by Nora Roberts

January 1992 reissue April 2000
ISBN: 0-553-29597-7
Reviewer Graphic Button Bantam Books
Mass Market Paperback

Nora Roberts revisits one of her favorite themes in this book: that of a weary and exhausted woman seeking solace in a place from her past. Here, it's concert violinist Caroline Waverly who has turned her back on the whirlwind pace of a concert career (and a rotten relationship with her lover, not to mention her overbearing mother). Caroline has come to her grandparents' old home in Innocence, Mississippi, to find a little time for peaceful introspection - and to "get her act together" so to speak. Unfortunately, she doesn't know that there is a brutal killer on the loose - and the targets? Women!

Ms. Roberts presents these types of heroines with verve and unhesitating confidence - we are locked into Caroline's heart and mind within the first few pages of meeting her. The same criteria apply to the heroes that simply have to be in the right neighborhood to offer our heroine some of what she needs, and Innocence boasts the talented romantic skills of one Tucker Longstreet, wealthy member of the Longstreet family who seem to have owned most of Innocence forever.

Of course, just as soon as we think we know where this story is headed - we're off in another direction and meeting new characters with issues and adventures of their own. One of the things I love most about Nora Roberts' books is the amazing number of layers within the characters within the chapters - there is always something new and unexpected jumping up and waving at a surprising moment. So it is with this tale, which runs the gamut from lighthearted sensuality and flirtatious romance to brutal and savage violence without missing a beat. Even racial attitudes are given a workout as the residents of Innocence try to come to terms with the idea of a serial killer in their midst, and Caroline introduces her own liberated beliefs to less-than-liberal minds!

Over all the twists and turns of this story runs the love affair that builds between Tucker and Caroline. Totally unsuited for each other on the surface, events reveal the laid-back good ol' boy Tucker to be a great deal more, and that Caroline's life in the vortex of high society has prepared her surprisingly well to handle Mississippi living. The sparks fly early and often when these two brush up against each other, and it's a sure bet that Tucker is going to brush up against the lovely Caroline as often as he can! What a joy watching these two slip ever deeper into each other's lives with each passing event, both good and bad. It's not long before just about everybody realizes that they're going to be perfect for each other, but of course it takes the two lovers a bit longer and a few more adventures to fully understand their hearts!

The plot is extremely well developed with an ending that is a shocking surprise - if you missed this book when it was first released, I'm happy to suggest the current reissue - romantic suspense is never better than when it has Nora Roberts' name on it!

Reviewed in January 2002 by Celia.

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