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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Twice Burned

****½ Twice Burned by Jan Coffey. Romantic suspense.

This is the second romantic suspense book by JanCoffey, following Trust Me Once. They're only loosely connected, though, so it's not a problem to read one without the other.

Lea Hardy has returned to Stonybrook for the first time in 20 years. Then, she'd left to escape the memories of her parents' murder/suicide; now she'd back because of other murders: her brother Ted is on death row following the murder of his estranged wife and his two daughters. Lea can't believe he's guilty, but Ted is so depressed by the deaths that he refuses to defend himself. Lea is trying to fix up and sell the family home to raise money for his defense. She's also received anonymous letters proclaiming Ted's innocence and telling her to come back to Stonybrook to learn the truth.

But Lea's hardly welcomed back with open arms. The townspeople turn their backs on her and even the sheriff blames her when she's attacked. Except for her next-door neighbor Mick Conklin and his troubled teenage daughter Heather.

Lea and Mick fall in love while unraveling the mystery and helping Heather. The various threads intertwine and balance nicely, making for a satisfying, complete-feeling read. The romance was convincing, and the solution of the mystery was believable and surprising. One character (avoiding spoilers here) didn't face as serious consequences as I'd hoped for, but even that was realistic, though annoying.

I have Jan Coffey's latest in my TBR pile, and I've put the next book in this series, Triple Threat, on my to-look-for list.

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