A widow finds new love and falls into a web of danger and intrigue.
At 40, Ellen Johnson enjoys a comfortable life near Charlotte, North Carolina, with a loving husband, Mike, and two young daughters. Christmas Day is typically full of family celebrations for the Johnsons, but when Ellen is too ill to travel, Mike and their daughters decide to visit family as scheduled. The trip ends in tragedy when all three are killed by a drunken driver. Grief-stricken, Ellen tries to rebuild her life. As her wedding anniversary approaches, she travels to Atlantic City, where no one knows about the accident. While playing solitaire in a casino, she is approached by a good-looking stranger who asks her to dance. Startled, but flattered, she accepts and learns his name is Kristopher Erickson. He’s a private investigator working on a case. Kristopher and Ellen embark on a whirlwind courtship and elope. A promising new life soon turns dangerous when Ellen is kidnapped. The aftermath tests their relationship and draws Ellen to two other men who may provide the safety and security she needs. Brown’s debut offers fast-paced romantic suspense with appealing leads and several unpredictable plot turns. Inconsistent editing, however, can be annoying. For example, Southern Belle is spelled “Southern Bell,” and “grave sights” appears instead of gravesites. Still, Ellen is a dynamic heroine, forced to forge a new identity, and the relationships she develops with all three leads are well-observed. Brown takes care to develop meaningful details throughout the novel: a rose tattoo is one whimsical detail that yields unexpected rewards.
A fun and escapist, if error-prone, high-stakes romance.