With her customary offbeat setting and flair for the supernatural, Krentz (Absolutely Positively, 1996, etc.) offers a tale that depends heavily on the other elements in her standard formula: one-part romance, one-part mystery, with a dash of sex and adventure for good measure. It's Charity Truitt's elaborate, lavish engagement party in downtown Seattle and everyone's having a good time except for Charity. She suddenly realizes that she doesn't care that Brett Loftus is such a great guy or that their marriage would put the final stamp on the merger between the department store chain she's inherited from her mother and stepfather and Brett's family's company--Loftus Athletic Gear. Charity really wants true love and is willing to wait for it, so she runs out on the party, leaving her stepbrother and sister (not to mention hapless Brett) in utter shock and comes to rest in the isolated community of Whispering Waters Cove. Her newfound career managing a bookstore is a far cry from her executive roots, and it's clear she won't be satisfied with small-town life indefinitely. But excitement comes knocking on her door soon enough in the form of Elias Winters, a strikingly handsome man with sea-gray eyes and an uncertain past, who appears mysteriously and takes over Charms & Virtues, a ``junk shop'' owned by the recently departed Hayden Stone. Unbeknownst to Cove folk, Elias has just come from the climactic resolution of a lifelong trauma--avenging his deceased father, whose business success was thwarted by the evil Garrick Keyworth. Charity and Elias don't share much about their pasts, but they do fall in love. Then a series of violent deaths causes them to realize that there's more going on in Whispering Waters than they'd imagined; their quest to uncover the inner-workings of the community forces them to learn- -and then face--each other's complicated histories. Intermittently hokey and unsurprising, but, still, with an appealing drive.