The Man Behind the Badge

Virgin Without a Memory

The Lawmanís Last Stand
by Vickie Taylor
(Silh. Int. Mom. #1014, $4.50, PG) ISBN 0-373-27084-4
Taylor revisits Pine Valley, Utah, to chronicle the last stand of Interim Sheriff Shane Hightower and Dr. Gigi McGowan. A last stand against each other as they face off in an explosive love story, and a perilous stand against the very powerful enemies of the veterinarian Pine Valley knows as Gigi.

When Gigiís truck is deliberately run off a mountain road by a late model Mercedes and tumbles down the mountainside, Shane is the one to rescue her. Thinking he is responsible, she regains consciousness and comes out fighting. All of these circumstances are red flags for the DEA agent indicating that she is running from something.

Shane has been undercover as acting sheriff and had just finished cleaning up a drug operation. Burned out, he dreads each new day. Gigi, on the other hand, is merely trying to make sure that there is a next new day for her.

Three years earlier, she had witnessed the killing of a family friend in her wealthy family's stables in New York. As an eyewitness, Gigi was placed in the witness protection program, which was immediately penetrated by persons seeking to kill her.

A newly licensed veterinarian, she realized that she could not rely on law enforcement or the system to protect her. Escaping with some cash and the complicity of a retired professor, she assumed that person's identity and set up practice in Utah. The Mercedes is a grim wake up call that she has been found, and her immediate intent is to flee.

Shane catches her on her way out of town, and by this time he has used modern technology to unearth the real retired Gigi McCowan, who lives on a golf course in a nice retirement community. During their confrontation, the killers drive by, shooting at Gigi and Shane.

Shane is just a little bit smitten, and since he was shot at as well takes it personally. He develops a compulsion to get to the bottom of the mystery in order to permit Gigi to return to her real life.

The burgeoning love affair must overcome trust issues on both sides. And Shane is also aware that Gigi is still withholding information relevant to her safety -- and by extension, his. And Shane and Gigi both carry similar emotional baggage from past relationships.

Vickie Taylor does a good job balancing sexual tensions with the suspense side of the story. Although the mastermind is easy to identify from the beginning, there are some unexpected surprises before justice prevails. The Lawmanís Last Stand is well written, with varied pacing and well-developed characters and the author sustains the tension with crisp, clever dialogue. This is definitely a recommend for summer reading.

--Thea Davis

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