When Jesse Crane returned to his roots to serve on the Miccosukee police force, he'd hoped to leave behind the violence of the city and the memories of his murdered wife. But bodies start to pile up in Jesse's corner of the sultry Florida swampland. As he probes these crimes, Jesse is drawn to the beautiful Lorena Fortier, a new hire at the local gator farm and research facility. Lorena is a little too interested in Jesse's investigation, but before he can uncover her true motives, they're both pulled into a dangerous web of greed, ambition, and animal cunning.
"2 books in one"
Rick Thomas stole drug-cartel evidence from a government facility. And spent three years in a federal prison. Attorney Erin Morgan has a rule: never defend the bad guys. But Rick Thomas, quiet and self-assured, doesn't seem bad. That's why she agrees to defend him against what he swears is a trumped-up murder charge. She's ignoring her experience and listening to her instincts instead. But psychologist and expert witness Kelly Chapman is listening to her instincts, too....
Sam Montford left Shelter Valley 10 years ago. He's a direct descendant of the town's founder, the first Samuel Montford, and for him, Shelter Valley's expectations had become oppressive. Home had become smothering instead of sheltering. Sam returns to the town - and to his ex-wife, Cassie Tate - with a seven-year-old child. This is a complete shock to Cassie. When Sam left, he hadn't known she was pregnant. Or that she had lost their baby.
Jane's rule about marriage: if at first you don't succeed, don't try again. A bigamist ex-husband, an anonymous stalker, a murder inquiry. Magazine editor Jane Hamilton is not having a good month. But with the support of her best friend, Brad Manchester, she's coping--until they become lovers and Brad complicates things even more by proposing marriage. Brad understands Jane's fears, but he's ready for a wife and family, ready to move forward. Especially when he finds out she's pregnant with his child.
Kelly Chapman, psychologist and expert witness. She's unattached, but 100-percent committed to her clients, her foster child, her friends. Clay Thatcher, FBI special agent: Missing Persons. A loner and, like Kelly, he too is unattached but 100-percent committed to his job and only his job. That's why he's in Chandler, Ohio. Kelly Chapman has disappeared. Is it because she testified against someone who now wants revenge? Or is she the fourth victim of a killer responsible for three recent deaths?
Mark Heber accepts a mysterious scholarship to a prominent college in Shelter Valley, Arizona. Being a mature student is a big change from his hardscrabble life in the mountains of West Virginia, one that could transform his whole future. For attorney Adrianna Keller, Shelter Valley is the scene of a childhood tragedy and she returns for one reason only - her loyalty to college president Will Parsons. Somebody's blackmailing him.
They say big-city problems don't happen here. They're wrong. That's why psychologist Kelly Chapman is so concerned about 14-year-old Maggie Winston. She's a straight-A student who's developed a sudden interest in an older man. A man she knows only as Mac. Deputy Samantha Jones, Kelly's longtime friend, is worried, too. She has been ever since a local businessman killed his wife and then himself.... are these things connected?
The quintessential small-town girl with her nose in a book, Tara Gumser had never been kissed when she met Tim Barney on her first day in college. Tara fell hard and fast for the hunky tennis ace, and she dreamed of sharing the rest of her life with him. And while Tim was wild for this gifted young woman who was certain of one destiny - to pen her own Harlequin romances some day - he wasn't quite as ready to commit as young Tara.