From New York Times bestselling author Karen Robards, whom Newsweek magazine calls “one of the most popular voices in women’s fiction,” comes a thrilling novel of romantic suspense set in a sultry small southern town.
Carly Linton returns to her hometown of Benton, Georgia, to open a bed-and-breakfast in the house she inherited from her grandmother. She’s also dead-set on burying her former good-girl image—by seducing the one man who can give her a guided tour of the wild side...Matt Converse, the local sheriff, was once the town’s bad boy who shared one magical night with Carly at her senior prom. But igniting the sparks of the past can lead to a blaze of danger: First her house is burglarized, then someone comes after her. A mysterious enemy wants Carly out of Benton for good, and now she needs Matt more than ever—to keep her alive.
Like the junkyard mongrel who plays a pivotal role in the plot, this latest by the prolific Robards is a mix of breeds: Southern gothic, suspense and rough-and-tumble romance. It is sweltering summer when recently divorced spitfire Carly Linton returns to smalltown Benton, Ga., to open a bed and breakfast in the Victorian mansion she has inherited from her grandmother. She, her pet cat Hugo and her formidable business partner, world-class cook Sandra, arrive on a rainy midnight to find the electricity off and evidence of a prowler. When Carly runs screaming away, she is pinned to the ground by hunky Sheriff Matt Converse, who just happens to be in the area. Matt was Carly's hero in high school, but he treated her the way he treated his three younger sisters until prom night, when he succumbed to her wiles and regretted it. He ignored her thereafter and 12 years later she hasn't forgiven him, though she still finds him irresistibly attractive. Persistent harassment by the prowler, who seems to be a stalker, lands Carly a police escort. With Matt following her everywhere, she is mostly safe from violent attack, but must endure Matt's less-than-romantic attentions ("She wasn't the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen. Hell, she wasn't even the most beautiful woman he'd ever fucked"). The appearance of a stray dog dubbed Annie provides comic relief and also yields clues to the stalker's identity it seems Carly's not the first woman he's targeted. Robards is a lively storyteller, but some readers may be taken aback by Carly and Matt's earthy courtship ("Carly was visited by a moment of extreme thankfulness that... she'd had her breasts enhanced") and the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink plotting. 6-city author tour.