The Books of Love: Grievous Harm by Sandy Curtis

Reviewed by LynC

Grievous-Harm-front-coverThe blurb…

When a child is in danger, every second counts.

In Sydney, Australia, The Loving Hand church understands how children can be a commodity more precious than gold.

When Kate Maclaren flies in from Los Angeles, desperate to find her missing niece, she opens a door into this world, and uncovers a network of corruption and cruelty that stretches across the country.

Agent John Corey, torn by long-buried guilt, and harbouring  secrets he must not reveal, joins

forces with Kate to expose the sinister cult before more children disappear. He will risk everything, even defying orders, to help Kate uncover the truth and keep her safe.

But when their journey into Australia’s Outback reveals the psychopath at the centre of the network, it is Kate who discovers she will do anything for the people she loves.

The review…

Sandy Curtis is one of those strong, no-nonsense, get out and do things people, and her protagonist reflects every ounce of this. Try to thwart her? She’ll find a way around you. So, both her reluctant companion – John Corey, and the people threatening her niece’s wellbeing find.

Used to bailing out her sister-in-law when she gets herself in trouble, Kate flies in expecting to have to do so again. What she doesn’t expect is that her sister-in-law has willingly taken herself and her daughter (Kate’s niece) off into the wilds of NSW to a hippy style commune. It takes all her ingenuity and acting skills to follow her. Along the way she collects a tail in John Corey, a government employee in a department which answers directly to the PM’s Office and no-one else, who follows her because she is unwittingly a lead in his investigations into a child abuse case.

He breaks cover to rescue her, and from there the two travel together, little realising their different agendas will turn out to be the same one. Without his knowledge of Australia’s unforgiving bushland, his undercover skills, and his police skills she could not have succeeded. Without her he has a tendency to wallow in guilt and forget that the danger to the children is nigh and must be dealt with urgently. He needs her to keep him focussed on the important things in life.

Sandy, living in Bundaberg in remote Australia, knows her stuff when it comes to cattle, rodeos, and survival in the Australian bushland, and she imbues John with all those skills.When Kate and John are caught and tortured and raped (Yes, there is a realistic rape scene.), it may be Kate’s ingenuity which gets them free, but it is John’s know how which saves them.

The rape puts a massive barrier between their growing attraction, and attempts later to overwrite the memories are only partially successful, but <*spoiler alert* – scrollover to read text> after Kate’s niece, Cindy, is rescued and John is hospitalized for his efforts, this barrier loses its potency. It will always be there, but their co-dependency, friendship, and attraction is expected to win out in a most satisfying way.

I do have a bit of a gripe about her characterization of Glen, the Hostel receptionist, who is so helpful to Kate. He came over as too aggressively gay at first, but later when he became a real person, Sandy toned him down – until, that is, he needed to be so overt in order to throw someone chasing Kate off the trail. I suspect she is not that familiar with members of the LGBTIQA (or QUILTBAG) community, but set Glen up as gay because it was a very useful plot point.

Oh, and if any Americans reading the book are surprised at the lack of Indigenes and Kangaroos in the Outback; Australia, the ‘real’ Australia, is like that. Sandy paints a very realistic picture of our cattle country, and utilises it well as a major player in the plot.

From the opening lines ‘The sign above the front door said the brothel was legal.’, to the closing scenes I was hooked. We know from that opening scene to the final pages just what is at stake and we are as eager as the protagonists to prevent any further harm to the children. Both John and Kate are sympathetic protagonists whom we want to be successful, not only in their individual quests, but also, in their relationship. Sandy Curtis does not fail us.

An excellent, fast paced read from beginning to end.

Buy Grievous Harm

About LynC

LynCLynC is a 50-something year old widow, juggling the demands of writing Science Fiction and being a single Mum.

In the past two years LynC has had four short stories published; one of which — Nematalien — was nominated for an award in 2013. Her first novel — Nil By Mouth (Satalyte Publishing) — was launched at the Australian National Science Fiction Convention in Melbourne in June 2014. (Narrelle’s note: this is an excellent book and I recommend it highly.)

LynC resides, with her two ‘new’ adults, four cats, and two canaries, in a hidden area less than ten kilometres from the Melbourne CBD (in Australia) surrounded by creeks and wooded hills.

The Books of Love are romance book reviews of both new releases and old favourites.