Zach Miller’s got a job to do here. The ex-cop, who now runs a private security firm, has been hired by a local shelter for battered women to help them secure their new location–a location for high-risk victims, such as the spouses of police officers. It’s all very hush-hush; the local philanthropists know what they’re building, but the location is a carefully-guarded secret. The shelter director, Erin Brailey, goes to show him around…and the sparks start right up!
Erin is the daughter of an ex-senator, and her father is just not pleased with her choice of career; she shouldn’t be working for a silly non-profit, and “those” people…but it’s her passion, and she’s determined. Zach, for his part, has a secret he’s playing close to the vest, about why he’s no longer on the force. But it all has to come out in the open when his ex-partner, the wife of a local detective, shows up at the shelter with her arm in a sling, and a black eye.
Both of our protagonists in this tale have rather icky pasts; Zach’s father was an abuser, so he’s very sensitive to the cause that Erin works for. Erin feels like she’s never been able to satisfy her father; she’s never been “good enough.” Both of them are afraid that they cannot get into a relationship, for fear that the cycles in their own life will repeat. But the stress and struggle that Detective Andrews puts them through shows them quickly that not only are they made of sturdier stuff than they thought, but that they are an awesome fit for each other.
Barely thirty pages in, this book turns up the steam, and true to the Desire line, it’s hot! This story is not quite as explicit as others I have read from this line, but the sensuality of Zach and Erin’s very first make-out session sets a really nice tone–gentle, but a little teasing and naughty. They keep this going for most of the book, never quite able to satisfy themselves thanks to the sudden plot twists until the dénouement.
Detective Andrews comes off as a suitably-unhinged villain, and his wife makes a surprise appearance as the Wise Woman who sees what’s really going on with Erin and Zach. The oddity there is, of course, that she doesn’t see the disaster going on in her own life until much later in the book, but she gives Erin good advice about her former beat partner.
I had to have a little debate with myself about setting the trigger warning on this story; while there are no depictions of sexual violence here, the story deals with a number of women and children who have been victims of such violence, which may prove unsettling to a reader who’s been there. The victims are described very sensitively, and discussions of their situations are handled well. As a reader, I was inspired to empathy for them, and anger over their abuser and situations, which is as it should be. I’ll leave it at that; with that disclaimer, a potential reader should make their own decisions about this tale.
Kristi Gold is an experienced author in this genre; I look forward to reading other works by her. This one is a solid read.