What do a priest; a call girl, an ex-nun and a possible murderer have in common? They are all the cast of characters in Suzanne Forster's novel, Innocence.
Mary Frances Murphy is the definition of the word "innocence". She had been training most of her life to become a nun until a sin of impunity forced her to leave the convent. When Mary Frances is visited by Blue, an old friend of her sisters, she knows that she is bringing trouble with her. But, nothing prepares Mary Frances for the news that her sister, Brianna, is dead and that Blue believes she was murdered. Mary Frances learns that Brianna had been employed by an escort service and her death seems to be connected to one of her clients - Webb Calderon. Blue had been investigating Brianna's death by becoming a call girl herself, but when her life becomes threatened she hopes to persuade Mary Frances to take her place and solve the mystery.
Mary Frances had always admired her sister for her boldness and adventurous spirit. She realizes that this is her chance to live the exciting life her sister had led and to experience everything she has been protected from. When she finds out that the man she is to investigate is none other than Webb Calderon, she knows she cannot refuse. Mary Frances had seen Webb once and had never forgotten the pull of attraction she felt or the forceful penetration of his eyes.
Webb is a troubled soul. His entire family had been killed before his eyes when he was only 9 years old and he lived through years of abuse and torture. Webb hasn't let himself feel anything for years, because he had learned the hard way that love ultimately leads to pain. However, when he sees Mary Frances, he sees everything in her that he is lacking - innocence, purity, and unbreakable strength. He isn't sure if these qualities make him want to possess or destroy her.
Mary Frances knows that Webb is possibly her sister's murder, but that doesn't stop the feelings he brings out in her. She has been trained to heal and has always been a sucker for lost causes. When she sees the pain and rage in Webb's eyes she can't help but want to cure him. Unfortunately, her desires could cost her either her innocence or maybe even her life.
The first chapter of Innocence starts out strong and leads you to believe that this will be a hot, adventure-packed story. However, even though the plot seemed promising, it never really delivered. The supporting characters, consisting of Blue - the misunderstood call girl, and Rick - the tempted priest, were involved more than necessary considering the end. Their involvement also took away some of the tension involved with Mary Frances and Webb since the story often bounced back and forth between them. Another disappointing aspect to Innocence was that although eroticism was alluded to often, we only saw one instance throughout the story that could be considered mildly erotic.
There was a lot of potential in Innocence and I have to give Suzanne Forster credit for originality since the premise of a nun turned call girl was something I hadn't come across in a romance novel before. I found Webb's character very intense and riveting, but it would have been nice to have his viewpoint of things more often to understand the motivation behind his actions. In contrast, Mary Frances' viewpoint was the one we read most often. Hers was usually a muddle of emotions and fear because she often didn't know what was going on or why. This was confusing for the reader.