Never Tell by Selena Montgomery (aka Stacey Abrams)
Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin's Press, and Libro.fm for the electronic and audiobook copies of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 2.5 stars
Genre: Thriller Romance
Representation: Black woman (Black love?)
Content Warnings: Physical, Mental, Emotional Abuse, Psychological Manipulation, Grooming, Sexual Assault, Murder, Torture.
"Criminal psychologist Dr. Erin Abbott wants nothing more than to live a quiet life. That means no danger, no intrigue—and absolutely no romance. But when Erin suspects a serial killer is roaming New Orleans, her investigation throws her straight into the arms of the only man who can help her.
Journalist Gabriel Moss is hot to find his next huge story—and he knows Erin is on to something big. From the moment they meet, Gabriel senses that Erin is hiding something. One thing is certain: Erin's boxy suits and sensible shoes hide a delicate beauty waiting to emerge...and Gabriel is just the man to reveal the woman inside.
As they join forces to find the killer, Gabriel slowly seduces Erin with his soft kisses. But Erin knows their love can never be. For she is hiding a terrible secret—and if Gabriel reveals the truth, Erin's life will be shattered forever..." - Macmillan Website
Never Tell was, unfortunately, not my cup of tea. The first edition of this book was released in 2004, but I wasn't aware of that until I was reaching the end of the story. Now, I look back and can tell that the editor(s) likely didn't change much because there are scenes and exchanges in this book that wouldn't really fly today. There are also a lot of descriptions that refer to Erin's "silky" hair which makes sense for 2004 because Black women were expected to wear their hair straight during that time. Now, the natural hair movement has blown up!
I liked the concept of an academic tracking down a serial killer but was disturbed that there were no content warnings about abuse and grooming. These were huge parts of the story and Erin's drive for investigating this serial killer! If the book had focused on this plot, I would have enjoyed it more. However, this was also a romance. Despite the numerous descriptions of Erin and Gabriel's supposed chemistry, I wasn't feeling it. They didn't seem believable to me because Gabriel came across as predatory or aggressive to me in his pursuit of Erin. This left me confused as to how the two could form any romantic attachment, let alone trust. I'm pretty disappointed about this book.
For those looking for a thriller by Stacey Abrams that was more satisfying, in my opinion, look into While Justice Sleeps. It's a bit slow at first but it's clever and becomes gripping.