The only thing Navy underwater archaeologist Undine Gray fears more than facing former SEAL Luke Sevick is never scuba diving again. But when a dive on a Cold War-era US Navy submarine ends with an accidental explosion, she’s terrified of going into the deep, forcing her to beg the most experienced diver she knows to take her back to the bottom of the cold Salish Sea.
Luke wants nothing to do with the woman who destroyed his career a dozen years ago but finds it impossible to turn his back on her plea. Caught off-guard by an attraction he doesn’t want to feel, he’s eager to be done with this mission of mercy. But when they dive on the wreck, he only gets sucked in deeper. Someone has been digging on the Navy sub…and it appears the explosion that almost killed Undine was no accident.
To find the truth, Undine must navigate murky waters and the unexpectedly hot undercurrents swirling between her and Luke. Worse, divers are searching for something lost in US waters during the Cold War, and they’ll do anything to keep Luke and Undine from finding it first.
Undine Gray is a Nautical archaeologist working for the Underwater Archaeology Branch (UAB) at the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) in Washington D.C. Her father is the renowned Marine biologist, Stefan Gray. He has his own research institute and Undine grew up there. She was an expert at a very young age on Marine Biology but due to her lifestyle, she was very lonely. That all changed when Luke Sevick arrived. Luke was living his dream being on scholarship at The Institute. Due to some unfortunate miscues, Luke is forced to leave The Institute and Undine behind.
Fast forward 12 years later. Undine is working on a deep dive to investigate a submarine that went missing during the Cuban Missile Crisis. A number of things go wrong and Undine becomes the only survivor or her crew. She has to make an emergency ascent without time to decompress. Luke, former SEAL and now a Marine biologist and assigned to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Commissioned Officer Corps, is in the area and observes the disaster but also sees a diver in trouble. Pulling Undine from the water and staying with her in the hyperbolic chamber, he realizes he still holds a grudge but can’t help the attraction he feels.
That’s a very brief overview of the story with the exception of several attempts to prevent Undine diving on the wreck of the USS Wrasse.
What I liked: Cold Evidence is the 6th book in Ms Grant’s Evidence series. I love romantic suspense especially when it’s done correctly. Well, correctly would be based on the reader’s expectations and when it comes to romantic suspense, I have high expectations.
I have a pretty standard routine. I usually am in bed by 10:30 at the latest but two nights in a row I stayed up reading Cold Evidence. I couldn’t find a good spot to stop. The action does not end until the very last page. Then there’s the attraction and angst between Undine and Luke. Not only the attraction but the tension in the exchanges between them. That’s another good point, the conversations between Undine and Luke are extremely well written. The by play, while full of tension and innuendos, flows easily and in some cases had me chuckling at the quick repartee between them.
And the sex…..yeah, hot. Let me just say, Undine and Luke appreciate each other’s attributes and while not wanting to get emotionally involved, aren’t afraid to indulge themselves in their desires.
I also enjoyed catching up with the previous heroines in the Evidence series. Each female lead is connected in some way to the core group. The heroines are smart, snarky in some cases, funny, and very confident in themselves.
The suspense in Cold Evidence is what kept me up at night. Ms Grant is not afraid to give answers early in the book but from that point on, you can’t figure out where the mystery and suspense is going. Believe me, while I did figure out the most obvious clues, she kept surprising me with each little reveal. There are very few authors who can fool me completely but Ms Grant is one of them. And that’s why I keep waiting for each release to gobble it up.
What I didn’t like: It might be my age or it just could be the demand by other readers today, but I do enjoy my romantic suspense with a bit less sex. Yes, I said that. I thrive on the suspense and tension part more than the sex scenes but that is just my preference.
For full disclosure….I was recently picked to be on Ms Grant’s early review team. I was provided an eARC to read and review with an honest opinion, which I just gave you. I wouldn’t have volunteered for the team if I didn’t enjoy her books and in addition, have no problem voicing my likes and dislikes.
One last thing about Ms Grant’s writing. Her research shows through each book like a beacon. I’ve learned more about archeology and marine archeology than I could say. While the basis for Cold Evidence is fiction, you can see the time spent in research to make the book as factual as possible in all other aspects.
(As usual, while Cold Evidence could be read as a standalone, why not start at the beginning with Concrete Evidence?)