|When Atlanta-based journalist Robin Stuart learns that the recent
murders of three policemen point to police collusion with the
Southern Mafia, she realizes she finally has her chance to make it
big. Aware of all the risks involved, she writes an article accusing
a small county sheriff and some of his officers. Her work earns her
not only the ire of local law enforcement, but also the attention of
the Atlanta FBI and in particular agent Ben Taylor. They too want
their chance at breaking a powerful drug ring. While Ben tries to
persuade Robin to give him a name and she clings to her professional
ethics, they both battle against their attraction for each other.
After a disastrous first marriage, Ben believes he isnít cut out for
wedlock. He is convinced his own inability to connect with others may
be responsible for pushing his wife away. Ambitious and career-
minded, she threw herself into her job as an undercover drug agent.
She became so involved with the lifestyle she developed a habit and
eventually overdosed. She is still in rehab, and a guilty Ben
continues to foot her bill. With a past like that, no wonder he
shies away from women, and especially committed professional ones.
Yet he canít help liking and admiring Robin. Nor can he get rid of
the urge to protect her. Despite the distance she puts between them,
he watches over her and is conveniently close when she is nearly
burned alive and again when she is almost shot.
Determined to keep her promise to her source, Robin has to deal with
threats against herself and her family and pressure from the FBI. To
top it all, she learns that the FBI might have a mole. This makes it
even harder for her to trust Ben. What with the lust they feel for
each other, it makes any relationship between them not only difficult
but also unadvisable and unlikely. As the danger escalates, Robin and
Ben have to decide whether they should remain true to their
professions or trust their instincts and each other.
The complicated characters and the ethical conflicts
they face are part of the appeal of this romantic suspense novel. No
mention is made of Robinís breath-taking looks, mouth-watering
cleavage and mile-high legs (on the contrary, sheís not only plain;
sheís also struggling with crutches and scars caused from a recent
car accident). Itís her committed professionalism, her unflinching
resolve not to shirk responsibility and her downright decency that
make her a credible and admirable heroine. Meanwhile, Ben has to come
to terms with his inability to connect emotionally. His development
is rarely forced, and his personal growth adds layers to the story.
As a whole, the novel deftly balances the romance and the suspense
plots. Despite everything that keeps them apart, Ben and Robin share
the same solid core and honest streak. This makes both their
hesitations and their eventual triumph all the more plausible. A fair
number of complications and twists prevent the characters from
brooding too long over everything that holds them apart.
Consequently, we remain throughout as interested in the outcome of
their investigation as in their possible future together. Given this
complicated set-up, I found the ending rushed and couldnít help
feeling deprived of some crucial action. But all in all, Tempting the Devil is a finely crafted book, written by someone who, for all her numerous accolades and her many years of experience, is still working hard to master new tricks.