Tuesday, April 11, 2017

REVIEW: CHESAPEAKE VALOR 1: COLD SHOT ~ DANI PETTREY

Cold Shot by Dani Pettrey is the first book in the Chesapeake Valor series.  Each book in the series will be loosely connected to the others and feature many of the same characters, but will function well as standalone stories.  While it is not necessary to read all of the books or to read them in order, enjoyment of the series will obviously be enhanced by reading all of the books in order.
 

 
Cold Shot follows the story of former sniper turned park ranger Griffin McCray who uncovers a fresh grave during a routine patrol.  What initially seems to be a relatively routine investigation turns deadly when forensic anthropologist Finley Scott discovers evidence pointing to the work of an expert sniper.  With Finley refusing to back down from investigating the case, Griffin has no choice but to work with the interesting woman whom he has studiously worked to avoid for several months, along with his childhood friends, FBI agent Declan Grey and crime scene analyst, Parker Mitchell. 

 
 
When their persistent digging places Finley in the crosshairs of the deadly sniper, Griffin must finally admit his attraction to her and the fact that he has avoided her because he doesn't believe  himself ready for the kind of relationship a woman like Finley deserves.  Along with everything else on Griffin's plate, the tension between him and Parker places the entire team on edge.  Finley learns that the trio, who were once inseparable, drifted apart following the disappearance of their friend, and a mysterious traumatic event in their past which Griffin and Parker refuse to discuss.  The reason for this rift is another mystery the reader must work to solve. 

Along with finding the killer, Griffin must face his past, confront his demons and come to terms with a few hard truths to not only protect the woman he can no longer deny he loves, but to feel worthy of her.  Unbeknownst to Griffin, the "perfect" Finley is fighting demons of her own when their case places her life in danger, reminiscent of a previous case that left her with scars she desperately tries to hide from her new friends.  What exactly happened to Finley also remains a mystery through a large part of the story, adding to the list of mysteries which must be solved.  

It may not be fair to compare an author's newest works to its predecessors, but let's be honest; we all do it.  While the quality of Dani Pettrey's work remains top notch, I found that I did not enjoy Cold Shot nearly as much as I did the Alaskan Courage series, each book having had me on the edge of my seat throughout.  Those were well-researched, had great suspense, character depth and growth and tangible chemistry.  This was not the case with Cold Shot. I just did not connect with Griffin and Finley, or their story, to the extent that I was invested in the outcome, or ever feared for their safety at any one point.  I was way more invested in the few moments we got to share with Parker and Avery (who feature as the main characters in the second Chesapeake Valor book, Still Life; review to follow in due course).  Both Griffin and Finley are likable, intriguing characters, but for me they just did not have the chemistry I have come to expect from Pettrey and I found it hard to get emotionally invested in their story.  While Finley is opened interested in Griffin from the get-go, the bigger part of the story sees Griffin fighting his attraction to Finley and shooting her down.  At times I also found myself thinking that Finley does not have enough scenes and that she does not feel like a main character.  Instead of utilizing the potential a smart and brave female character such as Finley presented, her skills were ultimately not essential to the investigation, and she became a sidekick to Griffin's hero, sadly only serving as a damsel in distress for him to protect. I would say Cold Shot is about 80% mystery, 20% romance, and I personally prefer my mystery-to-romance-ratio way more balanced. 

I do love the way Pettrey portrayed both Griffin and Finley as devout Christians who each have a deep, meaningful relationship with God.  The religion aspect of the book was perfectly balanced, very much present but not too overbearing to be off-putting to readers who might be non-believers.  I loved all of the prayers both Griffin and Finley prayed; those were beautifully written.

All in all Cold Shot is by no means a disappointing read, but I cannot deny that it fell short of my expectations.  I am, however, very much looking forward to reading Parker and Avery's story and I will be picking up Still Life shortly.

 
 Product Information:
Title: Cold Shot
Series: Chesapeake Valor (Standalone)
Author: Dani Pettrey
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Year: 2016
Pages: 338
ISBN-10: 0764211978
ISBN-13: 978-0764211973
ASIN: B012H0ZYAQ

 
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