Still Life by Dani Pettrey is the second book in the Chesapeake Valor series. Each book in the series will be loosely connected to the others in that it will feature the same group of characters and an independent, but will function well as standalone stories in that each book will have different main characters. While it is not necessary to read all of the books or to read them in order, enjoyment of the series will obviously be enhanced by reading all of the books in order.
Still Life takes place a few months after the conclusion of Cold Shot. Parker Mitchell’s assistant, Avery Tate, has resigned her position with him as she has accepted both the fact that she loves him, and that he still loves Jenna, his deceased first love, and she finds being close to him every day, bearing the burden of her supposed unrequited love too difficult to bear. When Avery’s childhood friend, Skylar, goes missing and Avery suspects foul play, she however has no option but to turn to the best crime scene analyst she knows and Avery and Parker’s paths cross again. With Avery back in his daily life and the void she had left behind once again filled, Parker can no longer deny his feelings for her; but where does that leave his devotion to Jenna? Can he still honour her memory if he allows himself to love another?
To Avery’s horror her hunch soon proves correct and Skylar turns up dead. In order to find answers, Avery must navigate the life she had left behind, exposing her dreaded past to the man she most wants to impress. Facing the ugly truths and painful memories of her past forces Avery to confront her demons once and for all, and she must expose her deepest hurts and greatest regrets to Parker if she hopes to have a future with him. As the team begins to investigate Skylar’s murder, Avery and Parker’s mutual attraction becomes the least of their worries when it seems Skylar’s killer has set his sights on Avery.
My review of Cold Shot made it clear that I found Parker and Avery to be a much more interesting pair than Griffin and Finley, and Still Life did not disappoint. Where Cold Shot made Finley a sidekick, Avery is very much an integral part of the investigative team. As opposed to Finley and Griffin in the first book, Avery and Parker spend the majority of the book together as they face all obstacles as a team.
With the murder investigation on the forefront, the book also takes the time to delve into Avery’s insecurities stemming from a past she is struggling to make peace with, as well as Parker’s struggle to move on from loving and losing Jenna. Both issues are beautifully explored and the character development for both Avery and Parker is realistic and satisfying.
As with Cold Shot, the religious elements in Still Life add to the story without being overwhelming, sure to satisfy believers, yet not exasperate non-believers.
I very much enjoyed Still Life, and will certainly continue the series with both Blind Spot (Declan and Tanner’s story), and Dead Drift (Luke and Kate’s story). Declan and Tanner uncovered a terrorist plot in Still Life, and I believe this story will develop even further in Blind Spot, and perhaps even in Dead Drift as the long lost Luke finally proves to be alive as Kate has always believed, and comes home to face the ones he left behind. When Kate learns he disappeared and left her behind voluntarily to become a secret operative, will she finally let him go, or will he give her a reason to hold on?
Title: Still Life
Series: Chesapeake Valor (Standalone)
Author: Dani Pettrey
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers