Cover Image: The Rose Reaper

The Rose Reaper

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Member Reviews

I loved this book and that she survived and brought him down.
I never would have guessed who it was. It only came clearer near the end.
This is a page turner I loved it

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Jennifer Hunter’s thriller, The Rose Reaper, is not for the faint of heart. It’s technically the second book in the Ryan Strickland duo written by Hunter, the first being The Lost Victim. The opening scene of the latest novel is disturbing and has some content warnings (I don’t usually include those, but this one is unavoidable) that readers should be aware of, as you can’t get through the opening chapter without encountering one (content warning: sexual assault). The Rose Reaper can easily be read as a standalone book.

What is The Rose Reaper about?

Kate Doyle is brutally assaulted by a serial killer but manages to escape when her abductor, Freddy Poole, goes on the porch to smoke a cigarette. Kate makes it to a highway where a couple stops to pick her up and bring her to the police.

Three years later, Kate is finally living her life again, though scarred by what happened to her. She has a handsome boyfriend named Reed who is caring and attentive to her needs. But when she receives a rose out of nowhere and learns another young woman has been abducted, her nightmares return. Who is copying Freddy Poole’s crimes?

As the killer continues to abduct and murder, he sends Kate roses corresponding with the number of victims. Often, the roses come before the victims have been discovered, leading the police to conclude they must be from the real killer. They bring in psychologist Ryan Strickland to speak with her, the person who originally helped her process the traumatic events three years earlier.

Will Kate be able to help them find out who the killer is before he takes her as his next victim?

What did I think?

The opening scene is violent and portrays a graphic sexual assault. I want to say that here because I think readers need to be warned. I’m able to take a lot in my books, but I skimmed past this chapter. In my opinion, it wasn’t necessary to the plot other than to understand the extreme trauma Kate endured. Let’s move on from that…

The bulk of the story outside of that first chapter focuses on the new killer. In this case, the reader doesn’t have to endure things from his perspective which went a long way toward steering away from the gruesome opening scene. The terror for me was psychologically seeing Kate receiving the roses each time the killer took a new victim. It’s clear that whoever the copy cat is, he’s obsessed with Kate and Freddy Poole.

While Ryan works with Kate to unlock more of her memories—any detail that might help—Agent Chapman is working to uncover who the copycat killer is. I enjoyed watching Ryan and Agent Chapman work together on the case. Kate’s story is one of resilience in many ways. Her boyfriend Reed may not be the supportive life partner she thought he was, and that’s something she has to process as the events unfold. Throughout the story she transforms to the victim who got away to a woman who won’t let fear control her life.

The ending had a strange vibe to it—after the reveal and capture of the person responsible for the killings, Kate is laughing about it in the hospital with another victim. I guess everyone processes grief in a different way, but it just was strange given what they went through. The book has such a dark tone, so Kate’s transformation—while lovely—is not entirely authentic to me.

Overall this is a quick, entertaining read. You don’t have to read the first book to enjoy this one. I recommend skipping the first chapter if violent sexual assault is a trigger (or even just an unpleasant topic) for you.

Thank you to Thomas & Mercer for my copy. Opinions are my own.

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Fabulous thriller! I loved everything about Jennifer Hunter's writing. Devoured this book in one day. I highly recommend The Rose Reaper to anyone looking for an edge of your seat thriller that is exciting!

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It is a good read, I even didn't realize that it is the second book in the series, I found out when people and cases were referenced in the story and I got intrigued. I was gripped by the story even tho I have to warn the readers about graphic details of rape from the rapist's point of view. The writing style is good and I look forward to reading other books by this author.

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This is the 2nd book in the Ryan Strickland series, and I loved it! This was a quick and thrilling read. I've been enjoying the twist on the typical crime thriller with Ryan being a psychologist.

This story was dark and twisty with an unpredictable plot. Jennifer Hunter writes in a way that invokes so many emotions in me. There was great suspense building throughout, and the ending was totally not what I expected.

This can be read as a standalone, but I recommend reading the 1st book because it's amazing!

Thank you to NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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Book 2 in the Ryan Strickland series was a really good book! I really like the character development of all the people in the story. The red herring a little bit before the halfway point of the story didn't really get me as I thought it was put into the story to move the plot along. The twist was just twisty enough to be a good ending. I hope there's another book in the series. Four stars!

Trigger Warning: The main character is a rape survivor and escaped a serial killer

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The Rose Reaper is a fast paced suspenseful thriller by Jennifer Hunter. The book is told from two narrators. One is Kate and the other is the Copy cat killer

The Rose Reaper begins with Kate being tied to a bed and brutalized by a serial killer that has been hunting young single women. The beginning is violent and disturbing. When her abductor, Freddy Poole, walks onto the porch to smoke a cigarette, she finally sees her chance to escape, knowing she is running out of time. After she unties herself from the bed, she takes off into the woods, running for her life, although with no sense of direction. When she reaches the highway, a car with a couple stop, waiting for the police, she’s scared, when a truck pulls up and a man starts to approach her. It’s none other than her abductor and she begins to fear that her escape was short lived.

Three years later, Kate is starting to finally live again. She is dating a handsome man named Reed who takes good care of her, and is always looking out for her health and happiness. But suddenly her nightmares start coming back when she receives a rose, coinciding with the abduction of a young woman.

Who is the new killer? And why does he or she have the journals from Freddy Poole. You see inside their dark and depraved mind as they obsess over the Rose Reaper and their ultimate goal of out killing the original.
“Roses are red, Violets are blue. If you see me . . . It’s too late for you.”

As each victim is chosen and disposed of, the killer sends Kate the number of roses coinciding with the number victim. She receives these before the women’s bodies have even been discovered.
“I want to feel her anticipating me, afraid of me, under me, bleeding for me. Dying for me. Tonight.”

At first he is in no hurry, not following the time line of the original killer, but creating his own, finding victims that resemble the original victims. But the killer has no empathy or remorse, and as his game of cat and mouse continues, he devolves.
“He hummed the tune as he worked. He couldn’t get it out of his head. Not since the first time he’d read the rhyme and an awakening came over him. All those twisted thoughts in his mind, the urges he held on lockdown, the need clawing at him . . . he wasn’t losing his mind. He wasn’t deranged or psychotic. He was born this way.”

Kate is trying to be happy. Her life is on track, and her new boyfriend is everything a woman could dream of. She has finally opened up to someone and stopped living in fear, looking over her shoulder
“She’d been doing so well. And then she’d gotten that first rose. It began the slow erosion of her new life.”
Once she receives the rose, she contacts the police, who at first treat her like she is overreacting. As the case continues, she reconnects with the FBI psychologist, Ryan that initially helped her through the rape and abduction.

The author takes you on a thrilling journey, suspecting everyone. Will Kate be able to live a normal life? Will she survive? And will finding out who is responsible emotionally crippled her for the rest of her life?

I definitely enjoyed the book and will check out more books by her.

I would recommend a trigger warning as the book starts with a violent rape scene, even though the rest of the book doesn’t center around it. It does contain violence and graphic imagery.

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I enjoyed reading this story. It's very well written. If you enjoy reading suspense stories, this one is for you. It absolutley felt like reading a Criminal Minds episode.
I suggest reading the first book before this one, but recommend this series to everyone who likes psychological thrillers.

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I tried to like this book so much, I really did. While the premise of intertwining fate, love, and the macabre is compelling, the execution leaves much to be desired.

One of the primary issues with “The Rose Reaper” lies in its pacing and structure. The narrative often felt disjointed, with abrupt shifts that disrupt the flow of the story. This inconsistency made it challenging for me to stay engaged and fully immerse myself in the world that author attempted to build. Moreover, the pacing was a little uneven, with some sections dragging on unnecessarily while others rushed through potentially significant developments.

The novel also struggled with character development. The protagonist and supporting characters came across as one-dimensional, lacking depth and the complexity needed to make them truly resonate with me. The relationships between characters sometimes seemed underdeveloped, which made it difficult to invest in the characters journeys or the supposed emotional stakes of the narrative.

Lastly, while there are moments of vivid description and engaging dialogue, these are overshadowed by instances of clichéd expressions and predictable plot twists. The prose often lacks the nuance and originality needed to elevate the story beyond its genre conventions.

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Kate, a woman who has rebuilt her life after escaping a brutal kidnapping and rape by a serial killer three years earlier, has now found herself in the cross hairs of the copycat who has taken his place. Leaving roses for her each time he take another woman, Kate knows its only a matter of time before he comes for her.

The Rose Reaper is a suspenseful read, one that had me unable to put the book down and had me guessing who the killer could be throughout most of the book. I was a little thrown off over some of the aspects of the original case and why the FBI had stopped investigating and trying to find where the women had been held so soon, but the writing and insight to the characters' psyches along with the edge of your seat suspense easily made up for the flaws in the investigation and kept me hooked. I really enjoyed getting more glimpses into the man Ryan Strickland is as both a man and an investigator and am looking forward to seeing how this series continues on.

Note: The Rose Reaper can be read as a standalone, however it is book two in the Ryan Strickland series picking up shortly after where The Lost Victim ends so I highly recommend reading that one first.

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Trigger Warning: Rape described in detail.

Not going to lie, the start of the book was a little jarring as we immediately begin with a rape scene which can be triggering for a lot of readers. The description of the book doesn't give any indication of its content and the lack of a trigger warning might be harmful to readers sensitive to it.

Other than that, this book was quite a read and kept me flipping pages, wanting to know what was going to happen next. It's been a while since I have read a mystery thriller that would have me reading for hours. The writing style was simple yet engaging. The book gives an interesting take on serial killers by showing both the victim's and the killer's perspectives. Not something I had read in any other books before.

Although I guessed who the culprit was later on, the author did a good job of keeping the real culprit hidden till the very last part of the book. It was a little confusing in the beginning to tell who the main character was because even though the series is called ‘Ryan Strickland’ the main focus of the book for the majority of the part was on Kate, the victim. I haven't read the first book in the series so this might be the author's writing style but either way, it didn't bother me enough to reduce a star. It was a good read and I will definitely check out other works in this series.

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There was definitely a lot of tension and suspense here coupled with fear and danger of the world around us, especially after a traumatic experience.

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I wish I read book 1 because some of the references intrigued me but I will get to reading it eventually. The plot was good but I felt something missing! I would expect a little more from the FBI when investigating things so it seemed a little off but other then that a good story!

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I haven't read the first book in this series but after reading this one, I may just do so since this one was so good, keeping me on the edge of my seat throughout. I do love a serial killer storyline and this one ticked all the boxes for me. I will be keeping all fingers crossed for another book in this series.

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Seriously solid serial killer thriller!

Thank you #netgalley and #thomasandmercer #amazonpublishing for the eARC.

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Right off the bat some readers may find the first chapter to be triggering as it does talk about the original rose reaper and the things that he did to his victims, more specifically sexual assault as told from the point of view of the killer himself. However, that part is easily skipped, and once you get past that, the focus is then moved onto the new killings which are not described in a such a graphic manner. In fact, the new killings are never told from the perspective of the copy-cat killer. We are simply told that a woman has gone missing, Kate has received another rose outside of her home, and then the woman's body eventually washes up in the river.

I found that while this story did have some elements that stuck out, for the most part it managed to stick to the typical thriller trope. On one hand we have Ryan working alongside Agent Chapman as one tries to help Kate unlock her memories of that traumatic time while the other works to uncover just who this copy-cat killer is. These two as a dynamic duo were very interesting, Agent Chapman was your typical FBI agent. Determined to get his mind, but sometimes a little too .... focused on things that if he had taken a small step back would have realized were just a little bit too cut and dry. Ryan on the other hand was more interesting to me since I never really got a feel for what he was supposed to be doing. We are told he often consults with the FBI and he is very good and helping victims process their trauma. Which he does. But he also at times seems to be almost profiling the killer even though we are not given any reason to believe he has the sort of background to do so. I also enjoyed the way the killed included Molly as his sort of long-distance girlfriend. It gave him a softer side that I felt made him feel more human.

On the opposite side of the field we have Kate who thought she was building a new life for herself only to be forced back into the past with all of her trauma resurfacing and having to come to terms with the fact that the man she thought she was building a life with may not be the man she thought he was after all. I loved how this character was presented. She had the moments of weakness that were to be expected. You watched her face her trauma head on, and then you watched as she grew as a character and went from "the one who got away" to the "one who will never live in fear again." It sent a powerful message I think about the ability to reclaim your own life after a traumatic event.

There were a couple of instances where I thought I knew who the copycat killer was, and then some moments when I thought I was wrong (even if it seemed a little too convenient), but even when my suspicions were proven right I enjoyed the way the characters finally got there. There was a lot of build-up that I thought was executed very well.

All things considered, I think I am going to go back and give the first novel in this series a read, and if I see anything in the future from this series, if the synopsis appeals to me I'll probably give them a read as well.

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this that review are 100% my own.

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Wow, this is a really great book. I was hooked and couldn’t put it down. Loved the suspense level and not knowing who the serial killer was. It’s easy to follow even if you haven’t read the first book. Kate escaped a serial killer that was killed at her rescue. But is there a copycat killer now? This was very twisted and loved being on edge. How will they figure it all out in time? Thankfully they do and there’s a halo fever after. I voluntarily read an advanced readers copy and I highly recommend this book.

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Wow!! This book reminded me of the Butcher and the Wren and I loved that book too! This book was captivating and so thrilling! I loved that it was multiple POVs including the killers! I loved Kate’s story and how brave she was and how she overcame the fear is actually inspiring. To see her push forward and keep living (even if it is a nightmare) is just astonishing! I can not wait to read more from this author and I had so much fun with this book!

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One Was Made A Monster; The Other Chose To Be One

Three years earlier, Kate Doyle was abducted and assaulted. One evening, she frees herself and escapes while her abductor is outside. The cabin she flees in the middle of a forest. As she runs, she hears a voice. She does not know if it was her abductor because he never talked in her presence. The voice says that he does not have to do this. Doyle keeps running as hard as she can until she runs onto a road. She waves it down an approaching car. A husband and wife step out. The wife assists Doyle. The husband calls 911. Soon, a truck drives up between the husband and Doyle. The driver gets out. He is the abductor and calls Doyle by name. He tells her to get in, as the police and FBI show up. The abductor has his hand behind his back. He tells them that Doyle belongs to him. He quickly moves his hand out from behind his back and is shot twice in the chest. The Rose Reaper, who previously had abducted, assaulted, and killed six women, is dead. Three years later, Doyle finds a red rose on her driveway, just like the one the Rose Reaper left when she was abducted. From this start, her nightmare starts again.

The main storyline consists of four threads. Ryan Strickland narrates a thread through which the reader learns what is happening in the investigation. He is a psychologist and an FBI consultant. He was there three years earlier to help Doyle start reestablishing her life. Doyle narrates another thread that provides the tension in the novel as the new killer intends that she will be his seventh victim. The new Rose Reaper narrates a thread so the reader will see his view of events. The last thread is several pages from the original Rose Reaper’s diary. The author weaves the four threads together so skillfully that I had no difficulty following the novel's storyline. The flow of the novel is fast but not too fast. It keeps the suspense high as soon as Doyle’s number seven quickly approaches. Additionally, there are many twists and turns in trying to identify the identity of the new Rose Reaper. Achieving this goal requires much knowledge about the original Rose Reaper’s and his brother’s childhood. Unfortunately, both are dead. My interest was swiftly captured.

As this novel depends much on what happened years earlier, the background provides much insight, primarily centered on Doyle and the original Rose Reaper. These two background threads are also critical to the main storyline. They also offer much insight into these characters and why they act and respond the way they do. Two B-storylines provide more background. They are the relationship between Strickland and Doyle and Strickland’s long-distance relationship with his new love interest. This rich background enhanced my reading enjoyment.

Some aspects that can cause some readers to stop reading are solidly present in this novel, with the prologue being the worst. There are intimate scenes. There are crimes against women and children. There are vulgar and rude language. Violence is described more in the more edgy manner as it occurs. The level of these potential issues earns the warning — let the reader beware. The last category in this group is anything required from the previous novel. This is the second novel in the series. I have the first novel in the series but have not read it. I did not feel that there were any unexplained references.

What I enjoyed in this novel was the complexity of the investigation of both Rose Reapers and the background provided on the main characters. I enjoyed that this novel made me think. The issue that bothered me the most was that I felt the investigation had a severe flaw. As for the ending, there were not any loose ends, and I was pleased with the ending for the Rose Reaper. As for the author, this novel was the first that I have read by this author. As such, she is in my Pending Category. I recommend reading it if the teaser interests you, but with the abovementioned caveat. If you can read past the prologue, you should be able to complete the novel. I look forward to reading the first novel in the series I own. I rate this novel with four stars.

I received this novel's free prepublication e-book version through NetGalley from Thomas & Mercer. My review is based solely on my own reading experience of this book. Thank you, Thomas & Mercer, for the opportunity to read and review this novel early.

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The Lost Victim was an excellent thriller but The Rose Reaper by Jennifer Hunter is another phenomenal story that kept me turning the page’s.
Serial killer thrillers are some of my most favorite stories to read and this one was an intriguing and entertaining read.
It is a well-crafted book that gives us a good story through the main characters, it is filled with a good amount of mystery, thrill, and intrigue.

Thank You NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for your generosity and gifting me a copy of this amazing eARC!

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