|Protector's Temptation is another Marilyn Pappano story set in Copper Lake, a small Georgia town of twenty thousand people. A.J. Decker is in charge of the detective division of the police department, a job he has grown to like, notwithstanding the fact that he would not have enjoyed the same administrative role while he was working for the Dallas Police Department.
An old friend from Dallas, Assistant District Attorney Donovan. shows up one day to ask for a favor. He has a defense attorney he wants to protect a few days while he further examines evidence concerning the conviction of a man for murder that had happened just prior to A. J.'s leaving Dallas.
The victim had been a prostitute who had been an informant of AJís; he had convinced her to start life over out of town with her child. It had been her pimp who was convicted of the crime. The defense attorney had been Masiela Leal, AJís former detective partner†who had put herself through law school while working.
AJ had felt betrayed by Masiela when she took the defense side because not only had the informant become his friend, but his working relationship with Masiela had been close and he could not understand the philosophical shift from the side of law enforcer to perpetrator friendly defense. They had also had one memorable night of sex before her so-called betrayal.
Of course it is Masiela who needs protection and AJ initially refuses, even against the argument that he is the only person Donovan knows who would not betray a trust. His mind is changed when he hears a tape in which one of his former running buddies in the DPD is threatening Masiela. He then understands that the threats can only be because some of his former cop friends are involved in wrongdoing.
Thus follows the angst that occurs when two former lovers and partners are forced to spend time together. AJ had been dating a local doctor for almost a year and has gotten around to thinking about marriage. He has purchased a house he is redoing with the thoughts of a family in the background. Meanwhile, Masiela has been noticing her biological clock running and has to date done nothing about it since AJ had been the only person she would ever have considered marrying.
This bare story line is greatly enriched by Pappano's particular skill in utilizing the ambience of small town living and compelling secondary characters for increased interest. Mounting sexual tension runs at an even pace with the dramatic tension. The conclusion is not a surprise nor is it apparently the author's intent for it to be, nonetheless the read is enjoyable.