Guilty as Sin
by Jami Alden
Fourteen years ago, Kate Beckett was a teenager more interested in summer romance than babysitting. Then the unthinkable happened: her younger brother was kidnapped and murdered on her watch. Now she is an advocate for missing children, and her newest case brings her back to the small town where she lost her brother-and where she left behind the first boy she ever loved.
Tommy Ibarra's world fell apart after Kate broke his heart, and he's spent his adult life making sure that he'll never be vulnerable again. When a teenage girl vanishes, he offers his expertise as a high tech security expert to help find her. Although he's determined to keep his distance from Kate, it isn't long before he's falling under her spell all over again.
As they race against the clock, their investigation leads to a brutal killer with a shocking connection to Kate's tragic past. And this time, the killer has Kate firmly in his sites.
Jami Alden is one of those authors that are a staple to the romance suspense genre. She is able to build relationships while focusing on the thrilling plot she is leading the reader along. I have been a fan for a long time and Guilty as Sin reminds me once again why I love this author so much. It is full of emotional tragedy, rebuilding of friendships and romantic reunions, along with bringing the reader full circle and teaching us that sometimes the darkest of evils hides in plain sight. If you've ever watched a police mystery and found yourself hooked until the good guys finally bring the bad guy to justice, you will not be disappointed with this story.
The story begins with a prologue where we get to meet Kate and Tommy as they are caught in the first blush of young love. Sadly their love was torn apart by the tragedy of her young brother’s murder. That loss leaves both Kate and Tommy with broken hearts, and the fallout of that night was catastrophic and far reaching for both of them. Almost fifteen years later, Kate and Tommy are forced back together on a case that bares a striking resemblance to the night their lives were torn apart. Kate is willing to work with Tommy; no matter how hard it is for them both, putting aside their pasts and current issues, they try to bring a missing young girl home to her family. But the feelings of love and lust aren't as far from their minds and hearts as they both once thought. And as danger circles them and Kate finds herself in mortal danger, Tommy realizes that this might be the second chance he always wanted with Kate, if he can get past his emotional hang-ups and embrace the true feelings that have never faded.
Tommy was one of those guys that frustrate me beyond my ability to like him for most of the story. He was so hurt by Kate and her father’s wrath when he was young, but any growth he has found over the last decade and a half is not readily apparent to the readers. The minute Kate is back in his life he is right back to being that broken nineteen year old. While he’s willing to give in to the lust he feels, he fights himself and Kate to keep his emotions closed down, even to the point of inflicting pain to Kate over and over again. His sharp barbs and cuts about her as a young girl and the woman that she has become got a bit maddening and I wanted to just tell him to grow the hell up several times. Thankfully he does finally grow up and accept that the past cannot be changed, but the future is his own choice to make how he wants.
Kate on the other hand is definitely a damaged heroine. Her past mistakes have become the focus of her life; she uses her work every day as a way to atone for her mistakes and takes the blame for everything that happened even though she was just a young girl whose single mistake changed the course of her entire world. Her lack of confidence is perfectly understandable when we see how her own family turned against her after her brother’s death. Kate gives into her body’s needs to be with Tommy, even knowing in her heart that he hasn't forgiven or forgotten, and that he will hurt her in the end. As she comes to have deeper and deeper feelings for him, Kate tries to come to terms with Tommy’s issues and help him work past them, even though he is stubborn. When she is pulled into the dangerous sights of a serial killer she knows that Tommy will protect her to the end, though she can’t allow herself to depend on Tommy for emotional support. But maybe, just maybe, he has grown up enough to be the man she needs after all.
In the end, Guilty as Sin was a great read for any romance or suspense fan. Kate and Tommy both definitely had their emotional issues to work through, but working together they found their confidence both individually and together. I will say that though the suspense was well written, I had a sick feeling in the put of my stomach from the beginning about who the bad guy really was. Seeing Tommy and Kate both earn justice for Michael and all the other victims and bring the bad guy down, was a great ending to the story. I enjoyed reading this story even though there were definitely some heavy moments and a lot of emotional turmoil that brought tears a few times. The ending was fitting and finally seeing Tommy and Kate have their long awaited and well earned HEA was fulfilling and left me with that warm fuzzy feeling in my heart. Another great read from Ms. Alden and I’m looking forward to what’s next.