So to judge the actual summary itself:
It feels like the characters are being propelled forwards by the writer, not by the plot or their actions. Like you have a destination in mind for them so things need to happen. This often causes sudden lurches or skips or abrupt endings to some storylines so that it can be wrapped up and the next thing can just happen.
This is especially prevalent with the romance/mystery breakage. Based on real people, if you find yourself drawn into an affair with a married man, even if he says “hey I filed for divorce!” it’s not usually that simple. You have a character who doesn’t want anything to do with love, who fears all of this and hates everything around it and her entire characterization is based on her opposition to love, but then he says he’s single now and she kisses him and their romantic issues are gone.
There’s no residual fear of getting close or opening up. There’s no constant mess of sorting out a divorce, there’s no fear of social pressure if people think he left his wife for the nanny or that they were actively cheating before the divorce. There’s no fear if he cheated on his past wife he won’t cheat on her too. There’s no fear from him around her disappearing. There’s no sorting out who gets the kid or how she feels about potentially liking a man who has a child/was married up until a hot second ago.
Instead it shifts into full mystery. And because of that, it effectively has to start a new plot all over again. I think from the perspective of could these two plotlines exist together, yes, certainly. It’s interesting to see this kind of case. But the characters you’ve set up don’t play very well in it.
To have a “omg I might get kidnapped” plot is kind of fascinating, for a guy to be a cop and like a woman and then that woman have to be in protective custody is kind of unique since usually they’re put in protection first and fall in love through that. In that scenario though, he’s going to need to have some sort of issues or reservations around this, and she will too.
For example, she doesn’t want to love because she thinks it leads to misery. She ends up in love and then is immediately struck with misery. Wouldn’t that make her question the decision she just made to fall in love?
“See, I knew it. You open up your heart and it’s nothing but misfortune everywhere you go. This is what you get for loving. This is what you get for forgetting the lessons of the past.”
For a police officer who just fell in love, what does this mean to him? He just blew up his entire life that he understood, he has a kid who now needs to go somewhere and probably has feelings, and the woman he left his wife for is now a target in his police investigation. I imagine he would probably feel some guilt (he thinks she’s being targeted because she’s dating a cop) or he would want to keep his professional and personal lives separate and now doesn’t want to be engaged in a relationship with her but doesn’t know what that means. You just got a divorce for a woman and you’re going to drop her like a rock already?
There’s a lot of interplays being sidelined so that there can be a mystery plot and that makes that mystery plot uninteresting because it has nothing to do with the continuity of the character’s emotional cores from the beginning. MC opens as opposed to love, but that’s solved mid book so she can be kidnapped for awhile, and that kidnapping doesn’t help her grow or resolve anything in her character, seeing as it was already resolved.
There’s not really a reason I can see why it has to be resolved or sidelined, like I talked about above, there’s a lot of implications that come with this additional plot layer.
Also, remove Heather as the kidnapper. It is a meaningless twist that adds nothing to the plot, and if the plot were still focused on how the kidnapping impacts their lives and romance it would inherently be interesting. It feels like the twist is just there at the end to make it so that the mystery plot feels worthwhile, like you got something out of it in the form of a surprise. Also it currently doesn’t have an ending. Nothing is really resolved, except for the romance much earlier. It feels like it’s just a reveal to reveal.
I am curious to see how this plot and setup plays out by what it’s created. I want to see it exist around this romance within a kidnapping and the strains that causes.