My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Quinn and Maddy are teetering on the edge of a relationship, but will it fall in to something meaningful after all they've been through together or fall apart when they face their next challenge? When they find themselves in the sights of a serial killer, the relationship status comes secondary to their main focus. Survival.
As for character development, Maddy and Quinn feel like they actually mature a little through the story which is really nice, but there are some aspects of each that had me scratching my head a bit. The most obvious when after a huge struggle with trusting God, it feels really strange that Quinn would so easily be able to just jump back into his faith simply because Maddy asked him to. The romance was decent, but felt lacking if only because the male character lacked, well, masculinity. Their kiss is just too weird... "HE released a soft sigh", really?
Great premise for the story! I love the trapped and hunted concept. I found myself getting pulled in to the plot, talking less time to note the nuances that normally get under my skin.
Moving Target did a great job of engaging me in the story and keeping my attention, making it a really good suspense, but it just failed to measure up in the romance category.
Eason does a great job of scene descriptions. Especially when Maddy and Quinn are on the island, you can create a map in your head of exactly what the area and structures look like. Secondary characters are very flat in this book, so the relational setting between characters is somewhat lacking, but it doesn't detract from the story.
As the third book in the Elite Guardians Series, you have enough of a backstory that the dynamic between Quinn and Maddie finally feels like an actual relationship, so when the author slips into token awkwardly deep conversations at a moment's notice, it doesn't feel quite as forced as it normally does. The flow of conversation is much better than the previous two books in the series, but could still use some improvement.
The funny thing is, I think the author simply uses too many words. Over explaining things that shouldn't be have to be explained (including one scary-vivid suicide scene), making the reader feel as if we're being spoon-fed, but then rushing deep dialogue with no natural lead-ins.
The spiritual aspects of this book were good, pretty straight forward, and basically amount to not being able to trust God because he let you down in the past. Quinn refusing to open up because of a painful history that he blames himself for and Maddy leaving a life at the FBI behind because of a betrayal give both characters a valid background, but only Maddy seems to be able to really work through things. Quinn seems to end up okay, but it doesn't really feel like a natural progression.
One thing I absolutely love about romance novels is the butterfly effect. No, not the one where there's a hurricane due to a chain of events, but the goosebumps and flutters that you get at the building of a romance. I could seriously live with that feeling 24/7 and want for nothing more. The funny thing is, that there's always an 'after'. The gravity shifts and lightheaded-ness won't recur in an infinite loop.
I may have mentioned that I met my husband when I was 8 and he was 11, and we finally figured out how cool the other was a year after I had graduated high school and promptly began a relationship. I remember thinking on our 5 year wedding anniversary, probably smugly, "they all said that the honeymoon phase wouldn't last forever, but they were so wrong." Shockingly, 'they' were right! The honeymoon phase waned after another year or so. I didn't automatically light up when he came into a room anymore. Shortly after realizing this, fortunately, we got to take a trip to Paris together. My husband had already been when he was in Jr. high and really had no desire to go back, except that he wanted me to get to experience the fulfillment of one of my dreams. Paris was definitely on my bucket list.
What I discovered during that trip was how cool my husband was. It's funny how we can forget just how fascinated we were with our spouse early in the relationship when we are living out the day to day with them. Since that discovery, I decided that I want to make an effort to always find new ways that my husband fascinates me, thus maintaining a semi-permanent second honeymoon phase (but I'm willing to have a third and fourth if necessary 😉 ). I once heard some wise marriage speaker say something to the effect of: "when you were friends, that was elementary school, dating was high school, engagement was college, etc. You want to end life with multiple PhDs in the study of your spouse." I love that way of looking at it.
Wishing you luck in your studies!