Book Club: Heart Breaker

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Author: Shannon Curtis
ISBN: 9781489220394
RRP: $29.99

Heart Breaker is a gripping suspense novel with a touch of angst and a smattering of steam. There is an element of ill-advised romance but the main focus is a suspenseful murder investigation.

Harmony Talbot returns from a business trip to discover her cousin, and best friend, murdered in their home. This is the second time there has been a murder in her family and Harmony is determined that this one will not be left unsolved, her family couldn’t survive that pain again.

The cousins were close, they’d been living together since moving out of home, and it helped them both to cope with their widowed mothers. Leona was the caretaker of the family, she looked out for everyone and now that she’s gone Harmony isn’t sure how to look out for everyone and make sure that this time justice is done. Her mother is still haunted by the unsolved murder of the past and she makes Harmony promise that they will catch the killer – whatever the cost.

Harmony has a very special skill set as a digital forensic investigator and it’s a skill set she is prepared to use to help with the investigation, even if sometimes that means working outside the law to do so.

Bern Knight is the homicide detective on the case and he is good at his job, he had to be to make sure everyone forgot the stain on his reputation. He wants to make sure they get the killer, and he tries to promise Harmony they will but she has been through it all before and resents the platitudes.

The lead characters have both been burned by the force in the past and are still working to get over the scars of that which makes them interesting characters to get to know. Following the progression of their interactions is captivating; from the very first time they meet there is chemistry but they both know that it is something they shouldn’t act upon.

It is the murder investigation that is truly gripping. Curtis explores the challenges faced when the killer leaves behind no evidence, the clean up is thorough and the trail is simply a series of dead ends. The police only start to make progress when anonymous tips start arriving, then the discovery of more bodies that fit the same pattern also help.

I was fascinated by the killer, I wanted to get inside his head and understand why. It was clear from the outset that there was a lot going on behind those eyes because there was a very clear methodology and I wanted to understand it.

So many elements of this story grabbed my attention and Curtis weaves them all together brilliantly. It took me a lot longer to read the book than I would have expected but only because I have been finding it hard to sit down and read, given the opportunity I would have devoured this one in a sitting.

The digital forensics were actually quite frightening. The ease with which trackers can be embedded and a digital footprint can be followed. We all know the importance of online security but Curtis explores how easy it can be to get around that. How certain can you ever be of someone you communicate with digitally? The answer should scare you, it sure scared me; not necessarily for me but for my children.

Heart Breaker is a gripping psychological thriller that I loved. It explores the characters intimately and allows us to get to know how the past has affected our characters and why they are behaving as they are in these circumstances. Tense, disturbing and completely fascinating this book will satisfy fans across genres.

Heart Breaker is book #21 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2017.

Shannon Curtis can be found on Facebook, Twitter and her Website.

Heart Breaker is published by Harlequin and is available now through Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

Thanks to Harlequin 20 of our Beauty and Lace club members will be reading and reviewing Heart Breaker so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below.

21 thoughts on “Book Club: Heart Breaker

  1. “Heart Breaker” is a well written, absorbing romantic suspense novel. Unfortunately it has a couple of plot holes that nagged me; however, this didn’t stop it being an extremely enjoyable novel.

    Harmony Talbot is deeply traumatised when she discovers the murdered body of her cousin and housemate. This isn’t the first time tragedy has struck her family, and the last occasion left her with little confidence in the police. Harmony feels compelled to use her skills as a digital forensic investigator to try to find the killer.

    The detective leading the investigation into her cousin’s murder is Bern Knight, dedicated, effective – and devastatingly handsome. The attraction between the two of them complicates both Bern’s official investigation and Harmony’s unofficial investigation.

    The plot holes that nagged at me were largely around technical things. The killer does not usually wipe the data from his victim’s devices, but when disturbed by Harmony, he has time to find her cousin’s phone, ipad, and laptop, break into them, and wipe them, before escaping. It’s also not clear what this achieves; most of that information would be recoverable from her service providers (email, Facebook etc) with a warrant. At a later stage, Harmony places a lure which will bring the killer somewhere to use the wifi – but he’d have to be somewhere with access to wifi to see the lure. Why would he move?

    The biggest plot hole, however, was this: when Harmony realises her cousin’s devices have been wiped, she also realises that she has an illegal backup that she made a few days before. This sets a series of obstacles for the investigation, and for Harmony’s relationship with Bern, as she feels unable to admit she has this data.

    But it’s not illegal to download your own data – in fact, backing up is a sensible recommendation. So why not just tell the police that your schoolteacher cousin asked you, her technically skilled cousin and housemate, to do her backups? Who would gainsay that, under the circumstances? This feels like a very contrived problem that could have been solved so easily.

    Regardless of these problems, however, I found the novel very absorbing. Curtis writes well, and is convincing in both the romantic strand and the serial killer strand of the plot. I completely believed in the romance, and the attraction between Bern and Harmony. The serial killer aspects were also credibly constructed. Curtis has chosen to go easy on the gore, which fits well with the strong romantic strand of the novel. Too much focus on the horrific aspects of the murders would have made the novel feel unbalanced.

    There are enough loose ends here to suggest Curtis might have a sequel in mind. She ties up the main plot-lines well, but some of the subplots are left unresolved. Many readers would welcome a return to these characters; they’re strong and engaging, and I’d certainly pick up another book featuring them.

    In the suspense/ thriller genre, this falls at the “lighter read” end of the spectrum, but it’s a good solid read with a lot to recommend it. Despite the annoying plot holes, I thoroughly enjoyed this.

  2. Well here is another salute to a great Australian author, Shannon Curtis, with her book ‘Heart Breaker’. A big thank you to Beauty & Lace and publishers Harlequin for supplying another fabulous novel.

    Well hold onto your hat and wait for the ride of your life. What a great, fantastic read. Now that was a thriller worth every minute of reading time. I couldn’t put it down.

    Harmony Talbot, a digital forensic investigator working for a private firm, returns home from a work seminar to find her cousin, Leona murdered and stuffed into the boot of her car. So begins the rollercoaster ride of excitement, suspense and ever gathering of facts to find this brutal mass murderer. Harmony is left the sole emotional support for her mother and aunty after this second tragic murder in her family, her father being murdered when Harmony was 14 years old.

    We learn about the complicated and strained relationship she holds with her mother Elizabeth and are introduced to the growing connection Harmony and Police Detective Bern Knight develop as they search for the killer of her cousin. The Police hit a dead end with no evidence to go on and Harmony takes it upon herself to illegally hack into Police records and begin her own search for information to track down this killer. Harmony is torn between upholding a promise to her mother to find the killer and knowing she is breaking the law and risking her own life by exposing herself to the killer.

    This is a ever developing, quick moving, uttering enthralling read. A mystery at every turn with some downright sexy love scenes to satisfy the girls. There is a lot of IT jargon mentioned and even if the reader is unfamiliar with this terminology, it doesn’t take anything away from enjoying this book. The author presents very thorough characters throughout the whole book, the murderer particularly portrayed with great detail and fascinating intrigue.

    It gets a big thumbs up from me. You’d be hard to please if you didn’t thoroughly enjoy this one.

  3. Heart Breaker is a thrilling and unpredictable read that delivers us disturbing murders and gruesomely displayed antics of a serial killer .

    This is by far the most suspenseful read I’ve read in a long time I spent the entire time reading enthralled at the cleverness of the authors insight into forensic cyber dealings and the information put forth in regards to the ins and outs of the investigating behind murders .

    It’s truly a roller coaster ride . Heartbreak , past regrets , suspense , romance , intrigue , family and and unpredictable read that will have you on the edge of your seat till the very last page.

    Lots of great characters penned within the pages . Strong , sassy and kick ass heroine . A sexy detective and an array of wonderfully scripted secondary characters .

    Family was also an important role within the story , hope , past traumas and standing as a team and loving unconditionally .

    I enjoyed the romance and steamy sex scenes 🙂 so for those who like smouldering connections you’ll be pleasantly sated lol

    Harmony and Bern found something they never bargained for among a dark road , it certainly brought some light in the turmoil .

    The murders are gruesome, dark and twisted .. as the story unravels so does the beginning of the saga . We find out why …. who … and are given closure on all aspects .

    The author certainly keeps you on your toes from beginning to end .

    The author balanced the romance and suspense giving us a well scripted plot .

    My first read from this author and it won’t be my last .

    A twisted killer
    A sassy cyber whizz
    And a hell bent detective …

    A thrilling read from beginning to end .

  4. From the first chapter for this storyline I was hooked on a character that seemed to be very endearing but you just knew that something was going to go awry with her character and it was here I felt like jumping into the page to warn her.

    Once you read the first chapter of this thrilling book, you already know that there is a psychopathic killer lurking in the shadows.

    The author has certainly captured this novel as heart stopping, suspenseful, gripping, creepy and leaving me with trepidation as I continued reading.

    We meet the main characters of Harmony and Bern and of course you know there is going to be some attraction with them. There are other characters in the storyline that you will like also.

    I do love captivating storylines with a twist of steamy romance engaging characters. This book certainly was a page turner for me. I just couldn’t put the book down because I was on the edge of my seat and wanted to know who the killer was and why he was doing the killing.

    Though a thrilling, gripping murder story, I wasn’t prepared for the tears that I would feel in reading this novel. There are no definite boring bits in this story either. Sometimes in these storylines I can lose the plot but Shannon has kept the pages moving.

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story and will certainly be looking out for more of Shannon’s books.

    Thank you to Beauty & Lace and Harlequin Mira for introducing me to yet another unknown Australian author. This story shows us that Shannon Curtis certainly researches what she writes in her novels.

  5. I have had the pleasure of reading Heart Breaker it is very good. It is about a murder of a family member which has rocked their world. Harmony is wanting to find the killer to give her family peace.

  6. Heart Breaker by Shannon Curtis is a fast paced with murder, mystery, romance and a look inside the terrifying mind of a murderer.
    A digital forensic investigator returns home after a weekend away to discover the brutally murdered body of her cousin. She makes a promise to her family to bring the murderer to justice at whatever cost.
    The Homicide Detective incharge of the Investigation struggles with his growing attraction to the victims cousin.
    They both are caught up in the race to catch the killer before he strikes again.
    A great read that I thoroughly enjoyed and I passed the second copy I received from the Publishers onto a friend and also my copy has been paid forward to another friend to read and review.

  7. I was lucky enough to be chosen to read and review Heart Breaker written by Australian author Shannon Curtis.

    I would describe it as a psychological thriller, with a hint of romance thrown in for good measure, which centres around a murder investigation and the events that unfold from there.

    It will have you gripped (quite literally I think I was gripping the book tight at times, screaming to the character in my head of something bad is going to happen!), suspense lingers around each page turn and it really draws you in. I liked the aspect of the digital mixed with conventional crime investigations, and thought there were some really good writing in this book and enough detail for me to understand what’s going on without it being way too technical.

    Harmony comes home to discover a murder scene – how horrific and utterly terrifying were my first thoughts. She was quite a good character, someone who I felt connected to which made her much more likeable.

    Bern is the detective assigned to the murder case, and you get that hint of something might just happen with these two characters after a while! It also helps that Harmony already has some sleuthing skills of her own to add to the story, I liked that as well, gave her more of a storyline of her own.

    It all gathered pace well to the conclusion, as you were racing to find out the ending. I thoroughly enjoyed Heart Breaker, and will be sure to put Shannon Curtis on my list of authors I’d love to read more books from!

    Thanks Beauty and Lace, and Harlequin for the opportunity to read this thrilling book.

  8. Wow this is one of those books that literally once you have started to read it, you wont want to put it down, and for me, that is okay, as I am resting after an accident, and some 19 stitches in my arm out…This is a gripping story, and it makes me wonder now….. with this new hacker on the loose this last few days, and demanding money from people….. how easy is it to get into peoples computer and see and read what is there. I dont know that there is a great lot more I can write here, as the people that also got this book, and probably long before it arrived in w.a. for me, have written quite a lot.. I have a son who is in IT but he never discusses anything about the computer with me, his mum, probably horify me. The story is very absorbing, and to read that the cousin had done a back up piece as well is unusual, but that in itself might prompt more people to do that on their own computers. The story is very engrossing with all the murders, but each one is laid out as the one before, and it makes one wonder why and how. read on my friends and you will be able to find out the how and why of the story like I have just done.. There must have been a lot of thought put into it by the person who wrote it, and you would need to have a good list to work from to be able to put all the graphic detail into each and every one.. thanks for the chance to read it.

  9. I enjoyed the story Heart Breaker, did not put the book down once I started until I finished it. The story involves a woman, Harmony, who arrives home to find her cousin dead in their home. Harmony”s occupation is a digital forensic investigator, and as the story unfolds we learn the killer has been finding his victims online, so Harmony becomes involved in her own investigation as well as the police. She also becomes involved with Ben, the policeman handling the investigation. Lots of twists and turns in the story, and a warning as to how the internet can be dangerous to the unwary.

  10. This is a vibrant read, the first with this author.
    It is a crime romance , I guess you would call it.
    The crimes are quite brutal and the psychopath is viscous and repulsive in his acts.
    I did scan through the ‘sex scenes’ but I was happy the main characters had them as I did want them to enjoy themselves and be a happy!
    The pacing was tight, the ending satisfying , I liked all the characters ( except that dastardly one) and I am interested to read another Knight Family murder.
    A good read. Congratulations to the author Shannon Curtis and her team.
    Review: Kai Lexx

  11. What a fantastic book murder with some romance on the side!
    This book flows easily and keeps you hooked you can’t wait to find out what happens next! The horrific murder of her cousin and house mate set this story in action the handsome police officer add some spice. An intriguing story you will love I recommend it to everyone

  12. Heart Breaker is a suspenseful story about a serial killer with some serious psychological issues. It’s a book that will grip you as you want to know how things will end.

    This novel is predominantly centred on the story of Harmony Talbot, a digital forensic investigator who is thrown into a tailspin after her cousin Leona is brutally murdered. Talbot was no stranger to both the police and murder investigations because her father had been killed in a bloody manner some years prior and that case went unsolved.

    When she notices that the police are moving slowly on the case, Talbot decides to turn into a vigilante and don a detective hat to see if she can discover the identity of the killer herself. But this work involves some clever problem-solving and putting herself in some dangerous circumstances that have been described in great detail by author Shannon Curtis. Along the way Harmony also embarks on a steamy, forbidden romance with a sexy homicide detective named Bern Knight.

    Heart Breaker is ultimately a complex, psychological thriller that will leave you hanging on the edge of your seat.

  13. Heart Breaker the psychological thriller / suspense romance novel by Shannon Curtis had me instantly drawn. Not a dull moment, full of gritty suspense and steamy romance. While I normally would read either a romance or psychological thriller I haven’t read many other books that combine the two genres.

    Harmony, a digital forensic investigator, who lives with her cousin Leona, comes home early from a work trip to the gruesome discovery that Leona has been murdered. The detective responsible for the case Bern, is intrigued not only by the investigation but in Harmony. Individually the two use their skills to bring justice to the family.

    I found Harmony to be very stoic throughout the investigation. Instead of grieving like you would expect she was more focused on finding answers and meeting the need of her demanding mother. I did find it a little strange that parents of Leona and Harmony who are referred to as the ‘elders’ seemed to lacked emotion and involvement in their daughters/nieces case. As the story unfolds you do learn potentially why this is. Or maybe it wasn’t a lack of empathy but just how Curtis chose to focus on Harmony’s journey?

    As the story deepens you piece the events that haunt several of the main character’s past and how it shapes their current actions. I liked that the story switched between perspectives from the victim’s family to the perpetrator.

    Though I enjoyed this style of novel I did find it a tad disturbing and confronting at times. This made for a very interesting read!

    I am keen to read more of Curtis’s books being this is the first I have read. I am more than happy to recommend this novel to others as well. Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Harlequin Mira for this opportunity.

  14. I enjoyed Heart Breaker, I did not put the book down until I had finished it. Murder, mystery, romance, twists and turns. A reminder of how people can be preyed upon over the internet. Good read

  15. Heart Breaker by Shannon Curtis is the best book I have read for a while. The fact that the killer’s identity is given to us as little snippets at a time just makes you want to keep on reading to find out what makes this person motivated to kill. As it also has a budding romance involved between one of the victims cousins and the lead detective also keeps the interest going.
    Harmony arrives home early from a conference to discover her dead cousins body with a single white rose – this is the killers calling card. Unfortunately for Harmony’s family this is the second death in her close knit family and she will do anything to help catch the killer. Her father was previously murdered and the killer was never found. Harmony this time is going to make sure that justice is done for her family and will use her skills as a digital forensic investigator to catch a killer at all costs.
    The homicide detective assigned to the case – Bern Knight – good at catching criminals and with the ‘misguided’ help of Harmony pulls out all stops to bring him in especially when 8 other bodies are discovered in a scrap yard.
    A constant page turner that had me burning the midnight oil.

  16. Heart Breaker by Shannon Curtis is a novel filled with mystery and suspense with a touch of romance.
    I would highly recommend this novel especially with the weather getting colder and we seem to have more time to curl up with a gripping read.
    It did actually take me awhile to get into this novel but once I settled into it I was engrossed in the storyline.
    Harmony is our lead character who discovers her dead cousin Leona upon returning home .This is the second unsolved murder in her family , her father being murdered previously with the killer never being found.
    She is determined that this time the family will get justice.
    A good read , with many twists and turns.
    Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Harlequin for the opportunity to read and review this great novel.

  17. Heart Breaker by Shannon Curtis’s novel has a story line unlike those that I usually read. I found the story line easy to read and found the characters were easy to identify with. Never having this type of tragedy in my life I found I felt for the characters having to deal with such a tragedy. The story was based around the murder of a young woman in terrible circumstances that led the family on a roller coaster of emotions with many twist and turns that has the reader engrossed till the end. A good murder mystery with just enough twist and in depth investigations that made the story worth the late nights.

    If you love a good mystery then this is the book for you.

    Thank you for choosing me to review this book

  18. Thank you Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to review this book, Heartbreaker by Australian author Shannon Curtis.

    The book is a great suspense novel revolving around Harmony Talbot who is a digital forensic investigator. Harmony is unfortunate enough to find her cousin Leona and housemate murdered.

    Unfortunately this is not the first tragedy to bestow the family, Harmony’s dad was murdered when she was 14 years old. The detective leading the investigation on the case is Bern Knight and it soon becomes apparent that there is an attraction between Harmony and Bern.

    We also find out that Harmony has a complicated relationship with her mother Elizabeth. When the police have no evidence on the case Harmony uses her skills by illegally hacking into the Police records to help find the killer.

    This book had many things from romance, suspense and family complications. I highly recommend this book and I especially love reading books by Australian authors.

  19. Loved , loved ,loved Heart Breaker !! Shannon Curtis is a great storyteller and had me hooked from the first page. This book highlighted how easy it is for social media to be used for evil, and how frightening it can be .. although I am aware of it, Heart Breaker shows the dark side of the technology that we use every day. I liked the characters, Bern sounds delicious … I hope Shannon writes more stories with Bern and Harmony.
    Recommend to all crime readers.

  20. “Heartbreaker” by Shannon Curtis is a well written, suspenseful novel which keeps the reader wanting to turn pages to see what happens next.

    I found the novel immediately engaging and the technical processes were written in a manner that was not daunting to the non-technological reader. I loved that the book was set in Australia and that the characters were flawed, making the story that much more relatable. An earlier reviewer commented on the plot holes but when I was reading it, I accepted those holes as mistakes people make when they are in difficult, stressful situations.

    I hadn’t heard of Shannon Curtis prior to reading this book however look forward to reading more from her.

  21. Thoroughly enjoyed Heartbreaker. A mix of crime and steamy romance, it has everything you need for a good reads and found it very hard to put down.
    Harmony is devastated after coming home and finding her much loved best friend and cousin Leona has been murdered. This is the second murder to affect her family with her father murdered when she was a teenager.
    She stops at nothing to find the killer and as she investigates herself, alongside a detective named Bern, an attraction develops and this is where the romance comes in.
    The killer leaves no visible traces except a single white rose and then anonymous tip offs start happening. More bodies are found and similarities are starting to be put together..
    It just gets better and better as you get into the story. I highly recommend this read and would love to read more books from Shannon Curtis.

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