by Linda Howard

December 1995
ISBN: 0-671-01970-8
Reviewer Graphic Button Pocket Books
Mass Market Paperback

On the back cover of this book, Linda Howard shares her feelings about it with her readers, saying that this novel remains one of her favorites and that Faith Devlin and Gray Rouillard are two special characters. Well, I would have to agree with her, but it took a real effort to get past the first couple of chapters.

The beginning of this story takes a long, hard and savage look at the small-minded and hypocritical world of a tiny town deep in the South with its flaring passions, sordid scandals and seriously abused white trash folk. Faith Devlin is one of the youngsters who is violently impacted by the attitudes of the "landed gentry" - her slut of a mother is having a torrid affair with Guy Rouillard, the county rich man and local stud. This affair has frightening results for everyone in Faith's family and the night that everything falls apart is described in the most terrible detail! I had a tough time reading it!

Guy's son Gray assumes his father's position in the county, and also some of his attitudes, wanting nothing whatsoever to do with anyone by the name of Devlin! So it is with some anger that he confronts a grown-up Faith Devlin twelve years later, and orders her out of town. Faith, in the meantime, has made a successful life for herself, and refuses to be intimidated by Gray, even though he does everything he can think of.... even kissing her! Which turns out to be one big mistake for Gray who is becoming more and more obsessed with this exquisite and intelligent woman from the past.

Faith is a very strong and determined woman - although it was hard reading about her childhood, knowing her background made it much easier to understand her absolute dedication to a purpose and her stubbornness in refusing to give in to Gray's demands. Gray is also a strongly written character; he's sexy, sharp as a tack, and is used to getting his way in life. He's also loyal, and has very well-developed family values, many of which stem from the ripples caused by his father's affair. The secondary characters are, by turns, charming, eccentric and downright scary - in fact one of the most satisfying moments in the book comes when a daughter tells her mother what to do with "it" in no uncertain terms. I had to cheer that one!!!

The combination of the fiery and sensual romance that builds between Faith and Gray and the mysteries and scandals that unravel around them makes this a 'can't-put-it-down' read. Harsh, violent and uncomfortable at times, Linda Howard is uncompromising in her story telling, but with the result that her readers lose themselves completely in this wonderful tale. If you have chance, grab this book and set aside plenty of time to finish it because you won't be able to stop in the middle!!!

Reviewed in November 2001 by Celia.

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