Cover Me by Margaret Watson
Series: The Donovan Family #5 (can standalone)
Genre: romantic suspense, mystery
Themes: law enforcement, fake relationship, office romance
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Chicago cop Brendan Donovan loves the adrenaline rush of his role on a tactical team. So when he’s assigned to an undercover job to ferret out the supplier of a new and deadly sex drug, he’s thrilled. His partner is Cilla Marini, a detective he’d met recently during a traffic stop. He’s intrigued by Cilla, but his sister told him that Cilla doesn’t date cops. Which is exactly what they have to pretend to do. Brendan loves a challenge.
Cilla is shocked to find out that Brendan is her mystery partner. After an incident that forced her to transfer from her district and isolated her from her fellow cops, Cilla knows relationships with cops are off the table. But she’s spent far too much time thinking about Brendan since he pulled her over for speeding. Now, not only are they working together, they have to pose as a couple to find the source of the sex drug that’s already killed several men.
As the action heats up, Cilla and Brendan don’t have to pretend they want each other. But when secrets put them both in danger, will they have each other’s back? Or will their quarry divide and conquer them before they can find their way to happily ever after?
“A partnership is like a marriage, you know? Sometimes it’s the pairs who are the least alike that do the best.”
The first book I’ve read by Margaret Watson, I was immediately struck by how excellent and fluid the writing was, weaving this mystery that, even without the romantic subplot, was interesting in itself. This is one novel which Ididn’t guess the outcome of before the big reveals, which is a nice surprise. What I found particularly intriguing was that Watson managed to string together several different plots, from hostage situations to shootings, whilst ensuring that it all felt relevant to the overall storyline, whether for relationship, character or plot progression.
Indian summer felt like spring, the warm air and sunshine promising new beginnings, but it was really an ending. A lead-in to a cold, dark, lonely, winter.
Cilla and Brendan’s reactions in the aftermath of stressful events were also something I don’t tend to read much of; the need to feel alive as a justification for acting like adolescent fuckwads and adrenaline junkies (and, as I was so wrapped up in the story, it felt like a good enough justification for me). Similarly, their relationship progression, although having a dose of sickening insta-love to begin with, had enough angst that wasn’t forced but reminded myself of how a normal person may react when faced with those particular circumstances – which is again a pleasant change.
The main criticism I have (aside from the final third of the novel needing a little more thorough proof-reading) is that although I know a lot about these characters’ histories, and their hopes and dreams, I was still left feeling a little cold towards them. Cilla was strong and independent, and I loved her refusal to be labelled a victim. But aside from that, neither really gripped me and made me care all that much, or give me an emotional attachment to the novel.
He pressed his mouth to hers and kissed her hard. As if he’d been holding it inside too long and the need to claim her was too much to contain.
Overall, a highly enjoyable mystery/suspense/romance which, despite its occasionally cheesy nature, has gripped me enough to want to read the others in the series.