Good characters plus energetic writing and an engaging story - with just a little difficulty maintaining the pace of an otherwise satisfying romance - equal some nice escapist romantic fiction.
Assistant District Attorney Kelly Whalen and her ex-husband, Houston Police Detective Tony Ashcroft, havenít spoken in nearly four years. Devastated by the miscarriage of their daughter, Kelly and Ash couldnít communicate with each other, resulting in a messy divorce.
Now, a man Kelly imprisoned for a prominent socialiteís murder has been released on a technicality. Outraged citizens want him re-convicted and Ash has been assigned to the case. Theyíre not happy to work together, but Kelly canít complain. If thereís one thing she knows about Ash, itís that heís good at his job and she needs all the help she can get.
It is quickly apparent that the original trial was deeply flawed. Kelly, recovering from the miscarriage, may have overlooked some dubious evidence. There are certainly holes in the case and the investigating detective may have taken shortcuts to ensure a conviction.
Kelly and Ash also find that, with the anger of their divorce dissipated and the pain of their loss blunted by time, itís all too easy to remember why they fell in love. They respect each other, theyíre attracted to each other, and itís almost impossible for them not to like each other.
Thereís a lot to enjoy in this book. The murder case was interesting enough to keep the reader engaged and a good showcase for both the personalities and abilities of the protagonists. The fact that a lot of people wanted the investigation dropped helped forge their partnership. The story was also written with a crisp edge that suited it and made a nice change from the prissy fluff affected by too many romance writers.
It was also easy to like and appreciate both Kelly and Ash. While they found it awkward to work together, they approached it like grownups. Both are smart and professional, able to get their jobs done in spite of the growing turmoil of their emotions.
Ash is a straight-ahead guy - see what you want, go after what you want - and the kind of man you want in your corner when you need to depend on someone, with a dash of emotional awareness to make him more interesting. As a cop heís learned to trust his gut and as a man heís got enough sensitivity to realize that, when it comes to Kelly, he may not be able to have what he wants. Heís realistic, but fortunately for us heís also determined.
Kelly is the one in emotional turmoil. She shut down when she lost her baby and now Ash is back in her life stirring everything up again, including her susceptibility to him. I liked the fact that she acknowledged her feelings - and also the fact that she didnít let them control her. She was honestly emotional but she didnít turn into driveling idiot as a result.
My one real difficulty was that, even with the interesting story and the nice take on the reunion theme, the romance stalls in the middle. Ms. Harris does a great job of building sexual tension at a believable pace during the first third of the book. After that, however, she needed to keep the characters apart but was less successful at keeping the relationship moving forward. Ash and Kelly languished too long at the point where they wanted something to change but kept walking away from it. It was particularly noticeable since the story had been moving along so briskly.
Once Kelly and Ash make the commitment to moving forward again, so does the story.
Although itís not something I usually do (because the futility of judging a book by its cover is particularly true in the romance genre), Iíd like to mention what a great cover I think this book has. I made (justifiable) fun of the front of the last Intimate Moments I reviewed, so credit where credit is due. This is one book I might just have bought based on the cover. Nice work, somebody.