Review of LIGHT MY FIRE by Jane Graves (see her website)
Ballantine/Ivy, November 2004
Criminal defense attorney Ethan Millner, despised by every cop in Tolosa, Texas, because he defends scum and gets them off, is starting to despise himself. In a moment of self-loathing after he helped a guilty rapist walk, Ethan nearly crashes his sports car and finds himself before a judge, sentenced to community service: hours and hours of Crimewatch duty. As if it couldn't get worse, his supervisor is curvaceous Neighborhood Watch captain Sandy DeMarco--whose three cop brothers hate him more than anyone. She's not too fond of him, either.
The attraction sizzles for these two immediately. But before anything can develop, the unthinkable happens--they stumble upon Sandy's neighbor, beaten to death. And Sandy's employee from the flower shop she owns is quickly fingered for the murder. Sandy knows Josh couldn't kill anyone, despite his checkered past. So she convinces Ethan to take the case pro bono--something that puts Ethan at odds with his father and partner, who cares only for money and winning every case.
Sandy, of course, quickly begins to see Ethan is not the monster she thought he was, even as Ethan gradually discovers his conscience. The two embark on what looks like an impossible mission--to find the real murderer and get Josh off.
Sandy's story is a great way to finish off the DeMarco family. She felt like a real person to me, with flaws and foibles, but firm convictions and a big heart. She is the perfect foil for Ethan, who anyone can see needs for someone to believe in his goodness and love him. Their physical relationship sizzles (of course! This is Jane Graves) and the pacing grabs the reader by the hair and drags her through a story that's a dazzling funhouse of mirrors, where nothing is as it seems. And the ultimate solution is particularly clever, one where the reader knocks herself up the side of the head and says, "Dang, why didn't I see that coming?" Can't wait to see what comes next from this author.
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