Saturday, March 13, 2010

Smooth Talkin' Stranger by Lorraine Heath *****

I feel great when I happen onto a new-to-me author and love her writing! This is the 2nd in the series, and this one stars Mrs. Neighbor from Hard Lovin' Man, whose actual name is Serena Hamilton. Serena's husband was killed while overseas in the military, before their child was even born. She and Jack from that book were raising their children together, helping each other out with what from the outside looked like parental duties, as though they were one family. But Jack was besotted with his high school teacher (see Hard Lovin' Man) and Serena had been celibate since Steve died.

The truth that she and Jack were never to be started the ball rolling, but when her mother dies, her grief drives her to a rather desperate measure - she dresses up and heads for a bar near her parents' home, drinks too much and goes home with a stranger. When she screams out a name at the height of passion, it's Steve, her dead husband. She doesn't even know the stranger's name.

Hunter Fletcher is another romance-novel-cliche heroes: something dark and undercover with the CIA. You know, if he told you what he did for a living, he'd have to kill you. He'd been out on a mission some years ago, got caught by the enemy and rescued by the military. A young soldier had died on that rescue mission, and had given him a matchbook from a bar near where he lived called Paradise. Hunter went there and built a home in the country near there, where he could go while not doing The Secret Job. He never got close to women - he just picked them up in bars. He preferred married women - they were usually just looking to hurt their husbands, not for a relationship. So when he saw the look on Serena's face, and the wedding ring on her finger, he figured she was a safe bet.

And then she screamed her husband's name.

Once again, author Heath put in some cliches and some curve balls and wrote a wonderful romantic story. The hero is drawn to the heroine, and on the 2nd time they meet, he asks her, "what did your husband do to you?", her answer is unexpected (by him - we the readers already know) "He died." I loved that scene! When they finally learn each others names, he puts 2 and 2 together - and there's now another big secret between them.

Between that and his Black Ops Secret Covert CIA Job, Hunter's between a rock and a hard place - now he wants a woman and a life and a family, things that make his "I could be killed on every job I do" attitude change.

And wait - did I mention that the reason Serena and Jack were neighbors is because Jack served in the military with Steve and was with him on the mission where Steve was killed?

Would Jack recognize Hunter?????

I loved it! Really, it was just another cliche-ridden romance novel, well-written and moving and with a Happy Ever After for Hunter and Serena and her kid and Jack and Kelley and their kids (all THREE of them). I could put it down and smile and feel good. That's why I read romance! 5 stars.

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