After twenty-four years of radio silence, Martine Broussard once more sees Pauline, one of the four friends who'd abandoned their home town after a night gone awry. That same night Pauline is killed, her heart removed. The primary detectives on the case are Jack Murphy and his partner James "Jimmy" DiBiase, the man Martine loathes most.
But it's that same man who brings her comfort, offers his shoulder for her to lean and cry on, and vows to keep her safe no matter what, especially after they learn one other friend out of the four had ended up like Pauline.
I loved this one. As it happened with her short story A Family for Christmas, this one also had a mature, adult feel. There was no juvenile behavior (unless you count the hero's nonchalant, womanizing mask—which the heroine learns is really just a façade), the "misunderstanding" (if you want to call it that) was put to rest without much ado, the two communicated...The hero and heroine actually acted like adults, appropriate to their age.
And their romance was a real treat to behold. It progressed slowly, realistically, and as they got to know one another (well, as Martine got to know the depths of Jimmy's character) so the reader got to know them, root for them, and wish them the best.
The second big thumbs-up goes to the suspense angle of the plot. The mystery was intriguing, the red-herrings perfectly placed to keep the reader guessing and playing detective...The final reveal was quite a surprise, yet the motive was a bit of a let-down. I expected more than just a crazy person's crazy motivation.
Speaking of let-downs...The heroine's dipping her toes into the TSTL ocean was the second blemish on this otherwise great story.