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Publisher: Acorn Publishing (2020)
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Overland by Ramcy Diek mashes genres with a deft hand, combining romance with mystery/suspense/thriller successfully and with surprising results. As the story begins, we meet Skyla, a tough, independent woman. She learns very quickly that she is not immune to harm. In the span of a few seconds, Skyla finds herself in mortal danger.

It only took one kiss to distract Skyla. Troy, who is not her boyfriend, is equally distracted by the kiss he initiated. Neither notices the man stalking her – until it’s too late. Troy blames himself for Skyla’s abduction and works overtime to help find the woman he loves, even if she is dating another man.

Author, Ramcy Diek, sets her novel in the Portland, Oregon area, crossing into Washington state to add another twist for us to mull over as we try to solve the crime that puts our protagonist, Skyla, in a remote place with little chance of escape.

The villain, Bjorn Rikkerson, is a brutal man, abducting and imprisoning our heroine – and much worse. Add three innocent children to the mix, and the complexity of the plot increases in tension and sympathy. Will Skyla survive? Will Troy find her in time?

Meanwhile, Skyla’s parents and Troy work with the police, contact local papers and TV stations, and worry about Skyla. Everyone is desperate for clues. When Edmond, the real boyfriend, arrives on the scene, readers will measure him against Troy to ascertain the better man.

Skyla’s father, Harold, hires Kim Lowe, a private detective, to put another set of eyes on the evidence and to have someone reporting to him about the case. Kim Lowe tries to work with Police Captain MacMillan, who is assigned to the case. Together they wrestle for authority and race to find Skyla as they follow clues that lead to dead ends, and some that don’t lead anywhere. Their rivalry provides tension and twists as they search for Skyla.

Diek does an excellent job of developing Rikkerson’s children as real kids, not just props in the story. They cry they rebel; they argue, sulk, and talk back. They get sick, beaten, go hungry, and grow to love Skyla, who treats them like the mother they lost. All the while, Skyla wracks her brain, trying to figure out who Rikkerson is and why he wants her.

The author provides a caveat to fans of her previous books that this one has graphic violence and is a step removed from her usual romance themes. Readers should take that to heart, but they shouldn’t be put off by it. This book is a page-turner that will keep fans on the edge of their seats, wondering if Skyla will survive her ordeal or live the rest of her life in a little cabin in the woods.

With its nail-biting tension and satisfying denouement, the grand finale will thrill fans old and new alike. Ramcy Diek brings us home in a jagged, emotional mess that sorts itself out as best it can in an imperfect world.

An excellent read and one we highly recommend.