence finally started to break down the walls around her heart. But it isn't until she thinks she'll never see him again that she can admit to herself how much she has always loved him.
I loved following Katie and the team as they worked their way through the information she uncovered. The events of the previous two books are included in this one as they are finally able to link the crimes together and to the man behind them. It was fascinating to see the connections uncovered and how each one led to another. The escalation of the threats against Katie kept the intensity high. Though it was pretty obvious who the man behind it all was, it was the people in between that kept me guessing. The final confrontation was fantastic. I especially loved how Katie kept her head and used her skills to help the team find her at the same time she kept the bad guy focused on what he had her doing. The arrival of the team came at just the right time and how it all worked out was perfect. I loved seeing the bad guy's final plan thwarted.
The last chapter was the perfect wrapup to the trilogy. As always, I loved the way characters from previous books are an integral part of the story, not just tossed in as filler. The support they always give each other, both professionally and personally, makes their relationships seem that much more real. I love some of the conversations between Trent and Max. The ending was really sweet as the whole team comes to see Tyler in the play, and Tyler gets his biggest Christmas wish.