Hold Your Breath
By Katie Ruggle
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date: April 5, 2016
As the leader of Field County's ice rescue dive team, Callum Cook takes his responsibilities very seriously. When lives are at stake, order is necessary and Callum is nothing if not orderly. Some might say OCD orderly. A stoic man not given to humor - team members swear they've never even seen him smile - Callum isn't quite sure what to make of the new member of his dive team. Petite, blonde, and sassy, with a mouth that never quits, Lou Sparks has him intrigued, exasperated, and befuddled, something nobody has ever accomplished. He manages to keep his distance from her until the day she snags a corpse and decides to investigate the guy's death on her own. He offers his assistance - someone has to keep her out of trouble - but when it becomes apparent that someone has Lou in their sights, all bets are off. He's not leaving her side, no matter how much she insists she can handle things on her own.
I loved these two so much! They are total opposites - think Felix and Oscar from The Odd Couple - which makes the way they play off one another deliciously fun. Pair a solemn, orderly man who probably makes his bed with hospital corners and has the contents of his closet color coded and precisely folded with a woman whose mouth has no filter and who chooses what to wear by invoking the "smell test" and you know it's going to be one fun ride. I appreciated that their romance built slowly as they got to know one another, making it realistic and believable. I especially enjoyed watching both Lou and Callum grow over the course of the book, with him softening a bit and learning to find enjoyment (yes, he can smile) and Lou realizing that, with the right man, it was okay to let someone else take control without diminishing her own strength and independence. The mystery of Lou's stalker and the suspense within the book are exceptionally well written. The author had me on the edge of my seat many times and wove in enough twists and turns to keep me from figuring out the villain's identity until the reveal. I love when they can do that!
This book introduces many secondary characters who have roles of varying importance within Hold Your Breath but are used to establish the landscape of Field County and, hopefully, begin to set the stage for future stories. I'm already intrigued by several of them.
Katie Ruggle is an exciting new voice in contemporary romantic suspense and I'm so happy I discovered her straight out of the gate. I have fallen in love with her characters and, of course, want all of the men and women of Field County to find their happy-ever-after. I'm hoping she has a very long series planned!