Author: K.A. Tucker
Publisher: Atria, Simon and Schuster
Publication date: January 23rd 2018
Target Audience: Adult
Genres: Romance, Suspense
Length: 448 Pages
Find It: Goodreads
Buy It: Amazon|B&N|Book Depository
Making a Murderer meets Scandal in this story of police corruption, family secrets, and illicit affairs from bestselling author K.A. Tucker, celebrated for her “propulsive plot twists and searing seduction” (USA TODAY).
Noah Marshall has known a privileged and comfortable life thanks to his mother, the highly decorated chief of the Austin Police Department. But all that changes the night she reveals a skeleton that's been rattling in her closet for years, and succumbs to the guilt of destroying an innocent family's life. Reeling with grief, Noah is forced to carry the burden of this shocking secret.
Gracie Richards wasn't born in a trailer park, but after fourteen years of learning how to survive in The Hollow, it's all she knows anymore. At least here people don't care that her dad was a corrupt Austin cop, murdered in a drug deal gone wrong. Here, she and her mother are just another family struggling to survive...until a man who clearly doesn't belong shows up on her doorstep.
Despite their differences, Noah and Gracie are searching for answers to the same questions, and together, they set out to uncover the truth about the Austin Police Department's dark and messy past. But the scandal that emerges is bigger than they bargained for, and goes far higher up than they ever imagined.
Complex, gritty, sexy, and thrilling, Keep Her Safe solidifies K.A. Tucker's reputation as one of today's most talented new voices in romantic suspense.
“No, not your father … Abe.”
I haven’t heard her say that name in years.
I ask cautiously, “Abraham, Abe?”
“Hmmm.” She nods. Again, that wistful smile touches her lips. “You remember him, don’t you?”
“Of course.” He was the tall man with ebony skin and a wide smile who taught me how to dribble a ball. He was my mother’s police partner for years, and one of her best friends for even longer.
Until he was killed by a cocaine dealer, only to be labeled a corrupt cop after his death. I was eleven when he died. I didn’t understand what that meant, only that whatever Abraham Wilkes did was bad. It made statewide news and broadened an already perceptible racial divide within the community. It made Mom start drinking, and I’m pretty sure it broke apart our family.
“He was a good man.” Her voice drifts off with her gaze, as her eyes begin to water. “He was a good, honest man.”
I wander back toward the table. “I thought he was stealing and dealing drugs.”
She chuckles as she takes another drag of her cigarette. It’s a sad, empty sound. “That’s what everyone thinks, because that’s what they made them think. But you …” She pokes the air with her finger, her normally neat and trim fingernails chewed to the quick. “You need to know the truth. I need you to know that he was a good man and we are bad, bad people.”
“Who’s bad?” I’m desperate to pull the chair out and sit down across from her again, to listen to whatever it is she’s trying to tell me. But I also don’t think she realizes what she’s divulging. And I don’t want to give her pause to clue in and clam up.
She dumps her cigarette pack out on the table, scattering a half dozen cigarettes before finding one to light. “You know he broke Dina. Ran her and that beautiful little girl out of town. She was so young when Abe died. Gracie. He always smiled when he said her name.” Mom smiles now too, reminiscing. “She has her mama’s green eyes and Abraham’s full lips and kinky curls. And her skin, it’s this gorgeous color, like caramel, and—”
“Mom!” I snap, hoping to get her focus back. I vaguely remember Abe’s kid—a cute girl with big eyes and wild hair—but I don’t want to hear about her right now. “What are you talking about? Who did what?”
“It didn’t start out that way. Or … I guess it did. But he made it sound right.”
Her head shakes back and forth lazily. “I don’t deserve to be chief, but it was one heck of a carrot. Better than the stick. Abe … he got the stick. He couldn’t be bought. He was just in the wrong place, at the wrong time. Because of me.”
“You’re not making sense.”
Her jaw sets, and her eyes fix on a point behind my head. “What I let happen … I may as well have pulled the trigger.” She barely has the cigarette lit when she mashes it into the pile of ashes. “I sold my soul is what I did, and there ain’t no coming back from that.”
“’Course I should have known he’d be waiting like a wily fox in the thicket to use it against me.”
“Just remember I meant to do good. And he promised me he didn’t know her age. He promised he’d never do it again.” She snorts. “I need you to know, Abe was a good man.” A tear slips down her cheek, and her gaze locks on mine. “I tried to make it right. But I couldn’t face her. After all this time, I couldn’t face what I’d done to her. I’m a coward. Not a chief. A coward.”
A shiver runs down my back. “Who are you talking about, Mom?”
She shakes her head lazily. “She must hate her daddy. She don’t know any better. But I need her to know. Tell Gracie he was a good man. You’ll do that, right?”
I’m speechless, trying to decipher the meaning behind her jumbled words. “Mom … what are you trying to tell me?” It sounds a hell of a lot like a confession. But for what?
She opens her mouth to speak, but nothing comes out as she stares at me, her blue eyes—the same cornflower shade as mine—cast with a haunted shadow. I wait for her to explain herself.
Finally she flicks her lighter, letting the tiny flame dance for a moment before pulling her thumb away to extinguish it. “Go on to bed, and let sleeping dogs lie. They’re less likely to bite.” She chuckles. “He always liked that saying, every time I pushed him, every time I told him they were up to no good.”
As if I could sleep after this. “Mom …”
“You remember Hal Fulcher?”
“Make sure you pay him a visit. Don’t wait too long. They don’t have much time.”
“Go and grab that shower.” She finishes the first glass of water, then chugs the second. I’m not going to get any coherent answers from her tonight. This conversation will have to continue in the morning, though I can’t imagine how to start it.
I lean down to place a kiss on her forehead, and she reaches up, her palm cupping my stubbled jaw in an affectionate gesture. “I love you so much. Always remember that.”
“Love you, too. And if you’re not in bed by the time I’m done, I’ll throw you over my shoulder.” She knows it’s not an idle threat. I’ve done it before.
She responds with hollow laughter, then turns up the dial on the police radio, her eyes beginning to shutter. Another five minutes and she’ll be passed out, right there on the table.
The dispatcher’s voice doesn’t quite muffle her heavy sigh. “You’re gonna be fine.”
I peel off my clothes and throw them in a corner. I’ll deal with them later. Just like I’ll deal with the scruff covering my jaw. Or not. We’re going to Rainey Street tomorrow night for drinks and Jenson’s girlfriend is bringing her friend Dana, the one I hooked up with last week. I forgot to shave then, too, and she seemed to like it.
I simply stand under the hot stream of water for a moment, letting it rivulet over my skin, hoping it’ll melt away the unease that’s settled onto my shoulders. Mom was acting different tonight. Almost … crazy. The fact that she brought up Abe has thrown me for a loop. She took his death hard. That’s when she started really drinking the first time.
And what the hell was all that talk of carrots and sticks and selling her soul?
I inhale the spicy scent of my shampoo as I scrub away at my scalp. F***ing dramatic drunken rambling. I can’t imagine what my mother thinks she’s guilty of. She’s a highly decorated police chief. She’s well respected in the community. She’s smart and funny. When she’s not drunk.
She’s my mom.
The blast of a gunshot tears through the house.
Well, lets just start by saying that if you read the excerpt above and still aren’t convinced to pick Keep Her Safe up, then what is wrong with you?!?!
Ha…Just kidding…kind of…
Seriously though. Go ahead and pick this one up and read it…I’ll wait…
Suffice it to say that K.A. Tucker’s streak of not letting me down continues. Keep Her Safe was another great foray into suspense and intrigue and she was well up for the challenge.
I’m going to be honest and admit that I don’t love romantic suspense on Tucker as much as I love her other books. Until it Fades, Ten Tiny Breaths and Chasing River among my favorites.
That said…all the great things about how she writes romance are present in Keep Her Safe:
- Great well fleshed out characters that one can really sink into
- Intense personal struggles both past and present
- Slow building romance – no instant love here
- The mix of Fate and Choice – how much of each plays a part is up to the reader to decide
Add to that some of Tucker’s best new tricks:
- Twisty mystery that lets one play along but still keeps one guessing
- Unusual and unexpected connections
- Some really dark intense storytelling
- A realistic ending that ties enough of the loose ends up but also leaves a bit up to the readers’ imagination
Have I convinced you yet?
Also by K.A. Tucker
Ten Tiny Breaths series:
Burying Water series: