Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Deadly Envy in a Science Lab, in Cara Putman's LETHAL INTENT

What happens when you blend a legal issue with a cancer lab, terribly ill children, and faith-based romance? Answer: a suspense novel with intriguing layers of complexity, from long-time "romantic legal thriller" author Cara Putman, published by Thomas Nelson.

When attorney Caroline Bragg steps into a high-pressure job at a biotechnology firm developing cells that may fight children's cancer, she's got two huge things going for her: experience in the patent process and government regulations, and an abiding inner joy that has a lot to do with how Brandon Lancaster is telling her he wants her in his life always.

Her first challenge in the new job is to assert herself: Petite and not grounded in the science itself, she could be easily mistaken for a beginner. When the scientists try to rush into treatment without the proper protocols, though, she puts on the brakes -- and suddenly she's not as welcome as five minutes before, since the people around her really want to save children, not wait for the approved channels.

Making things more complicated in LETHAL INTENT, there's more going on under the surface of the biotech company, and the author slowly gives a reveal of a malicious but unidentified person willing to sacrifice those very children, for revenge on the company. Caroline's so busy trying to keep her ambitious boss on the legal straight and narrow that she's late in realizing there's more than accidental mischief happening.

Strikingly, she's also pinned by nondisclosure requirements, once she realizes her boyfriend is an investor in the company she's working for. Here's a sample of Putman's romantic writing from Caroline's point of view about Brandon:

Caroline pulled up the pictures and scrolled through several shots. She'd have a closer look later, but she liked what she saw: a man who looked at her with adoration. She could get used to it and wanted to bottle the moment so she could pull it out when she felt alone.

When te nights were dark and she couldn't sleep.

She wanted to remember what it felt like to have his hand covering hers.

Remember the feeling of security and lent strength.

Remember that he found her worth loving.

LETHAL INTENT will suit romance readers more than standard mystery fans, since although Caroline is strong and makes great decisions, she really has little chance to figure out what's going wrong in the treatment trials and the company's action, because Putman frames the book with a secret villain's voice and little in the way of outright clues. Still, it's a good read for a winter evening, sweet and strong at once, and very smoothly written.

PS: Looking for more mystery reviews, from cozy to very dark? Browse the Kingdom Books mysteries review blog here.