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Badge of Honor by Justine Davis
(Silh. Int. Mom. #871, $4.25, PG) ISBN 0-373-07871-4
Justine Davis returns for the fifth time to the Trinity Street West Police Station in Marina Heights, California. This precinct protects the more disadvantaged areas of the beachside community. If you have read the first four books of the series you are acquainted with Ryan, Cruz, Quisto and Gage, officers and detectives on the front line in the war against drugs and gangs.

Badge of Honor moves us up the chain of command to their supervisors. Sgt. Kit Walker is the detective in charge of the Juvenile Division. Very early in her career, Kit's police officer fiancÚ was killed in the line of duty. After his death her grief turned into an absorption with her job that brooked no interference by a social life.

Her superior is Lt. Kenneth Robards, an odious bigot who reveals when push comes to shove that he is really more of a racist than a sexist. But he is well practiced at being both. His exploits have been a constant thread throughout this entire series.

And at the top, Chief Miguel de los Reyes has finally turned the police department into a cohesive dedicated force that is making a difference in the community. Widowed for six years, Miguel has devoted his waking life to the rebirth of the department.

Kit and Miguel have been great friends for the past decade. In fact, it was Kit who supported Miguel during his wife's death from a ravaging cancer, and later it was Kit who remained at Miguel's bedside willing him to live after a he sustained devastating gunshot wounds. But suddenly, after years of friendship, the chemistry between them suddenly ignites.

In addition to sustaining a simmering romantic tension that continues to mount between Kit and Miguel, Davis addresses other timely issues. A budding relationship like this is virtually a minefield of disasters waiting to happen. Kit's career could suffer incredible damage with accusations of sleeping her way up the ranks forever tainting her. Miguel, on the other hand, is looking at the potential for charges of favoritism or even sexual harassment, depending on the way the wind blows.

I really enjoyed the love story, I liked the realistic approach and understanding of today's social and potential legal issues and, as usual, I liked Davis' ability to deftly define her characters, while sustaining credible sexual conflict throughout the book.

--Thea Davis

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