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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Before the Storm

ISBN: 9780990639046

Series: Rarity Cove #1

Publisher: Left Field Press

Publication Date: 10/20/2015

Format: e-book

My Rating: 5 Stars

​A woman hiding from a dark past

Six years earlier, Trina Grissom disappeared, on the run for her life. Now living under an assumed identity—as Samantha Marsh—she still struggles with the dark secret she harbors and the fear she might one day be found. When she moves to the coastal town of Rarity Cove, South Carolina, to open a café, a handsome widower begins to chip away at the walls she’s built to protect herself.

Mark St. Clair lost his wife two years ago in a tragic accident. Head of the grand St. Clair resort, he distracts himself from his lingering grief by running the family business and caring for his troubled young daughter...until a beautiful restaurateur sets up shop in town. Before meeting Samantha, Mark was convinced he could never be drawn to another woman. But as his attraction to Samantha grows, the mystery surrounding her deepens.

As the two begin a hesitant courtship, double perils emerge. Someone from Samantha’s lurid past comes calling, threatening to expose her. And a powerful hurricane is forming in the Atlantic with the small beach town in its path. Trapped in the storm by the brutal man who wants vengeance on Samantha, she and Mark must fight for their lives.

My Review

A special thank you to Barclay Publicity and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Love the Cover!

Talented Leslie Tentler returns following her smashing, Fallen, landing on my Top 30 Book List of 2014, with a riveting new series, (Rarity Cove #1), set in a small southern coastal resort town on the outskirts of Charleston, SC -- BEFORE THE STORM.

A solid drama, from deep human emotions, mystery, danger, crime, and romantic suspense rolled into page –turner, as the past rears its ugly head at the most inopportune time.

Meet the characters:

Samantha Marsh, keeps to her herself, a natural beauty, moving to the small coastal town of Rarity Cove, SC to open a café. She is ready for a fresh start and her life seems to finally be back on track. Her life dream is finally coming true as she escapes a horrific past. She has changed her looks, her body, and her identity. Now Ms. Marsha is the woman with the” to die for cupcakes”-- and now her landlord, has found more than her cupcakes quite intriguing. However, she cannot have a normal relationship. She has to continue to look over her shoulder, as she senses someone is following her.

Six years later, Café Bella is a booming and Sam is a successful business woman. No one knows her real story and she wants to keep it that way. She is mysterious. She has put all she has into her new café and keeps her distance, living in a small apartment over the café, not getting to close to anyone. She lives in fear every day, of her past coming to find her. (Tentler keeps you in suspense as to her dark secret, which is peeled back layer by layer for an ongoing mystery which goes much deeper). Can she pass up on a future love affair, due to her fear which holds her back? She cannot put Mark’s family in danger.

Mark St. Clair does not care about dating –his goal is to bury himself in his work as the driving force behind the century old Hotel Grand St. Clair Resort, the family business, and the premier vacation destination on the Atlantic seacoast some forty minutes outside of Charleston. He is still grieving his late wife of two years. Top on his list of worries is his five-year-old troubled young daughter, Emily--who has not spoken since his wife was killed in a car accident.

Mark’s mother, Olivia the family matriarch is the typical Southern society snob---(Dorothea Benton Frank fans will relate); if you know Charleston—you will understand; wanting Mark to date again, and sticks her nose in his business trying to fix him up with the Southern’s finest—white pearls and "Bless Your Heart" type. Mixing with the most elite and country club set, she does not care for Mark’s newfound friendship, and strong attraction to the new woman in town. She is determined to find out more about her background, and a more suitable companion. Only the best for her son.

Carter - Mark’s brother, a soap opera star is accustomed to having his way with all the women; with his fake airbrushed looks and charm. He and his brother are rivals from years past, both dating Mark’s former wife. Now Carter is back in town for a movie shoot and meddling in Mark’s affairs. Will he once again try to hit on Mark’s new woman?

Then of course there is Mercer, Mark’s sister who has her own private relationship with older professor, Jonathan.

Luther, one of my favorite characters, has been in prison with a past of his own. He works for Samantha. He was honest about his past, and Samantha knows all too well about second chances and dark pasts. She gives him a second chance working her at her café in town. Olivia, Mark’s mother turns her nose up at his kind, thinking he is a trouble maker. Of course, when there is trouble, everyone looks at him. However, he might just be the one to help this crew out of danger, as a devastating tropical storm approaches. Hint: Could we please bring back Luther for his own story?

We also have more than one villain, with some scores to settle. Devin Leary is a slime ball and he will stop at nothing to find what he is after. There is someone more dangerous than on the surface--a bigger more evil plan of stolen jewels, the Maffia, a cliff, a Cadillac Escalade, money, a brother, pictures of a past life, a motel, and worse, a devastating storm approaching.

A multi-layered story as piece by piece, Sam’s story is exposed. She never wants Mark to learn of her sordid past. Carter starts digging and is the one to investigate into a world of corruption and old scores which need settling, and revenge. Everyone is going in different directions trying to keep their own secrets, and all the while there is a dangerous man in Memphis, Tennessee who is out to find the one who got away, and the stolen jewels.

Most of my fellow reader friends are aware, I am not a romantic chick lit fan. I typically go for crime, legal, and mystery thrillers; however, I will read contemporary romantic suspense (meaning not the romantic fantasy type); the emotional tragedy, mixed with crime, danger, and mystery, which is a nice combination. Ordinary people enduring hardships; overcoming, adversary, coming out even stronger with some humor mixed in. Before the Storm, fits the category, perfectly.

I fell in love with Fallen, when introduced to the Atlanta author last year. Being an Atlanta girl myself, growing up in the Carolinas and working for many resorts and hotels (some in Charleston), I loved the setting, the resort, the café and the culinary parts …. (Perfect subject material for me)….And the well-developed characters. I enjoyed Samantha and Mark’s relationship, as two different strong people from different walks of life. Sam’s past was such a vast contrast from her present life, and Leslie does an amazing job flushing out each one.

For me, BEFORE THE STORM is a cross between Nicholas Sparks, Kristin Hannah, Sandra Brown, and Patti Callahan Henry (I know --a range; however, fans of all these will enjoy the mix). I read Spark’s new See Me directly following Before the Storm, and fans will enjoy the strong dynamics of both; characters are determined to survive their past as they attempt to build a new life, and stronger forces continue to pull them down in the mud.

Both authors use strong emotional human dynamics, tragedy, suspense, mystery, and thriller sprinkled with complex love relationships ----a character driven book. Sparks and Tentler both know how to build a love story, surrounding by layers of mystery and suspense. I think fans will enjoy the last portion, with the intensity and danger as things begin to explode, with a few surprises you do not see coming.

What I enjoy about Leslie’s style is her writing is fresh, and contemporary; each of her books deliver something new and different, making her books appeal to a wide audience. Before the Storm is a book you will want to read in one sitting, so set aside the time and curl up for an engaging mystery. I could not put it down until I reached the end.

I am looking forward to the follow up with #2 -- dying to know which character will be featured next!

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​No Matter How Far You Run . . . The Past Will Find You

Leslie Tentler is back with another story of romance and suspense…this time in a small Southern beach town called Rarity Cove. What happens when a woman on the run has her dangerous secrets finally catch up with her? Find out in Before the Storm by Leslie Tentler…Add BEFORE THE STORM to your TBR pile on Goodreads!

On Sale in Digital and Print: October 20, 2015

Award-Winning Author of Romantic Suspense

About the Author

Leslie is a native of Kingsport, Tennessee. Growing up, she was an avid reader, first of Nancy Drew novels and then surreptitiously devouring her mother’s historical romances at probably too young an age. As she got older, her reading interests moved to contemporary romantic thrillers, which she writes today. Midnight Caller, the first book in the Chasing Evil trilogy, was honored as a finalist in the 2012 International Thriller Awards at ThrillerFest for Best First Novel. Edge of Midnight, the final book in the trilogy, was a finalist in the 2013 Daphne du Maurier Awards for Excellence in Mystery and Suspense. Leslie is a member of Romance Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, The Authors Guild and Novelists, Inc. She lives in Atlanta with her husband, Robert, two cats and their dog, Tori.

  • Finalist, ThrillerFest 2012 for Best First Novel

  • Winner, 2012 National Forward Literature Awards

  • Finalist, 2013 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense

  • Finalist, 2015 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense

Check out other books from Leslie!


By: Leslie Tentler ISBN: 9780990639015 Publisher: Left Field Press Publication Date: 10/14/2014 Format: e-book My Rating: 5 Stars






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