Witness…and Wife?
by Kate Stevenson
(Silh. Int. Mom. #984, $4.50, PG) ISBN 0-373-07964-2
***
Reporter Cassie Bowers is found unconscious in Judge Wainright's chambers in the Boulder, Colorado, Justice Center. The judge is dead, and when Cassie wakes up in the hospital she finds her former husband, Detective Luke Slater, by her bedside. She has no memory beyond the fact that she responded to the Judge's request to meet him.

Cassie had been working on a series addressing white collar drug trafficking and money laundering, and Judge Wainright had been helping her gather information for her story. The police decide that she is at risk and Luke volunteers to pull the guard duty, as well as investigate the crime.

This doesn't suit Cassie since she has never really gotten over Luke, although she was the one who walked out on him. During their marriage, Cassie had resisted the strong firm guiding hands of her father, her many brothers and Luke. Luke, who grew up in a family where he was the ultimate caretaker, saw in law enforcement an opportunity to continue this role on a grander scale. During their marriage, he was ultra protective.

The denouement came when a pregnant Cassie insisted on interviewing a jailed prisoner even though Luke forbade it. When the prisoner escaped, taking Cassie hostage, Luke authorized a police chase. After the car crashed, Luke blamed himself for authorizing the chase and Cassie blamed herself for not listening. A divorce followed.

Fast-forward two years, and Luke moves in to guard Cassie when verbal threats begin escalating to acts of violence. And, of course, the romance between Luke and Cassie reignites.

While this plot line is old, what is different about this scenario is that the author takes the time to flesh out the characters and account for the growth caused by a great loss. The characters have a lot of depth and their dialogue is crisp and strong. The plot is well constructed, although it suffers from a not too credible police investigation, and an additional not too credible thread where judges furnish transcripts of a trial directly to a reporter.

The discovery of the criminal is far too easy, because Luke limits his suspects to three or four people. Given the number of enemies judges make in their sentencing capacity, this seems pretty incredible.

In summary, the romance is stronger than one might expect, given the plot line, and the suspense ingredient is weaker, resulting in a three heart rating.

--Thea Davis


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