Review: Walking After Midnight by Karen Robards

Format: E-book
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Dell
Hero: Steve Calhoun
Heroine: Summer McAfee
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: October 1, 1995
Started On: September 3, 2010
Finished On: September 3, 2010

Walking After Midnight has the features that makes a romantic suspense novel a page turner. With unbeatable romance, a larger than life hero and a heroine who matches him in every way with mean as hell bad guys running after them, this book kept me on the edge of my seat throughout.

Summer McAfee is 36 years old, divorced from Dr. Lemuel C.Rosencrans, a urologist who had left her to get married to his 22 year old nurse. Right after high school, rather than go to college as her parents had wanted her to, she had taken the money her parents had set aside for her college and left to make her way as a lingerie model. She had always thought there would be ample enough time left to study afterwards but life happened and before she knew it, younger models were replacing her and she returned home to Murfreesboro, Tennessee in Smoky Mountains. There she had met and married Lem, who had in reality married the model that she had been and not the woman she really was. Lem had tried hard to mold her into what he wanted her to look like and Summer had let him do that for 5 long miserable years during which she had developed bulimia as a result of starving herself to look good enough for her husband. When Lem had left her with no means to support herself, Summer had done the only thing viable and used the only skill that she had developed as a housewife and started cleaning for other people. And thus her baby Daisy Fresh Janitorial Services had been born.

One of Daisy Fresh Janitorial Service’s most important clients was the Harmon Brothers, a chain of funeral homes which required that the place be cleaned up during the night. Though Summer had hired a cleaning crew of two members who had not turned up for the 2nd time that month, in the end it was Summer who had to see the job through for the night. Being alone in a funeral home was making her skin crawl with her imagination going overdrive. With the toilets scrubbed to her satisfaction, Summer is about to leave when she spies the light that is switched on in the embalming room. Knowing that her client required her to switch off all the lights before leaving the premises, Summer makes her way into the room against her better judgment.  When she sees a second uncovered body in the room with bruises all over, and sees the body move, Summer knows that she wouldn’t be able to put the incident out of her mind until she checks whether the body is dead for real. Before she knows how it happened, the bruised and naked body on the table threatens her with a wicked looking scalpel and kidnaps her from the funeral home.

Steve Calhoun had served as a detective with the Tennessee State Police until scandal had ruined him and his career. Right after high school Steve had joined the Marines and later on majored in Law Enforcement. Steve and his buddy Mitch had always been tight and together since childhood. Whilst Mitch was taller, leaner, handsomer and smoother compared to Steve who no one would describe as handsome but has an impressive body with an enigmatic presence, Mitch had been the hell raiser whilst Steve had been the dependable one of the two. When Mitch got into all sorts of trouble, it had been Steve who had born the brunt of rescuing him from whatever mishap Mitch had gotten into. When Mitch and Steve meet Deedee at a local hangout during high school, Steve is immediately drawn to her but it is with Mitch whom Deedee hopelessly falls in love with and gets married to. Even during marriage, Steve had covered for Mitch when he had cheated on Deedee. Steve had met Elaine after he left the Marines and married her who had borne him his daughter Corey. Though Steve had gone through all his life based on the motto Semper fidelis – always faithful, on a night he was drunk, he had succumbed and had sex with the lonely wife of his best buddy. Two weeks into the affair, Steve had started to feel guilt creeping in on him and had broken things off with Deedee who later committed suicide in his office leaving behind a tape which showed steamy interludes between Steve and Deedee and a note on his computer that she was committing suicide because he had broken up with her to go back to Elaine.

Needless to say, Steve had lost his job, his wife had left him and divorced him and requested for sole custody of their daughter. Steve had agreed to it all believing that he deserved it all as the punishment that befit him for what he had done. Steve had nearly lost himself in being a drunk, but the knowledge that his own daughter hated his guts had served as a splash of cold water on his face and he had  been sober ever since. Niggling doubts had arisen with his sobriety about how Deedee had died and following up on the investigation that he had been conducting when life had gone all shitty on him had ended up in him being beaten within an inch of his life and waiting to be embalmed on the table of a funeral home.

Thinking at first Summer to be in cahoots with the thugs who were after him, Steve pretty much makes Summer’s life miserable and forces her to ride along with him whilst he tries to escape the goons who were pretty much after his head. Stealing a van with two dead bodies inside it and riding off into the night with helicopters chasing after them, Summer has no choice but to go along for the ride unless she wanted to be killed. When Summer learns who Steve is and knows deep in her gut that he wouldn’t harm a hair on her head and gets more than fed up of being on the run, being the naive woman she is decides to cut her losses and go home. Though Steve warns her that the goons who were after him would probably know her identity Summer doesn’t listen and in the end they both barely manage to escape with their lives intact with the help of her mother’s dog Muffy.

Thus begins Steve and Summer’s journey for survival through the rough terrain that forms the Smoky Mountains with the whole country on the look out for them for double homicide. Things start getting interesting when despite everything that has happened, both Summer and Steve starts to feel the first stirrings of attraction between them which blazes out of control within no time. Steve who doesn’t want the hassle of a relationship finds himself more occupied with thoughts of Summer and her effect on him than clearing up his name and delving into the heart of the matter that had landed him in this precarious situation. When Summer realizes that she had fallen head over heels in love with her Frankenstein, all bets are off and she doesn’t stop until Steve too admits that what is happening between them is special.

Their plans to clear up their names go awry when the goons in question kidnap Steve’s daughter and ex-wife and hold them hostage. All along, it is the van that Steve and Summer stole in order to make their escape from the funeral home that the goons were after and the final showdown does reveal in the end the story of crooked cops and politicians who were benefiting from drug trading within the country.

Both Steve and Summer are two broken people who finds in one another the will to heal and love again. The dialogues between the two are witty and made me smile all the way through. The adventure was good enough to keep me on the edge and the romance and passion hot enough to curl my toes. Though I didn’t care much for the paranormal aspect in the book, this is an adventure worth sinking into with a few surprises in store to make it all worth towards the end.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard



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