The live-In lover is Damien Perry, an FBI agent nearing burnout. Injured, he shares a hospital room with fellow FBI agent Ford Jensen. Ford and Damien were introduced in Beauty and the Badge, in which Damien was arguably the bad guy. While in the hospital he meets Ford’s sister, Molly, and spends less than a half an hour in her company. .
Molly Jensen had testified against her former husband when he assaulted her. Now her ex has been released from his two-year prison term and has started stalking her. Since her brother, Ford, is out of the country, she appeals to Damien for help, believing him to be a close friend of Ford’s.
Damien receives this letter requesting help while on vacation on a rented boat. He remembers her with a twinge of lust, and heads to Nashville immediately to protect her and her infant daugher, Sydney. Stone portrays Damien as so pathetically lonely that he reaches out to an almost total stranger just to have an opportunity to “belong.”
When he arrives in Nashville he finds that the stalker is the son of a very wealthy family and that all of the police reports Molly has filed are being viewed with a great deal of skepticism. Now, the stalker has progressed from merely stalking to creating life-threatening incidents, and Damien quickly realizes that Molly has good reason to be fearful. .
To better protect her, he of course moves in, thereby exacerbating an already volatile situation. Predictably, the threats and attacks begin to mount…and as their defense begins to shift to the offense, their mutual attraction begins to accelerate.
To Stone’s credit, she has created interesting characters. However, the pall of angst suffered by Damien because he was orphaned and had no one to teach him how to love gets a bit gloomy.
Damien was reared by a wealthy relative of his parents in England and eventually inherited a great deal of money. Molly perceives this class distinction as an insurmountable barrier, and realizing they have nothing in common, and that he has no interest in a long-term relationship, forces herself to withdraw emotionally from their relationship. The romance proceeds along these lines, first leaping forward, then back.
Live-in-Lover contains a serious analysis of stalkers. Although it is a reach to call these people sane or predictable, still the author seems to hit the traits that most of them have in common. The effect the escalating threats have upon the victim is handled well in this book.
The author evokes a great deal of empathy for a stalked victim, and the actions of the stalker seem to be very realistic. However, to achieve so much in a short novel, the author relies on contrivances. And set in the middle of all of this is the angst of a wealthy good looking single man who has so much going for him that it is hard to be sympathetic.
However, the sweltering romance and concern for the characters may override these difficulties for some readers.