Cover Image: Untamed Shore

Untamed Shore

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Member Reviews

I really like Moreno-Garcia's integration of setting into this narrative. The desert and the shark fishing grounds are very present throughout. Her characters are very vivid, and the plot is nicely paced. I really enjoyed the internal monologue of Viridiana as she navigates her small, conservative town and the young tourists that complicate her life. The action picks up at a page-turning pace, and I was surprised by the ending (in a positive way!).
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I read the authors book Gods of Jade and Shadow and thoroughly loved her fantasy novel. Thought why not give her suspenseful thriller a try. Untamed Shore is more character driven noir than thriller. Do not get me wrong there are some definite twists and turns I did not see coming but on the flip side there were some slow moments especially the first part of the book. Untamed Shores is described as a thriller I was hoping to be grabbed in the first few pages or chapters. I think if I went in knowing it was a noir read in the vain of The Nice Guys, I would have gone in expecting something totally different and maybe would have not kept putting the book down. I am glad I stuck with it though the author does have a way of evoking such feelings from her characters and her writing is beautiful.  I loved our main character Viridinia I love how her character grew throughout the story. 

Overall Untamed Shore falls under the classic noir novels and less of todays modern thrillers that I think readers will enjoy a change of pace.
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"You can kill anything if you have enough willpower. Just don't lose your mettle, because the shark always knows. If you weaken, if you falter for a second, it'll strike back."

Boy, what a book this was. When I read the GoodReads synopsis, then the one in NetGalley before hitting request button, I did not expect this experience. Yes, it was a crime thriller but only 30% of it was a crime thriller. It had murders, gang bosses, con artists, cops, and even money matters. But 70% of the book was a coming-of-age story.

The book begins with 18yo Viridiana, a small town girl who more than anything yearns to escape her dreary and drab small town and a bleak future of being married to a husband she'll never loves and bawling kids who'll never give her peace of mind. She's seen the housewives in town (including her mom) and she wants nothing to do with a married life like those. She wants to fall in love deeply with a man who will whisk her away from this town forever and into a city full of excitement and life and promises.

Oh how the book changes her by the end.

"Men could leave. Her father had left. But a woman couldn't leave. Especially if she had a kid. A woman was chained."

Her life changes one summer when three American tourists come to spend holidays at the town. A middle aged man with a trophy wife and her unemployed but handsome brother. Viridiana soon finds herself entangled in their secret, treacherous lives that force her to go through painful and shameful experiences, as well as experiences that peels off her naïve morality and propels her into a chasm of deception and lies. To get out of the web of lies, she must weave her own web as well.

"If there was something she had learned, it was that in order to deceive you should speak the truth."

Overall, this book is more of a coming-of-age story of Viridiana, a small town girl learning and unlearning what it takes to survive deceitful but charming people and save her own skin. The shark symbolism is really well thought out. If you are looking for a meaningful crime drama, not a shallow one full of bang bang, this is the one for you.

Thank you, NetGalley and Agora Books, for providing me with an eARC for my honest opinion.
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I have a new book review to share with you today. Please note: I received a digital ARC of this book (via NetGalley) from its publisher in exchange for an honest and fair review. 

Untamed Shore by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a slow burn crime noir tale. Lets start with the cover. I love sharks so the shark outline with the wave imagery in the body immediately grabbed my attention. The black and white color scheme and blurred effect gives it a retro feel. 

Untamed Shore is the story of Viridiana, a young woman in 1979 Baja Mexico who works as a translator during tourist season. Three wealthy Americans show up and hire her for the summer. Viridiana sees this as the perfect opportunity to escape the boredom of her everyday life, and she is enamored by what she perceives as a glamorous life. But when one of the three Americans dies under suspicious circumstances, she is quickly caught up in a game of manipulation. Her naivety keeps her is a constant struggle to choose between her heart and her conscious and she finds herself in a real mess. There were times that I wanted to yell at her in frustration.  

Untamed Shore is an extremely well written character driven story. The world building is detailed and descriptive. You can really imagine the hard gritty lifestyle of this 1970's town. Though, I cannot express enough, that this is a SLOW burn. There is not a lot of action like Silvia Moreno-Garcia's other books. The ending is satisfying but it takes a while to get there. 

If you are a fan of slow burning noir crime dramas then go read this book! This gem published by Agora Books is available for purchase from all major booksellers. I give Untamed Shore 3 1/2 out of 5 gems. I cannot wait to read more stories by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, she is a fantastic author!
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“Sharks haven’t changed in millions of years. They know how to survive better than we do.”
The book begins by introducing you to a small town in Baja California named Desengaño, its shark hunting history and Viridiana’s place within it. The first couple of chapters introduce you to all the expectations placed upon her by everyone in her life. From her mother, her step father, to the mother of her ex boyfriend, everyone seems to have had an expectation for her to fill for them. It also the lack of expectations from her father who saved himself from the town where nothing happens, packed his bags and headed back to Mexico City and his occasional gifts.

Viridiana spends most of her time translating for the slow trickle of tourists that come to town, taking care of her siblings and studying with an old friend of her fathers, Reynier, who serves as a sort of surrogate father. With him, she perfects her English, Dutch and French and lets him practice his Spanish. This ability to study language comes to service when tourists come to town.

The three newcomers need someone who speaks and writes English, as the oldest of them tries to dictate a novel, Viridiana is recommended for the job through Reynier. Upon meeting them, she becomes enraptured by the beauty and novelty of these three strangers and accepts the job, despite the impropriety that being a live-in with strangers cause around town.

Viridiana quickly finds herself in the middle of a crime, a tangle or lies and no one to turn to for help. Her town begins to gossip about her and her nature of work, which even her own family believes. Left on her own, Viridiana has to rely on her own wits to find her way out of her predicament.

“But she was an extra in this film. They were the protagonists.”
This story captivated me in from its visuals to its quotes about sharks and their nature to the strangers and the front they present. There were times were small things were predictable but they were set up in a way where you knew it was coming. The slow pacing just lends to the lay back nature of Desengaño. I enjoyed watching every single thought that went through Viridiana’s head as she tried to figure out exactly what was happening and what she could do to find her way out.

Overall I would call this more of a coming of age with some criminal aspects to it more than a thriller persay, but it does not take away from the wonderful ride this story takes you on. The pacing is just right for me, it isn’t too fast nor too slow. And that ending!  I will not spoil the ending as I would like everyone to experience this for themselves. But just know that Viridiana was right about sharks.
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If you venture into this book expecting a high-stakes, fast-paced thriller, you will inevitably be disappointed. This is not a mystery; there is no whodunit, no hunting clues to track down the killer, no chases or escapes. Untamed Shore is instead a languid, character-driven coming-of-age tale, a sort of literary noir set against the atmospheric background of 1970s small-town Baja California.

And what a background it is. Moreno-Garcia has always had a way of bringing settings and locales to life. Her prose is exquisite: rich and dense and layered. The mood she evokes is thick and oppressive, heady with tension. I could feel the heat coming off the desert. I could smell the rotting shark carcasses. I could feel Viridiana's tension and boredom, her desperate desire for escape. There is a certain creeping dread to it all, an eeriness to this small seaside prison.

The narrative traces the development of Viridiana's arc, from clever but sheltered girl to clever and ruthless young woman. It is done slowly and carefully and subtly. The culmination of Viridiana's arc is what pushed me to give this book 5 stars; when I first started I was convinced this was a 3-star read. By 60% I knew it would be 4 stars. But by that explosive, absolutely baller ending? I knew this was 5 stars for sure. Viridiana is the star of this novel; she shines above the other characters and even the plot, which was very slow to start and never really found its feet. Because this novel isn't about plot; it's about Viridiana coming into her own and achieving her goals, no matter what it takes.
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I received an eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

After reading and loving Gods of Jade and Shadow, I was absolutely thrilled when I found out that Silvia Moreno-Garcia has a few upcoming releases. After receiving a copy of Untamed Shore, I was very excited to delve into the novel. 

Untamed Shore follows an inexperienced, naive eighteen year old woman named Viridiana who feels trapped in her small town of Desengaño in Baja California. She must deal with her insufferable community and the expectations it puts upon her: working in her mother’s shop, marriage, having children. However, Viridiana wants more. She longs to leave for a bigger city where she can choose a life she wants for herself. She distracts herself with literature, Hollywood films, dreams of romance, and watching fishermen hunt sharks at the beach.

Viridiana’s seemingly boring life is interrupted when she is offered a job by three tourists: Ambrose, his wife Daisy, and Daisy’s brother Gregory. Working as a personal assistant and translator for these people offers Viridiana a chance to escape. However, things take a dark turn when one of the tourists dies. What comes next marks a drastic character change for Viridiana: she lies for her friends. Readers are then thrown into a web of deceit with many plot twists that I personally did not see coming. I loved seeing the change in Viridiana once she embarks on a path of self-preservation. Despite knowing the characters might be making bad choices, you cannot help but root for some of them. Viridiana is no exception to this; readers may identify with her longing to create a new life for herself far away from a town that wants to crush her dreams. 

Untamed Shore does not disappoint. I battled between wanting to read it all at once and wanting it to last forever. This book is a very character driven story, which I love. My experience with Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s work was limited to Gods of Jade and Shadow prior to this, so I was not sure what I would think about her tackling the thriller genre. In both cases, the writing is captivating and beautiful. In the end, all I can say is that I truly loved this novel! 

*Content warning: There are instances of violence and domestic abuse.*

Thank you to the publisher, Polis Books, and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read and review this novel before its release.
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When I saw that Silvia Moreno-Garcia was coming out with a noir mystery novel, I immediately knew I was going to have to check it out. Everything I have read by Moreno-Garcia has never failed to disappoint me and Untamed Shore was no different! The characters that she is able to create in her stories are such a wonderful blend of realism while simultaneously always giving me the feeling that something else is going on under the surface with them. Her novels are very character-driven and always manage to pull me in, even if there isn’t much action happening. 

Untamed Shore is a slow burn mystery following a girl named Viridiana in her hometown of Baja California, Mexico. Viridiana is a bit of a dreamer, having spent her whole life reading, watching old films, and learning multiple languages hoping to escape from her small town. When a group of American tourists arrives for the summer, Viridiana begins working for them and quickly finds herself tangled in their complicated lives and unable to resist the allure of the two younger tourists. She soon begins to realize that the group is not everything they seem and darker questions begin to arise about their identities. 

I loved the overall tone and feel of this story. It isn’t an explosive action-packed crime story, it’s the slow burn of a character allowing herself to trust unsavory characters until she realizes it might be too late. As the reader, we realize this is going on the entire time, and I was at times frustrated and at times completely understanding why Viridiana reacted the way she did. Many of us know the allure of trying to escape our small town. And Moreno-Garcia wrote Viridiana’s character expertly in this regard. 

If you are a fan of Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s writing already, definitely check this out, because it doesn’t disappoint. And if you’re not familiar with her writing, but you enjoy character-driven, slow-burn novels with a noir vibe and expert prose, definitely pick Untamed Shore up!
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I, unfortunately, was not a fan of this book. I think I fell into the hype around this book. This was pitched to me by someone else in the book community as a Jaws-esque book with diverse characters. The atmosphere is very well-defined and is beautifully lush. However, the story is painfully slow and has no shark action whatsoever. Also, trigger warnings for, among other things, description of animal death. I just wasn't a fan of this one, but would certainly read more from this author in the future because the writing was excellent.
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In a genre stuffed to the gills with hard-boiled gumshoes and gangsters, serial killers and behavioral shrinks, narcos and narcs, Silvia Moreno-Garcia has cast aside her acclaimed fantasy bona fides to challenge reader expectations by delivering a crime thriller with literary undercurrents.

In her crime thriller debut, Moreno has taken calculated risks in delivering a literary leaning story with a slow crescendo in a genre crowded by over-the-top chases and traumatic brutality.
Untamed Shore is a coming of age story about an eighteen-year-old underemployed guide named Viridiana, who has managed to learn several foreign languages but is incapable of escaping her isolated Baja California fishing village of Desengaño, a town literally called disillusionment. Rudderless, she feels the growing pressure to follow the Desengañera –tradition—marry young and become the subservient wife.

Looking at him Viridiana had read her future in his eyes: the house they would share with his mother, the long hours behind the counter while Manuel went to play dominoes, the three children. She was saving to move to Mexico City and Manuel was talking of tying the knot and settling down. Worst of all, Viridiana was well aware that he was proposing because his mother wanted him to – and he was plain horny.
Viridiana’s dreams are dying like her town, a place where fishermen hunt ocean predators out of habit, the promise of prosperity having abandoned Desengaño long ago. “Viridiana thought Manuel represented more desire than affection, and knew enough about nets and sharks to picture herself tangled in a certain placid mediocrity which terrified her.”

At the end of the seventies, in a place that might as well be the end of the earth, Viridiana relies on silver screen classics as her sole vehicle to see what life holds beyond the desert and the waves.

. . . Viridiana spent a lot of time reading a myriad of books, yes, and the books promised more, as did the films. Rita Hayworth kissed Glenn Ford. Montgomery Clift embraced Elizabeth Taylor. I can see you. I can hold you next to me, they declaimed in glorious black and white.
Viridiana sees a glimmer of hope when three Americans rent the lone manor at the ocean cliff’s edge, their secrets in tow. She is hired as a live-in assistant to Ambrose, a wealthy man with aspirations of writing his life story in the peaceful isolation of Desengaño. She is quickly swept away by Ambrose’s glamorous wife Daisy and his brother-in-law Gregory—“If the woman looked like she could be a film star, he looked like he might be a model. His features were chiseled, his mouth generous.”

She daydreams of having a life like Daisy’s and the love of a man like Gregory. When Gregory seduces Viridiana, she releases herself to his promises of what they could be and where they could go, hoping it isn’t just afterglow.

As time passes, Viridiana sees blemishes in the glossy veneer of the foreign couple’s marital bliss. “She guessed it didn’t matter if you were rich or poor, a local or a foreigner, there were always men wanting to be all-important, making their wives or girlfriend feel like dirt, slapping them around when they got too mouthy.” As more warning signs threaten her fantasy, Viridiana grapples to assuage her fears—“Virdiana told herself that if a man was ever disparaging to her, she would not forget. She wouldn’t sweep it away. She’d hold it in her heart and notch down his cruelties. She’d bite. Hard.”

Like Martin Solares and other Latinx authors who’ve based their stories in the states around the Gulf of California, Moreno brings an authenticity to the cultural pressures and sociological impact of a small Mexican desert town that has outlived its economic usefulness.
When Ambrose dies under suspicious circumstances, Daisy and Gregory ask Viridiana to bend the truth. To keep her fading dreams alive, she takes the bait and ties her fate to theirs. The consequences of her simple lie escalate as more strangers arrive.

Like Martin Solares and other Latinx authors who’ve based their stories in the states around the Gulf of California, Moreno brings an authenticity to the cultural pressures and sociological impact of a small Mexican desert town that has outlived its economic usefulness.  The eyes of Desengaño are on Viridiana as she struggles to free herself from her misplaced trust and still escape the life she never wanted.

Moreno makes excellent use of the harsh coastal desert and a time devoid of technological conveniences to amplify a sense of desperation and confinement. In an environment full of natural predators, the most dangerous are the foreign interlopers.

Several times she’d compared them to sharks, but thinking it better, she decided scorpions were the better animal. Scorpions killed a lot more people than anything else in Baja California, lots more people than snakes and black widows. They’d sneak up on you, sneak into your camping tent or your bed roll, your shoes, and that would be the end of it. … Sharks were clean killers. Scorpions were not. Scorpions were secretive little monsters.
In her crime thriller debut, Moreno has taken calculated risks in delivering a literary leaning story with a slow crescendo in a genre crowded by over-the-top chases and traumatic brutality. This is a story where social issues and the environment play an important role in the plot, placing Moreno’s novel in an esteemed class with the likes of American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson and Beautiful Animals by Lawrence Osborne.

Though there were points where the ties that entangle Viridiana to the central crisis seemed to stretch thin to the point of her peril being avoidable, I was compelled to follow the journey to completion to see how she emerged on the other side. Nonetheless, she delivers a compelling character-based novel packed with distressing realism. At the end of it all, I feel the riptide of Moreno’s Untamed Shore pulling me toward her other work, and I’m swimming off to devour her whole fantasy catalog.
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Apparently Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a hit or miss author for me. I loved Prime meridian and  Gods of Jade and Shadow but couldn't even finish The beautiful ones. However, Untamed shore sort of falls in the middle; while the descriptions and setting are lavish and evocative, something I've come to expect and enjoy in her work, and the characters were masterfully crafted,  I didn't enjoy it as much as I hoped. It might be a matter of personal preference, since I usually read scifi, but the story in Untamed shore felt unexciting and only managed to finish it because the psychology of the main character was fascinating.
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I received an e-ARC from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
I first became a fan of Silvia Moreno-Garcia after reading her exquisite novel Gods of Jade and Shadow. One of the best things about that book was the main character,  a strong young woman dealing with the constraints of her life and time and making the best of them. Viridiana, is another main character in a similar vein. She is a small-town girl, living in Baja California in the late 1970s,  dreaming of escaping that suffocating small-town life, much like her father did years before, abandoning her and her mother. This being a coming-of-age noir, she soon gets involved with a trio of Americans who have rented a house nearby for the summer and who may or may not be exactly what they seem. The story takes it's time getting started, but the ending is a lovely joy ride. Having read and watched a fair number of noirs none of the twists were especially surprising, but Moreno-Garcia is such a gifted writer that the journey was well worth it
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Set in 1970s Mexico, Untamed Shore is a story we know all too well – that of a young girl with dreams much too big for her small hometown. Viridiana dreams of Paris, Hollywood, Mexico City, and other places far, far away from Desengaño where she’s lived her whole life. When three wealthy tourists arrive in town and hire her as an assistant and tour guide, she thinks the money from this job is her ticket out of here. That is at least until one of them is murdered, and she’s drawn into a web of lies and trickery that will take all her wits to escape.

I absolutely adored the way Silvia Moreno-Garcia seamlessly wove two genres into one plot. On the one hand, you have Viridiana, stifled under the weight of the expectations of her family and the other townsfolk. She’s expected to marry well, inherit her mother’s shop, have lots of children, and spend the rest of her life caring for her family, going to church, and serving her husband. On the other, you have this noir thriller of disguises, a murder mystery, and a plot to get a wealthy husband’s money. Despite the two disparate tones, the author manages to blend the two into a flawlessly executed narrative.

I was completely torn about how I wanted to approach reading this book. I wanted to devour it right away and find out the answers to all the mysteries this book offered up, but I also wanted to take my time and savour every bit of the plot as it unfolded. Either way, I feel like this book ended all too soon and I just wanted more time with it!

I feel it also ended on a perfect note. Not everything is answered; you’re left wondering about some certain fates, and you’re not entirely sure Viridiana gets her happy ending. To that point, some might even feel they end the book wondering if Viridiana even deserved a happy ending. The genius of this book is that it left you wanting more, but also completely satisfied.
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Thank you to Netgalley for the copy of Untamed Shore by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. I had not read a thriller in a while until this book, and I was not disappointed. The story takes place in Baja California, Mexico. I was so excited to know it took place there because I lived there in my childhood. So it definitely made me reminisce of my time there. The author did a great job depicting the atmosphere by the coast. There’s also a sense of time standing still in the small town, and I definitely agree with her on this. 

I also liked how the main character, Viridiana, was breaking traditional expectations that her Mexican family pushed on her (took place in 1979). I do want to say that at times it seem like certain actions were contradictory to what the author had intended to do at first.  The motif of the sharks is interestedly incorporated in the development of Viridiana’s character. There’s definitely character growth due to the circumstances she dealt with.

 Overall, it was a solid read that had me wondering at times (keyword, at times). However, it wasn’t the greatest thriller in that it didn’t have me at the edge of my seat in anticipation of what was about to happen. There was nothing too surprising, in my opinion. It is definitely a quick read as well
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Atmospheric, slow-paced thriller. In a small Baja California town where the largest industries are shark fishing and tourists, and not that many of them, a bored young woman constrained by societal mores takes a job with 3 tourists.   Although she doesn't care for the temperamental older husband, she's  attracted to the glamour of the younger wife and the younger man whose role in the triangle is left undetermined. Convinced to lie for her friends when a death occurs, she begins questioning what's the truth.
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Everyoner has dreams and everyone wants to make something of themselves. Viridiana wants out of the village she lives in. There's not much to do. It feels like a dead end for her and her family is set on her to marry a guy she doesn't love just because it's convinient. She doens't want what her mom has. To marry and have kids and just work at a small store. She has bigger dreams and she wants it bad. 

I really liked this story because it shows how Viridiana manage to "grow" in order to move ahead. Seems like those American tourists did teach her what you got to do to move up. It's a pretty cool thriller I got into and having the culture similarites, it was nice to read more about a latina protagonist. 

This was a pretty fast pace novel in my opinion. Definitely worth 5 out 5 stars and I would really recommend this for everyone because it does have that touristy kinda vibes if you are looking for a good book to take on your next getaway.
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Deception, lies and blackmail. Silvia Moreno-Garcia's noir writing skills shine in this twisty, slow burn suspense novel!
Living under the adage that a fish can only grow as big as it's bowl, naive 18 year old Viridiana watches classic movies and dreams of a life far away from her small village.
Working as a tour guide in a remote fishing town, it is both luck and misfortune when she accepts a personal assistant job for a wealthy traveler and his two companions.
As the events unfold and Viridiana becomes entangled in a web of duplicity and betrayal, she comes to realize nothing is as it seems, and her life will be forever altered.
Engaging narrative, sinister characters, and vividly described settings create an engrossing story with a stunning conclusion. 
This is the second book I've read by this author and I'm looking forward to more! 
*Thank you Silvia Moreno-Garcia, NetGalley and Polis Books for the opportunity to read this novel in exchange for my honest review.
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This is a really good slow-burn suspense novel that, depending on your relationship with Jaws, may have an eerie setting. And by that I mean it’s set in 1979 Baja California, and there are a lot of dead sharks, guts included.

Eighteen-year-old Viridiana wants out of the town because her mom expects her to work in her shop and marry a man Viridiana has broken up with and has zero interest in getting back with. She also grew up aware that she’s the reason her mom got anchored to her father and stuck with a life she didn’t want, something Viridiana refuses to let happen to her. And so when wealthy tourists show up with a writer looking for an assistant, Viridiana takes the job, including moving into a room in their rented home. You know this tale, and you know someone is going to die in an accident, or maybe not an accident…As the cracks widen and the secrets begin to spill, who will protect themselves and who will come out on top?

If you like character driven suspense, and are looking for an interesting setting you’ve probably never read before, definitely pick this one up!
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Garcia managed to do it again and completely shock me. From the lull of her writing and the slow build of dread and the character development of our main character. It was a bit of a  slow ride, but that didn't hurt my experience because I was on the edge of my seat. What was up with these Americans? What's going to happen to Viridiana? How is she going to get out of this? And is she going to survive? I don't read many thrillers, but I adored this one.
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The atmosphere in Untamed Shore is nothing short of perfect, and I could visualize the setting perfectly. Unfortunately, the rest of the book didn't work for me, and the story failed to catch my interest - it took more than 30% of the book to even get through everything that is described in the synopsis.
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