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Just Before Daybreak (Zebra Historical Romance) Mass Market Paperback – 1 Dec 2002
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Born on the wrong side of a prosperous Lake Michigan lumber town, Claire Sorenson works as a maid for handsome lumber baron Cole Garrett, and daydreams about his charmed life. With his fine home and beautiful family, he seems to lead a fairy tale existence - that is, until tragedy strikes and Cole is accused of murdering his wife. Claire knows in her heart that Cole is a kind, decent man and comes to his defence. Though Cole's entire household has deserted him, she agrees to stay on to care for his baby daughter, secretly determined to prove his innocence.
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Claire work's in Cole's household doing the heavy chores a few times a week. When you are daughter of the town drunk that is just about the best you can do. But one night Cole's wife, Priscilla, leaves Claire in charge of watching Daisy, Cole and Priscilla's 5 month old baby. The same night Cole, who was working late, tells Claire to wait in the kitchen so the driver can take her home after Priscilla gets back because it's so late, but Priscilla never comes home she's murdered.
I really enjoyed this book. The romance aspect was well done. I cheered for both Cole and Claire, and the problem keeping them apart was simple and yet extremely concrete. Claire is sweet, gentle and noble while Cole is big, burly, strong, yet sensitive and the complement each other perfectly.
The only problem I have with the book, being for the most part the mystery is clever and the romance is compelling, is there is one glaring plot hole. Tim, the driver, never showed up to take Clarie home after babysitting and she ends up falling asleep and spending almost the whole night in Cole's kitchen thereby giving Cole an alibi as to why he couldn't have killed his wife, Priscilla. The problem with that is that when we do eventually find out what happened to Tim and why he never came home with Priscilla, he explains Priscilla specifically told him not to wait and she would find her own way home. but if that was the case when Cole came in and put up his house he would have seen that the carriage and carriage horses were in the stable, being the carriage is described as being front and center in the building. Therefore, there was no reason at all to have Claire wait for Priscilla and use the carriage to get home being Cole should have known where the carriage was back and never told her to wait.
But all in all I really enjoyed this book, it moves slower than some books but I loved the steady pace and they learn to become friends before they even think about anything else, and the cross the tracks love is handled kindly and respectfully.
4 1/2 for the book but 1 star taken off because of the rather gaping plot hole so,
3 1/2 stars.
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