REVIEW: Fragile Sanctuary by Catherine Cowles

Posted May 24th, 2024 by in Blog, Contemporary Romance, HJ Recommends, Review, Romantic Suspense / 5 comments



In Fragile Sanctuary by Catherine Cowles, Rhodes knows the horrible things she’s been through have shaped her into who she is today as much as the love and support from her found family, the Colsons, has. She tries to face each new day with joy and to always celebrate the good around her. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that when Rho meets her brother’s friend Anson–the man who will be restoring an old Victorian for her–and sees how grumpy he is, that she would try to brighten his days. But that’s a no go. Even though there are plenty of sparks between them, Anson wants nothing to do with her. And Rho slowly figures out that the problem lies in his past, not in his attraction to her. Something she can too easily understand–and something she can work with.

“Just be careful… The shit Anson’s dealt with…it’s dark. Darker than anything we’ve seen. I don’t want it to pull you down, too.”
My stomach twisted viciously. Given what all my siblings and I had been through, we’d seen some of the worst of the worst. At least, I thought we had. What was darker than that?

Relationships of any kind are not a part of Anson’s life anymore. He’s made too many mistakes and won’t put himself through any loss ever again if he can help it. But that was before meeting his college buddy Shep’s sister, Rho. She’s his own polar opposite in almost every way–except for the demons that haunt her. That they have in common. Anson knows it would be all too easy to let his attraction to her sink its claws into his heart. Try as he might to keep his distance, he keeps running back to Rho each time trouble finds her. Before long, Anson is wrapped up in the deadly drama unfolding around both him and Rho. But this time he’s determined to keep everyone around him safe and to fight for that bright future he knows he could have with Rho if they’re given the chance.

I held her tighter against me. “You’re safe. I promise.”
But I knew that was a promise I couldn’t keep. Because I’d failed before, and it was always the people closest to me who paid the price.

Wow. FRAGILE SANCTUARY was quite the suspenseful ride! It left me on the edge of my seat figuring out who the bad guy was, and it was also filled to the brim with a lovely found family, genuine friendships, and a slow-burn romance that was both sexy and tender.

‘Wherever Rho was, that’s where I wanted to be. The cost didn’t matter. Because she was my sanctuary. I’d just never realized how fragile it all was.’

CW: View Spoiler »

FRAGILE SANCTUARY was a terrific beginning to Catherine Cowles’ new Sparrow Falls series. I love it when an author keeps me guessing in a novel and she truly had me changing my mind about the culprit several times over. I was hooked right away with her expressive writing voice and how deeply it drew me into Rho and Anson’s relationship as it slowly developed. What I think struck me most, though, was how Cowles tempered some of the heaviness of the characters’ backstories with delightful, fun moments featuring Rho’s found family, the Colsons, and with the tenderness that grew between her and Anson. It truly made this a multidimensional story that stole my heart.

Without giving too many spoilers, I can say that the trauma Rho suffered as a teen and the more recent events that completely changed Anson’s world is what bonded them. They both understood the pain, grief, and loss they were grappling with in a way that no one around them truly could. And while this did go to some very dark places, Rho and Anson were able to begin healing–finally–while at the same time falling in love with each other. Which posed its own problems.

Theirs was a bit of an angsty romance, but I honestly felt like it was right for their situation and who they were personality-wise. But I just loved them together: Rho’s sunshiny vibes clashing with Anson’s grumpiness. It was funny, heated, and sigh-worthy on every level. I can’t wait to get more glimpses of their happy future with the next installment–a book which I’m wondering if it will feature Rho’s older brother Shep as the hero? Time will tell…

QOTD: Are you a romantic suspense fan? If so, have any authors to recommend?


Book Info:

Publication: May 16th, 2024 | by The PageSmith LLC | Sparrow Falls #1

The scowl should’ve been my first clue to stay far away from Anson Hunt. The sexy smirk and the fact that he’s my brother’s best friend? Reasons two and three. Not to mention, he’s the new contractor working on my house.

He’s everything I’m not: grumpy, rude, and more than a little attached to his solitude. It doesn’t matter how many times I try to kill him with kindness; the man simply won’t crack.

Until he sees me shatter.

Because when my world comes crashing down around me, Anson is the one catching me as I fall. And as so-called accidents start plaguing every part of my life, it’s Anson who steps in to keep me safe.

As he does, I can’t help but feel a flicker of heat. And it only takes a single moment for that spark to ignite into flames, engulfing us both.

But Anson’s a man with secrets, and they have a price. When they’re revealed, neither of us will make it out unscathed…



5 Responses to “REVIEW: Fragile Sanctuary by Catherine Cowles”

  1. Glenda M

    Romantic suspense isn’t the first type of book I’ll grab, but I do like it sometimes. Thanks so much for the review!

  2. erahime

    I read romantic suspense books, but I have no recommendations to give. Though this is a lovely review, Team HJ.