by Jayne Ann Krentz

February 1997
ISBN: 0-671-52419-4
Reviewer Graphic Button Pocket Books

Jayne Ann Krentz has at least twenty bestsellers to her credit and this book shows exactly why she is so popular. Set in one of her favorite environments, a small coastal town in the Northwest, Ms. Krentz pulls out all the stops to tell the tale of Charity Truitt and Elias Winters.

When high-powered corporate executive Charity Truitt has a severe anxiety attack on the evening her engagement is to be announced, the world believes that Ms.Truitt, President of Truitt's Department Store, Seattle, has finally gone over the edge. In actual fact, Charity has only reached the edge, but would have gone over had she married the adorable mountain of a man, Brett Loftus, to whom she was engaged. She realized just in time that she couldn't live with a husband who gave her panic attacks every time he took her in his arms. There are some things a five-foot four-inch woman doesn't need!

Escaping to a little town called Whispering Cove, Charity opens a bookstore and settles down to enjoy a quiet, untroubled life among the oddball assortment of shopkeepers on Crazy Otis Landing - the local picturesque assemblage of tourist traps! Untroubled, that is, until the owner of Crazy Otis Landing dies and the new owner, quiet and unassuming Elias Winters, arrives to take over his store. The town council is insistent that Crazy Otis Landing could be much more up-market and is bent on raising rents, renaming it to something more trendy and generally being as stupid as only local politicians can be. The new owner, however, has something to say on the matter.

Elias Winters has his own secrets, one of which is that he is immediately attracted to Charity. His philosophy, "The Way of the Water", is full of Confucius-like proverbs and sayings (you gotta love an author who can make you believe in this stuff, and Jayne Ann gets you completely hooked!). Charity is amazed that beneath that contemplative surface lurks a passionate and amazingly sensual man. The battle he wages trying to balance his escalating feelings for Charity against his Water teachings makes for wonderful reading. Charity has no doubts that she is falling head-over-heels in love with this man (he fits her just right), but is not sure where Elias stands in their relationship. Her business sense and practicality make it difficult for her to believe that Elias can love her unconditionally.

Of course there are plenty of other things going on while Elias and Charity are quietly beginning their affair. A group of space-alien worshipping crazies are setting up camp to await the arrival of their promised trip to the stars; the politicians believe Elias is in town to broker a big real estate deal with a Pacific Rim financial interest, and the locals are keeping a protective eye on Charity who has become one of their own! To top it all off, Elias and Charity stumble across a murder!

The deft way in which Ms. Krentz blends all these terrific storylines into one masterful novel defines a good romance. At no time do we lose sight of Elias and Charity; their relationship is an integral part of all the goings-on in Whispering Cove, but it doesn't overwhelm the rest of what is an extraordinarily good plot. Both Elias and Charity are fun characters with their own eccentricities (your stomach may rumble when you read about the meals these two cook) and it is difficult to let them go at the end of this very satisfying book. Very much a five-star romance - don't miss out on this one!

Reviewed in August 2001 by Celia.

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