I’ve always loved romantic suspense novels, but over the last few years many of the ones I’ve read have seemed clichéd in theme, plot and characterization. The Right Combination, by Crimson Romance author Nancy Loyan, however, was a breath of fresh air with its unique premise, richly drawn characters, and plot twists that had me guessing until its fast-paced conclusion.
FBI Special Agent Raphael Costillo is a man who’s used to having his personal and professional life uncomplicated and compartmentalized. He’s at the top of his game as the FBI’s top expert on safes and vaults. Being one of the best in the business, he’d grown up in the world of safes and “safemen” with his father, owner of Costillo Safe and Lock in Little Havana. When three legendary safe crackers are murdered and stuffed into safes over the course of three months, Rafe is called in to lead the investigation to apprehend an obvious serial killer. For him, this case just hits too close to home!
Nalani Hana lives in Hawaii, far away from the US mainland. She relishes a simple home life in her secluded cottage off the Hana Highway in Maui and prides herself on carrying on her father’s legacy in the safe business at the N. Hana Safe & Lock Company. She has spent several months traveling the country interviewing legendary safe and vault technicians in the business for a book she’s writing and is devastated to learn that her idols are being systematically murdered following her interviews with them.
Rafe and Nalani’s paths cross when she tops his list as a possible suspect, but their bonding is immediate. Once considering himself a confirmed playboy, Rafe didn’t believe he needed anything more, including acceptance of his own heritage, until he met Nalani. Being with her on a professional, personal and sexual level made him realize what his life had been lacking. On the other hand, Nalani’s perspective on her own life changes from that of a social recluse, comfortable in her own skin, to a woman who doesn’t just want a man but needs THIS man.
This transformation of the lead characters and the whodunit question kept me roped in and interested in this tale of romance and murder. Nancy Loyan’s technical knowledge of safes and the safe-cracking industry adds unobtrusive realism to the details of the story. Her writing style is polished and smooth. This book is a definite winner. I’m a new Nancy Loyan fan!
-Reviewed by Angela