Hidden in a Small Town by Stacy M Wray ~ Sarah A’s Review

She’s being attacked, losing her footing as she falls to the dusty ground littered with pine needles. Scurrying like a crab, she attempts to stand and then… nothing.

A cold sweat trickles down Slater Montgomery’s spine as he struggles to control his breathing. It’s been years since he’s felt them – years since he’s seen them. The visions which nearly destroyed his childhood. Back then, ignorance and getting high were his allies, providing a false sense of security. Now? He can’t get her out of his head. The girl with the wild curls and fear-riddled eyes – the girl of his dreams.

Except, Slater knows this is no dream. It’s too real, too raw. The details, her emotion… before he can convince himself not to, Slater finds himself packing a bag and leaving his picturesque Wyoming home in search of the woman haunting his every waking moment. He just needs to see her once, just to be certain she’s safe. Just to be sure he’s not losing his mind.

What Slater imagined to be impossible – actually finding the mysterious woman – proves to be just the beginning. As secrets are exposed, Slater finds himself trapped in a web darker than he ever could have imagined. One which he’s not quite sure either of them will survive.

It started as a vision. A dream-like scene flashing through his mind. The ending?

A nightmare.

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I read thrillers, and I read romance; I read tons of books that are both, in fact, romantic thrillers are my favorite subgenre.  Hidden in a Small Town definitely qualifies more as a thriller than a romance, though there is a romantic vein running throughout it.  Some parts of the book were absolutely fabulous, while there were some places where it just fell short for me.

I struggled with how Nora was depicted on page and how she seemed to see herself.  While we did only know her in the worst part of her life, I felt like the way she was written was in contrast to the way we were supposed to see her.  She talked about how tough and sassy she was, even Slater mentioned her strength, but she felt shy, mousy, maybe even a little insecure.  I loved her as she was; I thought her actions despite her meekness, made her feel stronger than the words written about her strength.  Her concern for Slater and his involvement, even her desire to care for the vilest of human beings, showed her compassion, which she had in spades.  Her growth from the mysterious woman in Slater’s head to the empowered woman we see in the final chapters was fabulous.

Slater is still somewhat of a question mark for me.  Beyond his need to unravel the mystery of his visions, I had little idea of what drove him as a person.  His need to protect and care for Nora was wonderful, admirable even, but his single-minded pursuit of her safety seemed to curtail any chance he had for a growth arc of his own.  Hidden in a Small Town was Nora’s story, though, so it wasn’t something I noticed I was missing until I was finished reading and realized I had a thousand questions left about him.

The plot of Hidden in a Small Town was compelling.  It moved with enough speed to keep my interest piqued while still leaving enough time to develop each moment fully and make me invested in the resolution of Nora’s story (and root for Nora and Slater to find their happily ever after).  Parts of this story were so completely unexpected, while others were much more formulaic.  The mix of both lent to an interesting feeling of complacency and unsettledness.  I very much enjoyed the ride I was taken on in Hidden in a Small Town.

I do have a few wishes for this book.  First, in the beginning chapters, I felt like there was a lot of extraneous information, stuff that didn’t add to the story and never came into play later.  I prefer my books to be streamlined and devoid of ‘fluff’ so I would love if some of that had been cut.  Second, there were several places in the book where something seemingly impossible, but very convenient, happened with little to no explanation.  I’m well aware this is fiction, and some suspension of belief is par for the course, but I need a little more than ‘oops, we have no idea what happened’ to satiate me.  Finally, there was one chapter written by a third POV; I think it was a disservice to the story.  It ruined the climax of the story for me and didn’t enhance the story in any way.

Hidden in a Small Town is a standalone, suspense novel.  It is written in three parts, from dual first-person perspective, narrated by Nora and Slater.

Stacy M. Wray is a new to me author.  I was fairly impressed with her writing, though there was a green-ness to her work.  I am quite sure with some practice and continued refinement, she will prove herself to be an excellent writer.

Stacy M Wray loves writing and reading anything romance – Judy Blume was one of the first authors she read in middle school. After all, a world without love, heartache, and angst would prove a boring place to live.

Lover of gray and white cats, craver of all things sweet, enthusiast of hiking and camping, wife of an extremely supportive husband, and mom to two amusing adult children, she realizes life is pretty damn good.

She also appreciates that it’s never too late to try something new. Never.

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