The Row - J. R. Johansson, Janine O'Malley
I’ve read one of J.R. Johansson’s work before: Insomnia. While I enjoyed it, I wasn’t a fan of the main character, which caused a lot of problems. I still haven’t ruled out continuing the series but I’m not excited for it.

When I saw this cover and blurb though, I was. And it paid off.

You know that wonderful feeling when you just start a book and are instantly in?
That’s what happened. I get giddy just thinking of it.

The Good:
+Thrilling mystery
+Loved Riley’s POV. Her voice comes through strong and clear.
+Liked how Riley and Jordan worked and played off each other
+Romance is cute.
=Liked how it brought up *a few* issues with prisons. (but it’s not about that, it’s passing remarks)

The Bad & The Other:
-Jordan’s instant, persistent quest to help Riley felt fishy – even after the explanation.
=Liked the ending, but it feels like easy way out. I’d like to know how they’d be if it turned out slightly different…that’d be bolder.

Note: Jordan and fam are Mexican. The only POC that I recall.

First sentence: I step into the registration building and marvel at how it smells the same every time.

The Row is really good. It sucked me right in and kept me guessing. When I had to put it down, I kept wondering about it. Then I came back and *whoosh*, it felt like I never left.

The pacing is perfect with the right timing and shifting. The clues all make sense as they come and even better when the final picture is shown. There’s red herrings that aren’t obvious and fit in for the perfect blending.

Riley’s internal conflicts and emotional journey is…oh, boy.

However, generalities about the beginning is as far as I can go without spoiling anything. Which leaves this teeny review feeling pathetic and generic. But I’m not an asshole so….
Let’s talk once you read it.

While the top shelves are Mystery, Thriller and Contemporary, I’d peg it as a YA romantic suspense. Their relationship doesn’t overshadow the mystery; it’s about them working together with the right atmosphere, getting closer, and a showdown ending.