Midnight Sacrifice by Melinda Leigh

MIDNGIHT


Midnight Sacrifice by Melinda Leigh
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Holiday, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (323 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Thistledown

One by one, people are mysteriously disappearing from a small Maine town.

Four months ago, a ruthless murderer killed two people and kidnapped three more, including Danny Sullivan’s sister, who barely escaped. Unfortunately so did the killer, vanishing without a trace into the vast wilderness. When the police fail to find his sister’s captor, Danny returns to Maine to hunt him down.

He begins his search with another survivor, bed and breakfast owner Mandy Brown, but her refusal to cooperate raises Danny’s suspicions. What is the beautiful innkeeper hiding?

Mandy Brown has a secret. But sexy Danny Sullivan, his relentless questions, and the desire that simmers between them threaten to expose the truth. A revelation that puts her family in danger. As more people disappear, it becomes clear the killer is planning another ritual…and that he’s circling in on Mandy.

A murderer stalks the wild woods of Maine. He has set his sights on Mandy Brown, an innkeeper with secrets that may threaten the safety of all she holds dear.

Four months ago, Danny Sullivan thwarted a murder attempt on Mandy Brown and her best friend Jed. Nathan, the town mayor, had erected a Celtic human sacrifice deep in the woods. Nathan vanished, leaving Mandy to pick up the pieces, Jed to recover from a nearly fatal wound and Danny to track down the killer’s steps, even if they lead back to a place no one would ever suspect.

Mandy is a woman burdened with the responsibilities of caring for a special needs brother, an ailing mother and running an inn all by herself. She begins to receive threatening messages and photographs in the mail and begins to fear that Nathan has come back. She dare not let anyone get too close, lest Nathan rip what is left of her life to shreds. She holds a secret that could knock the murder case right on its head.

Danny Sullivan is a man on a mission. He is trying to solve the murder of his sister at the hands of Nathan. Not only has he fallen for the pretty innkeeper, he has a score to settle with the murderer of his sister. As strange accidents begin to happen, and he and Mandy are forced together he begins to wonder what dark secrets are hiding in the Maine woods and behind the eyes of the woman he is growing to love.

The mystery and intrigue in Midnight Sacrifice are a catalyst for a brilliant page turning experience. Add in the romance between Danny and Mandy and you have some pretty intense sparks ready to burst into flame. The murderer has someone helping him even as I devoured the pages in search of an answer, author Melinda Leigh didn’t give it away with anything obvious. She had me guessing until the last second and that is something in a mystery novel that I value immensely. Don’t hand it to me on a platter, make me work for it and that was exactly what she did.

Seeing Nathan growing up with the twisted circumstances of his family made him very real and all the more scary. Is there a kind of disease that warps the mind like that until you can’t sleep and it totally degrades the brain into a pile of mush? I don’t know, but wow that was a great story line. Using the Celtic mythology and the re-birth of spring with Beltane and the May Queen ideal was a brilliant use of symbolism.

The romance between Mandy and Danny was fraught with insecurities. Commitment issues, guilt over secrets and shame all played a part in how they reacted to each other. The tension between Jed wanting Mandy and her becoming infatuated with Danny was another element that added spice to the mix. The sexual tension and love scenes were well done. I love characters that aren’t perfect and have the scars to prove it, whether they are physical or have something lying just beneath the surface that they have to tame before they can really see the other person staring back at them in the mirror, let alone someone else. Danny had that big time, and so did Mandy. Each of them had their own demons to slay and that made it much more identifiable and realistic.

I enjoyed the building suspense of this novel. The mystery interwoven with romance and the sheer terror of experiencing what the victims were experiencing at Nathan’s crazed whims were enough to have me bringing this book everywhere I went until the last page was turned with a sigh. I wanted it to last forever and I will be watching for more books by this author.

When I am in the mood for mystery and alluring characters that tug at my heart strings, I will be reaching for another Melinda Leigh. I just hope she writes another one quick!

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