Setting: Holy Oaks, Iowa, present day
Sensuality rating: 4
New York Times bestselling author Julie Garwood breaks new ground in her first contemporary suspense novel. Long-time fans of Garwood will be amazed at the way the queen of historical romance weaves this tale of love as it blossoms in the face of extreme danger. FBI agent Nick Buchanan is about to take his first vacation in three years when he receives a phone call from his best friend and former college roommate, Father Tom Madden. Tom relates the horrifying tale of a confession that he heard from a killer seeking absolution for a gruesome crime he has yet to commit. Worse yet, the madman, who calls himself the Heartbreaker, confesses that his intended victim is Laurant Madden, Tom's gorgeous younger sister. The Heartbreaker is crazy about Laurant--really, really crazy.
When Tom and Nick break the news to Laurant, she is furious at the disruption the psycho is causing in her very busy life. With her best friend's wedding rapidly approaching and Laurant's own business set to open in two weeks, there couldn't be a worse time to be stalked. But when she learns that the Heartbreaker has already broken into her home and watched her sleep, she reluctantly agrees to Nick's protection, even if it means that she's thrown together with her brother's all-too-sexy friend all day--and all night. Nick, posing as Laurant's fiancé, heads back with her to Holy Oaks. There he encounters a strange cast of characters, the likes of which are grown only in small towns where everybody knows everybody's business--except whether one of them might be a serial killer. Along the way, Nick and Laurant also discover their own hunger for each other. Readers will love the change of pace for perennial favorite Garwood. She creates a sensational story with a truly explosive conclusion. --Alison Trinkle
From Publishers Weekly
"Bless me Father, for I will sin." In her first contemporary suspense thriller, Garwood, better known for best-selling romantic fiction (Ransom; the Clayborne Brides trilogy; etc.), explodes out the narrative gate, but delivers more romance than suspense. While waiting for test results to determine if he needs another round of chemotherapy, Father Thomas Madden is the guest of Monsignor McKindry at Our Lady of Mercy Church in Kansas City. He offers to sit in for McKindry in the confessional. When a mocking voice seeks the good father's prayers to prevent him from murdering the priest's own sister, Laurant Madden, panic quickly sets in. The faceless voice behind the screen admits to a previous murder and also knows about Father Tommy's cancer. Tommy quickly calls FBI agent Nicholas Buchanan (Tommy's best friend since childhood) and asks him to track down the madman and protect his sister. Laurant has never met Nick before, but is instantly attracted to him. The two fake falling in love to flush out the murderer, but the pretense is short-lived. Some members of the chorus provide amusing turnsAmost notably outspoken elderly sisters Bessie Jean and Viola Vanderman, who serve up casseroles and counsel safe sex. Garwood's writing is strongest where affairs of the heart are concerned. If the thriller aspect of the novel fails to ignite, the sexual pas de deux between Nick and Laurant delivers sufficient smolder for Garwood's fans. Major ad/promo; 16-city author tour. (July)
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