Review of HARD LOVIN' MAN by Lorraine Heath (see her website)
Pocket Star, November 2003
Kelley Spencer has never gotten over her brief affair with Jack Morgan. Then he was the just-graduated bad-boy of the local high school and she his teacher, fresh out of college. Now she has a sister to raise--a sister who has cultivated hell-raising as an art form. Kelley is surprised to find that Jack has turned his life around. He's chief of police, a responsible single dad, and still a major heart-throb. Kelley is tempted, although it took her years to recover from Jack's betrayal. But raising her sister is more important than anything--even rekindling the one great love she ever experienced. Besides, Kelley holds a secret deep inside of herself--a secret with the potential to explode everything she lives for.
Jack Morgan knows what it's like to lose a parent--and Kelley's sister has recently lost both parents. She's acting out and Jack knows that the answer is clear boundaries. But Kelley doesn't seem very good at boundaries. Which is great where he is concerned. Although Kelley forced him to marry another woman, Jack has never been able to forget her. But he still has an idealized vision of her--a vision that imperfect Kelley knows she can never live up to. And losing him again would be too destructive.
Author Lorraine Heath (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by Heath) marks her first contemporary romance after a strong career in historicals. It's an emotionally powerful tale of lost and found dreams. Younger sister Madison is a memorable character--damaged, sympathetic, and angry with the world. Both Jack and Kelley are strong and admirable as they strive to come to terms with their responsibilites and mistakes, and the two definitely steam up the pages when they're together.
Heath's strong writing really sucks in the reader, making them care for these characters, feel for their sorrow, and hope that they can somehow overcome the weight of past secrets and pains and build themselves a future of love.
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