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Reluctant Witness

July 8, 2007

From earlier this year.

Reluctant Witness
Author: Kathleen Long
ISBN: 0-373-22959-3 (Harlequin Intrigue)
Finished/Tossed: 28 January 2007
Who: Kerri Nelson, sculptor and Wade Sorenson, owns Sorenson Construction

From the back: He’d witnessed a heinous crime and now Kerri Nelson’s young son insisted on testifying. Part of her was proud, but a bigger part wanted to wrap him in her arms and run. Then her nemesis–and one-time crush–Wade Sorenson stepped in and insisted on keeping them both safe. She had had no intention of relying on the man she blamed for shattering her family…until someone came after her little boy. Kerri soon found the safest place was in Wade’s arms–which scared her more than any elusive criminal ever could. And made her realize how much she still had to lose.

Comments: I’ve made it a habit to keep an open mind when reading a mystery. I’m never sure if the author is the type to practice a bit of misdirection. So even when the author seems to be pointing at one suspect, I watch out for hints that there might be another possibility. In this story, it’s Wade’s connection to a mob family that hints at a second suspect: in his youth, his friend was the son of a prominent mob boss. The father took a liking to Wade and treated him like a son.

Because of this connection, Wade is trying to keep his business reputation above reproach. It is so important to him that he convinces Kerri to allow Tom to come forward. It wasn’t his intention to put the boy’s life in danger, of course, but he takes their safety into his own hands and they go into hiding. The problem is, they can’t seem to lose the attacker. This doesn’t improve his relationship with Kerri.

Kerri is frightened for her son’s safety, and very protective of him. When she does something stupid, like take her son out in public, you wonder if she’s lost her common sense. To be fair, she wasn’t aware that their attacker had manage to follow them, or the fact that even with a dye job and hair cut, she would be instantly recognized. Also, she’s trying to maintain a little normalcy for Tom, and taking him to the boardwalk for breakfast and skee-ball seemed harmless to her.

I don’t know how your average 10-year-old would behave in this situation, but Tom handled himself well. I liked the fact that the author chose to make the boy an avid reader who becomes heartbroken when his favorite books are destroyed. Tom adores Wade, who was his father’s best friend. The boy idolizes him and Wade is very patient with him.

Running for your life and trying to protect a child can put a damper on a relationship. It doesn’t help matters that John Nelson died on one of Wade’s constructions sites, and Wade testified to the fact it was John’s own negligence that caused the accident. Kerri believes that Wade betrayed John’s memory by placing the blame on him, even if it was his mistake. They haven’t spoken in three years, and then Wade shows up on her doorstep and insists that Tom come forward. It seems that Wade’s been in love with her a long time, even before John asked her to marry him. He even gave her an amethyst heart that she still carries as a good luck charm (which begs the question, in this day and age, why she didn’t ask Wade out after accepting the necklace?)

All in all, I thought the book was good introduction to the Intrigue line. I prefer historical to contemporary, so any book I finish that doesn’t leave a bad taste is doing something right. The author didn’t convolute the plot, the arsonist/budding hit man wasn’t over-the-top, and the heroine didn’t cross the “too stupid to live” line.

Book was okay, but not a keeper.


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