20/1 - I was surprised to find that I really enjoyed this. It was a little light on the romance and a little heavy on the preachiness. So, really late in the story Parker and Rainie have sex and continue to do so frequently for at least a couple of weeks, but then Rainie says that she doesn't want to move in with Parker until they are married, that the real Rainie would never live with a man without being married to him, despite the fact that it would be beneficial to her safety if she were living at the secure ranch instead of her rundown apartment. She's happy to keep sleeping with him at her apartment because their being sneaky about it, but if she moves in with him that will be like shoving their already consummated relationship in everyone's face. This sounds more than a little hypocritical to me and I hate hypocrisy, even in fictional romances. That is why I was surprised to enjoy this enough to read all night till 4:30 the next morning, leaving only 64 pages to read today.
Rainie Hall was desperate! If she didn’t escape her abusive husband, Peter Danning, she was certain he would kill her, perhaps in the same way that he murdered his other two wives. Rainie’s friends help her and she flees to the small town of Crystal Falls, Oregon, a place where she hopes Peter will never find her.
With her borrowed funds rapidly dwindling, Rainie takes a job on a horse ranch run by handsome Parker Harrigan. Harrigan hires her as his accountant, but Rainie’s skittishness puzzles him. She seems to be terrified of her own shadow and men frighten her for some reason. Parker does a background check and quickly realizes most of what is on Rainie’s job application is a lie, a fable meant to deceive him into hiring her.
Parker is angry and upset with himself for trusting her. He was really beginning to like Rainie and eagerly looked forward to their impromptu discussions. When the truth comes out, however, Parker realizes Rainie is a woman on the run, someone desperately in need of a champion. Chivalrous Parker Harrigan would never turn from a woman in trouble.
Parker and Rainie contact the authorities, who stage an elaborate plan to use Rainie as bait to trap Peter Danning. The FBI has the serial killers’ monikers and present a web of entrapment to fit the profile. Unfortunately, Peter is a serial killer with a twist - a twist that may very well spell the end of both Rainie and Parker. Will Peter succeed in cornering Rainie despite the FBI’s precautions or will Rainie somehow find the strength to fight for her own life and for a love she cannot deny?
Anyone who has been involved in or has witnessed an abusive relationship will identify with the characters in this book. Catherine Anderson has captured the incredible amount of damage that can be done to those victimized by their abusers. The toll goes well beyond the broken bones and bruises and into the psyche itself. Normalcy is twisted into some dull aberration, trust disappears and concept of self is beaten down relentlessly until only a glimmer of the former individual glows in the farthest reaches of the mind. I applaud Ms. Anderson’s portrayal of the slow, gradual healing process as well and the incredible restraint and love that must be shown by those who seek to bring the victims back into the light.
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