“FINDING CLAIRE (HILL COUNTRY SECRETS),” BY PAMELA HUMPHREY
PUBLICATION: PHREY PRESS; DECEMBER 5, 2016
Synopsis: She wakes up in the back of a van, and her whole world changes.
Injured and afraid–with no recollection of who she is–she stumbles through the Texas Hill Country with a photo labeled Claire. Seeking safety, she knocks at Alex’s cabin door. He protects her, even though she stirs up memories that haunt him.
She wants her life back. He wants to ease his guilt and will protect her even if it means risking his own life. Together they search, hoping questions will be answered by Finding Claire.
This mystery/suspense/romance was just what the doctor ordered today! “Finding Claire” is the upcoming release from author, Pamela Humphrey, about a young woman who is kidnapped, escapes, finds refuge – but has no clue who she is. She wakes up briefly in the back of a van with canned food items rolling around hitting her in the head as the van drives. Taken somewhere dark and remote, she is led into a cabin with hands tied behind her back and locked into a closet. Every few hours, one of the two kidnappers opens the door and gives her a bologna and mayo sandwich (yuck) and a few sips of water. But after a trip to the restroom and her hands being tied in her front instead of back, she manages to escape. Not knowing where she is, she stumbles through the darkness and fog, falling and cutting herself several times, until she sees a cat sitting in a cabin window. Alex is still mourning the death of his wife from several years ago and is sitting alone in his cabin when there is a knock at the door. He opens it to find a bloody, dirty, mangled-looking woman with her hands tied. Even worse, she has no idea who she is.
I’m going to call the main character “Rainy,” because that’s what Alex names her while they are still trying to uncover her real identity. This novel opens with Rainy making her way through the dark woods, falling on everything, crawling under a barbed-wire fence, and so on – all with her hands tied by a rope. Despite her fear and trauma, when she spots Alex’s cat, Bureau, in the window, she feels safe and knocks on the door. For whatever reason, she immediately feels safe with Alex and he, in turn, immediately becomes her protector. The main thing I can say about Rainy is – this is a super strong and dynamic character. She’s been through hell, doesn’t know who she is, and maintains an exceptional attitude while trying to figure out who she is and why she was kidnapped. Alex is somewhat brooding at first, having kept to himself since the death of his wife, except for DJ (local law enforcement) and his wife, Becca. Despite Alex’s preference for solitude and distance, he can’t help his overwhelming feelings of wanting to help and protect Rainy from the time he first opens the door. I quickly learned while reading how handsome, intelligent and caring that Alex was, however, he continued to fight past demons about his wife’s death and guilt he felt about it – although not at all his fault. DJ and Becca were also wonderful characters that were very level-headed, loving and caring. Becca, especially, quickly took Rainy under her wing trying to help and comfort her, all the while trying to protect her and Alex from hurting each other with their developing feelings.
I loved the overall premise of this novel, although I think that the climax/conclusion became rather predictable very early on in the novel. Despite that, this was an entertaining and engaging suspense thriller mixed with romance, love and loss. The subplot of trying to figure out “Claire’s” identity flowed well with the investigation regarding Rainy’s disappearance, and also revealed secrets from this small town’s past and tragic events that had happened many years earlier. What was interesting is the times that I felt most nervous or in suspense, ended up being perfectly fine, such as when Rainy was at Travis’ office. I was convinced something was very wrong, but it wasn’t! I love that the author was able to continue a roller coaster of suspense from beginning to end, but also not make things completely frustrating. I especially loved Claire’s mother’s letters over the years. I can’t go into detail without spoilers, but it prompted several tissue-worthy moments that also added to the mystery of the novel.
If I remember correctly, the author plans to continue Alex and Rainy’s story, and I absolutely cannot wait to read more. I’ve already downloaded the short story about DJ’s wife, Becca, and cannot wait to find out more about Alex and Rainy. If you have not yet read Pamela Humphrey, she needs to be added to your list of author’s to watch. She embodies wonderful storytelling skills and reels you in from the first paragraph.
Learn more about Pamela Humphrey by visiting her web page!
*Thanks to the author for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review!