Fresh Meat: Virtue Falls by Christina Dodd

Virtue Falls by Christina Dodd is a standalone romantic suspense featuring a geologist, an FBI agent, and a long-buried secret that comes to light during an earthquake (available September 9, 2014).

If you like the television show Bones, this book is right up your alley. Elizabeth Banner, the heroine, is a geologist whose father—Charles Banner, himself a world-famous geologist—allegedly murdered her mother when Elizabeth was only four. Elizabeth has walled herself off, preferring rocks to people. And much like Bones, she is not understood by “normal” people, who see her scientific mind and her focus on inanimate objects as distinctly peculiar.

The walls groaned. Nails popped out of the Sheetrock. Behind Elizabeth, one by one, the windows exploded. Shards of safety glass sprayed the diner.

Elizabeth’s excitement rose.

At least an eight on the Richter scale. Maybe an eight-point-five. Not the biggest earthquake ever … but it wasn’t diminishing. It wasn’t done.

There was a rhythm to the earth surges coming onto the coast, an increasing and glorious roll.

Behind the counter, the shelves tilted; the drinking glasses crashed backward, then forward and off, heaving themselves onto the floor like Disney-animated crockery. The coffee pot jumped off the heater and committed suicide, splashing hot liquid into the air. Sympathetic porcelain mugs followed.

Elizabeth was in awe; the floor was rippling, two feet up and then two feet down. She had read about earthquakes so violent, of course she had. But never had she thought she would have the luck to experience one.

Because, yeah, “luck” is how most of us think of experiencing major earthquakes…and the tsunamis that follow them.

But anyway, the giant earthquake and subsequent tsunami unearth a body, which turns out to be the body of Elizabeth’s mother. This uncovers a load of questions that were never answered before her father was convicted. And her father, suffering from Alzheimer’s, cannot answer them.

Where Bones has Booth, Elizabeth has her ex-husband, Garik, an FBI agent who is currently on leave and suffering his own demons. Their wedding was an unlikely spontaneous act for Elizabeth, who feels he never listened to her. Which he admits he did not. But there are parts of their relationship he cannot forget, either:

His pleasure in the moment slipped … Damn, but he missed that woman. He hadn’t understood her. The stuff she cared about! Stuff like rocks and quakes and volcanoes. Stuff that bored him silly, and when he tried to get her interested in what was important, like crime and passion and violence, she’d pointed out that people change, come and go, but the earth was forever. She had always been so calm, so logical … so remote.

Except in bed. My God, he’d never met a woman like that, who hid a fiery passion beneath a cool, inquiring, scientific mind. He wished … well, he wished a lot of things, most of them to do with Elizabeth, and all of them impossible now.

Of course, this is romance as well as suspense, so those impossibilities are not quite so impossible. Especially when the ghosts of Elizabeth’s past come back to haunt her, and someone is determined to be sure she never finds the answers she is looking for.

Suspects abound in the small town of Virtue Falls, which seems incredibly inaptly named—the doctor, the cop, the diner owner…no one is exactly what they seem and while not all their secrets are malicious, nor are any of the characters here presented as straightforward.

So if you’re looking for a cool-headed, hyper-logical scientist heroine matched with a hot-headed, impulsive FBI hero and placed in a cauldron of seething secrets and history, Virtue Falls is the place for you.

Enjoy our exclusive audio excerpt of Christina Dodd's Virtue Falls!

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Laura K. Curtis lives in Westchester, NY, with her husband and two madcap Irish Terriers who’ve taught her how easily love can co-exist with the desire to kill. She can also be found at Women of Mystery and on Twitter.


  1. Deborah Lacy

    This sounds really good. Thank you for a great review!

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