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Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Hearts of the South, Book 8
Publisher: Samhain Publishing Ltd
Hero: Deputy Chris Parker
Heroine: Ruthie Chason
Date of Publication: April 7, 2009
Started On: March 5, 2010
Finished On: March 7, 2010
This is the first book that I tried from Ms. Winfree and I would have to say she is pretty good at writing romantic suspense. I seem to have started from her last book of the Hearts of the South series. I loved the characters of this series, many of whom you encounter in this story as well.
The most striking thing about this novel is how Ms. Winfree juggled two equally beautiful blossoming romances in one novel. Unlike most authors if and when in a book there are two budding romances, one tends to take the center stage and the other romance would take the backstage and any issues if any between the couple would be resolved pretty quickly. However I was delighted that this wasn’t the case in this novel.
Facing it is the story of Chris, a man who has scars left over from being in domestically abusive relationship which had nearly cost him his life. Chris doesn’t handle women in his personal space well. However all of that changes when he offers to help his friend Tick Calvert, Ruthie’s brother and Chris’s boss in looking after Ruthie and her adorable three kids who need protection from Ruthie’s controlling husband.
Ruthie had tolerated being under Stephen’s thumb as long as she could. Finally it took its toll when she saw how his controlling attitude towards everything in their family lives had taken its toll on her three children, with whom any reader is bound to fall in love with.
Unknown to Ruthie and Stephen, Stephen has been under surveillance by the FBI for shady money laundering and this is where the delicious second romance comes in. Harrell Beecham and Jennifer are the agents that have been occupying the house across from the Chason’s and keeping an eye on the family’s activities for the past year, pretending to be a married couple. The pretending stuff has been playing havoc on both Harrell and Jennifer, so much that the simmering attraction between them breaks out onto the surface when Jennifer decides to take matters into her own hands and confront Harrell with it.
Harrell is leery of commitment from growing up with a mother who has 8 failed marriages under her belt. Reluctant in believing that any relationship that Harrell is part of could end up in any other way except in disaster, Harrell doesn’t want to give into the intense feelings that Jennifer tends to rouse in him. However in Jennifer, Harrell has met his match for stubbornness and ultimately Harrell has no choice but to give in to the need that has been hounding him ever since they became partners. However the road towards ultimate happiness between these two characters isn’t a smooth one either. I loved how Ms. Winfree gave time for each of her characters to work through their issues so that the ending was sweeter and better for the reader.
Meanwhile, Chris and Ruthie slowly find one another as well. Ruthie having witnessed how cruel a controlling man in her life could be, is still willing to give Chris with his gentle yet skittish nature the chance to get to know her and ultimately give into the hot attraction that flares between these two and catches both of them unawares. Chris has his own frightening issues to work out and Ruthie remains patient throughout all this, which made me really admire Ruthie as a heroine, which is a rare thing for me.
I liked the fact that Ms. Winfree didn’t try to garner the reader’s sympathy for Ruthie by going on and on about how Stephen’s abusive behavior had shattered Ruthie and so on, but gave Ruthie a fighting chance to become a beautiful and strong character that any reader would empathize and root for.
Great book, I might give a go at reading the other books in the series some other time.
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