Silver Love

Falling for Him by Morgan Hayes
(Harl. Super #886, $4.25, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-70866-6
Falling for Him, the latest entry in the Count on a Cop series, is a taut police tale of a dedicated cop suspected of evidence-tampering following the death of her partner. As such, it works admirably. As a romance, it leaves more to be desired.

Detective Claudia Parrish still mourns the death of her partner, Frank, a man who was also her lover. Frank died under a cloud of suspicion, an apparent suicide, and Claudia carries guilt over his death because of a quarrel they had on the night he died. Frank had been under investigation for possibly destroying evidence, a crime Claudia is sure he didn't commit. She's also pretty sure his death wasn't a suicide.

When Claudia is assigned to work with a new partner, Detective Gavin Monaghan, her defenses rise. She doesn't want a new partner. Especially not one who has spent the last year chauffeuring for the commissioner. But Gavin isn't quite who Claudia thinks he is. He's really working for the Internal Affairs department, who now want to investigate Claudia. Seems that evidence is still conveniently disappearing, and the top brass think Claudia may have taken up where Frank left off.

Gavin soon has misgivings. He'd originally worked on Frank's case, but asked to be taken off when he couldn't justify the investigation. Now he's working with Claudia, and falling for her, as she is for him. What will happen when she finds out who he really is?

The author obviously did a lot of homework into police procedure. I was caught up in the intricacies of the investigation, and the action is fast-paced, the dialogue realistic. Gaving and Claudia definitely could talk the talk.

What didn't sit well for me was the romantic entanglement between these two. Oh, the attraction between them is believable, with more than adequate sexual tension. But Claudia gave me some trouble. For starters, she's already slept with one partner, and the ethical and professional issues behind this are glossed over, with a weak explanation of "We decided to keep it professional". How professional could that possibly be? It didn't work for me. So what does she do? Falls into bed with her new partner. I realize that a staple of romance fiction is the "overcome by passion" scenario, but you'd think this woman would have learned something from her previous mistakes.

Or maybe it's that she never seemed to think sleeping with her partner was a mistake. At any rate, the whole setup bothered me. The novel might have fared better if Claudia and Gavin hadn't consummated their relationship until the case was resolved and they were no longer partners. As it was, I had little faith in their romance, which felt underdeveloped and tacked-on, and I began to wonder if Claudia would end up in bed with any man she partnered.

If you like your romance with a heavy dose of action and a touch of grit, Falling for Him may be just what you're looking for. Readers who like a story focusing more on the romance may want to steer clear.

--Cathy Sova

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