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After Midnight Mass Market Paperback – 1 Feb 2003
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Lt. Col Jess Blackwell has come back home to Florida after being stationed at Eglin AFB. She left Florida as a child in the middle of the night and has not returned since. Her childhood was not picture perfect and she found herself constantly getting into fights protecting her mother's name. Now Jess is all grown up and has a respectable job but the past comes back to haunt her.
Steve Paxton in the Sheriff of the county that Jess has just moved back to. It's a quite part of the Florida Panhandle so it raises eyebrows when bodies start turning up dead in his little corner of the world. It's even more so when one of the deaths lead him to Jess Blackwell. His cop sense tells him that she is connected in someway but the man in him wants it to be anyone but her. She is the first woman that he has been attracted to since his divorce.
Jess and Steve find themselves drawn to each other even though they both know that it's not in their best interest to act on their mutual attraction. Despite the complications of the investigations that Steve is running, and the connections that Steve finds to tie Jess to the string of murders he still can't stay away. One way or another he will prove that Jess is innocent of the murders, and prove to Jess that loving him is not a bad thing.
This was a fast paced book that I managed to inhale in one day. The mystery surrounding the deaths of the the diffent men that are connected to Jess's past is well written and will keep you glued to the pages. The chemestry between Jess and Steve is hot and steamy! This was a great blending of suspense and romance!
Walton County Sheriff Steve Paxton visits Jessica to ask her about her relationship with local realtor Ron Clark, who apparently committed suicide. His wife who found the body says his last words she heard was his mentioning Blackwell. Jessica informs the law enforcement official she met Clark once to pick up the keys to this home. Other murders follow with the link between the dead being what happened to Jessica's mother, making Steve wonder if he has fallen in love with a vengeful killer.
The Commander in Chief of military romantic suspense is Merline Lovelace. Her latest tale, AFTER MIDNIGHT, would gain her the US Senate's consent as the sub-genre leader. The key characters are three-dimensional whether they are Air Force or civilian while the support players either provides insight into the area, the military, or the lead couple. The who-done-it is a delightful police procedural as Steve battles between his heart swearing Jessica is innocent and his brain saying she is the connection. Another five star novel by an author whose books always soar with the best.
Ironically, a quarter of a century later, she finds herself back in her home town as the result of a military promotion, and not long after that, attracted to the sexy sherriff who comes knocking on her door late one night. Dead bodies have begun turning up, and Jessica is the thread that connects them all, and she is the one person with the most obvious motive for wanting these men dead. Being drawn to the prime suspect is something Steve Paxton had never counted on, especially not when his heart still bears scars from a messy divorce.
Jessica might be the prime suspect, but the real killer wants her dead as well. As the two delve into the past, though, they begin to wonder if there might be a future for them. They have to survive first however.
***** Taughtly drawn and highly emotional, this novel is on a par with Sandra Brown's earliest and best work, and surpasses that of the current queens of military fiction. Both hero and heroine are all that you could want in a starring couple, equal in toughness, and also in vulnerability. Jessica and Steve work so well together that you wish that they might become the central couple in a series, ala Eve and Roarke. *****
Reviewed by Amanda Killgore.