Publisher: Bella Books
Sometimes an author steps out of the box and writes a book that is different from her others. This can be stimulating to creativity, but fans of the author may not appreciate what she does. They’ve come to expect a certain type of book and they find something else disconcerting. Gerri Hill did not follow her usual formula for Keepers of the Cave and there have been readers who have panned the book for that reason. Different isn’t always bad though. Give it a chance before passing judgment.
When a senator’s daughter disappears near Hoganville, Texas, FBI agents CJ Johnston and Paige Riley are assigned to go undercover to see if there is any connection between that case and others going back over fifty years. CJ and Paige go to work at a correctional school near the town on what appears at first to be a useless mission. It takes on a new dimension when they realize that the people in the town are just plain creepy. They appear to be dominated in a cultish manner by the matriarch of the town, Mother Hogan, who is determined to block whatever the agents are trying to do. As they poke around and make friends with a townswoman who teaches at the school, two things develop. A sense of foreboding develops about the case and the women have to deal with a growing attraction between them. Eventually they find themselves in a death race against an element that is the key to everything.
This may be one of the best books Gerri Hill has written. It tells a fully comprehendible, if bizarre, story while making the readers think at the same time. The characters are fully drawn and complex. The secondary characters are the ones that provide the real meat of the book. Mother Hogan, as despicable as she is, is also fascinating as a study in extremism and of someone who will do whatever is necessary to achieve her ends. The complete obedience shown to her by the rest of the town sets the unique atmosphere of the book. CJ and Paige provide the romance in the book and the introduction to Hoganville, but they are pretty standard characters. They are obviously there to satisfy Hill’s romance readers. It’s the rest of the book that is an unusual type of story for Hill, which is probably why some of her usual readers have reacted poorly to it.
The writing in Keepers of the Cave is tight and well-paced. There is a supernatural aspect to the story that could be expanded or at least better explained, but this is a page turner. The story stays interesting from beginning to end and a reader can’t ask for much better than that. If you’re looking for a regular Gerri Hill romance, this isn’t it. Hill may be trying her hand at something new. If that’s true, she should be encouraged. Any writer should be applauded for expanding her abilities, especially if she does a good job of it. In this case, Hill did.
Give Keepers of the Cave a chance. If you approach it knowing what to expect, you shouldn’t be disappointed.