I am a big fan of Michele Albert's books and I have always admired her character development. Though I liked both Fiona and Grif, they are not as fully realized (IMO) as I've come to expect from this author. I think perhaps this book suffers because it is a "transition" book. It closes out the (very) loosely connected trilogy of three friends introduced in GETTING HER MAN, continuing with ONE WAY OUT and now concluding with HIPS. It also serves to kick off a new series about a shadowy organization called Avalon which specializes in recovering stolen works of art, antiquities and busting forgers.
Five years prior, Griffith Laughton ran an op that went bad and several of his team were killed. Grif feels guilt over their deaths as well as a burning desire to finally put art and antiquities trafficker Rainert von Lahr (also seen in prior book OWO) behind bars where he belongs. He finally has another chance to catch his nemesis with a "lost" Christopher Marlowe manuscript. The bait must, unfortunately, also include an innocent civilian, Fiona Kennedy-MacMahon. She's an expert on Marlowe and Grif approaches her (in the guise of an attorney) with a proposition to appraise the manuscript for his client to determine if it is real or a forgery. Grif liberally pours on the charm to convince her, but then it's not so hard to flirt with this warm and very pretty redhead.
Prior to Grif entering her bookstore, Fiona had been in the process of planning a vacation in the Bahamas to kick-start her life. Her husband has just been declared legally dead (he disappeared years ago) and after five years in limbo, Fiona wants to finally live again. And now here's this gorgeous charmer offering her the opportunity to authenticate a possible Marlowe manuscript! He's the second gorgeous man to enter her shop (and flirt with her!) today what with that blond German gentleman who came in earlier. And now the charming Griffith Laughton has invited her to dinner. Perhaps her luck is changing?
Well perhaps not, for after spending a long, blissful night with Grif, Fiona learns the truth of what is going on. When they must go on the run from von Lahr and others, their forced time together allows them to get to know one another. Fiona discovers that Grif already knows pretty much everything about her while Grif reveals his growing disenchantment with the job and his desire for someplace to call home. Fiona's anger toward Grif for using her diminishes as she comes to understand and like Grif. Their mutual attraction was clear from the start, and now the question is, if they can stay alive long enough to get von Lahr, will she ever see him again?
While I enjoyed the story, I must agree with another reviewer that there were several things that were sort of left hanging and agree that perhaps there were things the reader is not meant to know? For all it's mention, in the end the manuscript did not seem to be very important. The person or persons that head up Avalon seemed to be important though I've no idea why. The revelation of what really happened to Fiona's husband was kind of anti-climatic. And the period of time that Fiona and Grif spend together is extremely short (like two or three days) so their attachment seemed a tad unrealistic. And I did wonder if Grif would be happy in the long run with the choice he made at the end.
Not her best, but still enjoyable. I look forward to her next book and to learning more about Avalon.