He Is Watching by Denise Carbo

He Is Watching by Denise Carbo
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short story (114 pages)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Stalked and on the run, Julie Roy’s life is in shambles. An unexpected detour in a quiet Vermont town ignites a surprising and romantic spark with the local furniture maker.

Joe Bascomb’s skill of knowing when to be patient is put to the test when he meets Julie. Her kindness is a gift, yet he senses she is hiding from something or someone.
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When Julie’s determined stalker comes to town, she is ready to pull up stakes—despite her desire to stay. Joe realizes he will have to break down her fear as well as the walls around her tender heart. Can he keep her from running again in order to give their love a chance?

Julie had reported her stalker many times to the police, but while they had tried to find out who he was, it had led them nowhere. When the stalker sends her photos of herself taken unaware while she was relaxing inside her apartment Julie has had enough. Desperate to escape she leaves her life behind and runs. Can she escape and ever find a sense of comfort and safety again?

I found this to be an emotional and well written mystery story. Very quickly I became attached to Julie and sympathized with her plight. While a part of me wished she’d continued to report the photos and harassment from her stalker to the police – so they’d have a record of what had happened, if nothing else – I couldn’t fault her for finally cracking and having enough and running away to try and escape and find some peace. The situation felt a little corny to me as I read it, but it was realistic and all-too-understandable so I couldn’t really fault it.

There were a few parts to the story that just didn’t gel and make sense to me, like the afore-mentioned stage where Julie simply stopped reporting events to the police, or how she withdrew the maximum amount of cash from an ATM so she couldn’t be traced, but then checked into the random hotel she picked from a brochure on impulse with her credit card. It seemed odd to about-face on using her credit card after the space of only a few hours and with a huge wad of cash in her purse. These were small niggles though and while they made me pause and wonder I could over-look them and simply enjoy the story for what it was – an atmospheric and character driven suspense/mystery story, Julie’s character was relatable and someone I could easily empathize with. The plot was strong and well-written and overall I really enjoyed the story.

Readers looking for a hard or really intense thriller/stalker type of story probably won’t find this suits there tastes. While I found the plot deep and realistic, the stalker aspect was only one large part of the plot – not an all-consuming drive that saturates the entire story. Personally, I was pleased that the small town Julie finds herself in, and her very slow-blossoming relationship with Joe, a native to the small town, had a good amount of time and space within the story to flourish. This helped take much of the edge off the thriller/stalker aspect to the story for me and helped me relax and really enjoy both the scenery and characters.

With a strong plot, plenty of thrills, action and a lovely slow-paced romance I found that this story really ticks all the boxes of an excellent mystery/suspense. Recommended.

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