A small Tennessee mountain town is awash in sex and scandal in Belle’s first novel.
Gia Andrews, a disaster relief worker, is also a convicted murderer’s daughter. Her father, Ray, was convicted of killing his wife and Gia’s stepmother, Ella Mae, and sentenced to life in prison. But Ray is dying, and prison officials are releasing him on compassionate grounds; Gia’s uncle Cal, a prominent lawyer, has recruited her to return home from Kenya to care for her dad in his home in Rogersville. Despite the fact that she hasn’t seen her father since she left many years ago, she returns, believing her brother, Bo, and sister, Lexi, will help her, but she finds that neither wants anything to do with their father. Her nearest allies turn out to be the home-care worker Uncle Cal has hired, Fannie, and the new man she meets, a bar-and-grill owner named Jake. When Gia meets a law professor planning to write a book about wrongful convictions, he tells her he believes Ray didn’t kill Ella Mae and that Cal, who was Ray’s attorney, didn’t mount much of a defense. After looking into these allegations, Gia discovers her stepmother had an affair with another man and wonders whether her father could be innocent after all. While trying to unravel the mystery of who really killed Ella Mae, things heat up between Gia and Jake, and suddenly the mystery takes a whole new direction. Belle’s a smooth writer whose characters are vibrant and truly reflect the area where the novel is set, but the plot—while clever—takes a back seat to Gia’s and Ella Mae’s separate, but equally steamy, sexual exploits.
Thriller fans will find so much space devoted to Gia and Jake’s sexual acrobatics that little time is left for the plot to develop.