Just Before Sunrise

Kiss the Moon

Night Scents

On Fire

A Rare Chance

White Hot

The Waterfall by Carla Neggers
(Mira, $6.50, PG) ISBN 1-55166-582-4
I opened the The Waterfall not knowing what to expect, having never read Carla Neggers before. Based on this first experience, I’d certainly read her again. This is a nicely written romantic suspense that keeps the reader absorbed from start to finish.

Lucy Blacker Swift is a widowed mother of two. After losing her husband, the son of a powerful U.S. senator, she decides to start a new life by moving herself and her children to Vermont. Since her husband’s death, she has built a successful adventure travel business and made a home for her children, far away from the fast-paced Washington scene.

After three years, she and her children have come to terms with their grief over a lost husband and father. All seems to be going well, even if Lucy is somewhat dismayed to find out that she’s earned the moniker, “The Widow Swift. in the small Vermont village where they’ve made their home. At thirty-eight, she’s not quite prepared to slide into that somewhat lonely-sounding role. Then, one day, Lucy finds a bullet in the front seat of her car -- and that’s not the only mysterious and troubling incident.

Unsure of what to do, Lucy finally decides to look up her husband’s best friend, Sebastian Redwing. Her husband had always told her that if she were ever in trouble she should go to Sebastian, who also happens to be the one who gave her an escape from Washington three years ago by selling her his childhood home in Vermont. So, like it or not, Lucy is connected to Sebastian. She’s always found him somewhat disturbing, but after another incident, she finally decides to go to Montana and track him down.

Her reception in Montana is less than friendly. Sebastian, who owns one of the top security firms in the country, has ‘retired’ to a shack in the middle of nowhere and seems totally uninterested in seeing Lucy or hearing about her troubles. Her teenage daughter compares him to Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven. Angry at his hostile response, Lucy decides to go back to Vermont and deal with things on her own. She wasn’t too keen on tracking him down in the first place and only did so because she lives in dread of the Capitol police descending on her peaceful life if her father-in-law ever got wind of her plight.

Sebastian may have seemed unmoved by Lucy’s presence, but before she knows it, he turns up at her quiet Vermont farm. After he arrives, events start to move along even more quickly and the suspense builds.

Lucy is resourceful, smart and independent; in other words, an engaging and admirable heroine. She doesn’t put up with any nonsense from anyone, Sebastian and her defiant teenage daughter included. It’s nice to see a woman in control who doesn’t collapse at the first sign of trouble.

Sebastian also admires Lucy’s backbone, as well as the rest of her. Lucy Blacker Swift has been on his mind a long time. Against her better judgment, Lucy is also attracted to Sebastian and the sexual tension between them sizzles.

Neggers weaves the plots and mysteries into a satisfying tale and we’re pulled quickly along to the exciting dénouement. The story delivers all that you’d expect from romantic suspense; lots of plot twists, a strong heroine and a sexy hero. For readers who like a heavy focus on the romance, the book focuses more on Lucy’s story. The romance is a key part of it, but it is interwoven with the other plot elements and doesn’t dominate the story as is the case in many romances.

It was a little too easy to guess at some of the mysteries and I would have liked a little more dimension in the characterizations of the bad guys in this book, but these are small quibbles that didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment of the book to any significant degree. The Waterfall is a solid four hearts and recommended for any reader who enjoys romantic suspense.

--Tina Nigro

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