By Beth Yarnall
Cora: I got my driver’s license on my sixteenth birthday so I could visit my brother in prison. Five and a half years later, he’s still locked up for a murder he didn’t commit and I’m still trying to find a way to set him free. Then I hear about Nash Security and Investigation, a private detective agency that helped exonerate a wrongfully convicted man after thirty-nine years in prison. The problem? They’ve already taken on the one pro-bono case they’ll accept this year.
Leo: I’m this close to finishing law school—and never working another day at my dad’s P.I. office—when Cora Hollis walks through the door. She’s got a box of files, a handful of leads, and an independent streak a mile wide. She fascinates me and I can’t say no. Suddenly I’m volunteering to help her find a missing witness who could be the key to her brother’s case. But nothing is what it seems and giving in to the attraction between us could be more dangerous than finding the real murderer.
Cora knows her brother, Beau, did not brutally murder his high-school sweetheart when he was eighteen. But the jury (and everyone else) thinks he did and sent him to prison for life, with no possibility of parole. Now Beau is twenty-three and is a far cry from the fun-loving teen he used to be. He’s resigned to spending his life in prison and insists Cora forget about him and his case and just move on with her life. Unsure of her next move, Cora hears about a PI firm that recently proved the innocence of a man sent to jail nearly four decades ago. With her own box of case files, she walks into their office offering to work for them for free if they agree to investigate her brother’s case. There she meets the PI’s son, Leo, who hates working at his father’s firm but helps out on cases during his summer breaks. He’s initally drawn to her looks, but after hearing her emotional plea, he truly wants to help and agrees to take on all the legwork if his father takes this case.
Leo: I’m a pale imitation of my father. She knows it and I know it. What she doesn’t know is that I’ll work my ass off for her.
Cora is determination personified. While fighting for her brother, she’s lost family and friends, even her parents. She doesn’t date. She doesn’t go to school. Her entire life is about her brother’s case and proving him innocent. Leo is a young man focused on three things: college; getting away from his father’s PI firm; and girls. Lots of girls. But that changes when he meets Cora and she quickly becomes very important to him. He wants to make her smile and he wants to win this case for her. Simply put, he wants to be her hero.
VINDICATE was a great read and a real whodunit right until the end. I read this book in one sitting, staying up way past midnight just to finish it. The story is told in dual POVs with the epilogue being told in Beau’s POV, which was short, sweet and a perfect way to end the book. I can’t wait to read his story in ATONE. This is one of those stories where the romance sort of takes a back seat, where solving the case is what keeps you turning the pages. From memory, apart from getting to third base, there’s no sex in this book. But as I said, there’s a mystery to be solved, danger to avoid, a man to prove himself worthy, and the occasional funny scene thrown in.
Leo: “Holy shit. That could’ve been us.”
Cora: “I know. You saved us.”
Leo: “Focus on that and not the part where I blacked out like a wuss.”
Vindicate (Recovered Innocence # 1)
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