January 2009, Contemporary Romance
Signet, $7.99, 432 pages, Amazon ASIN 0451225716 Part of a series
I recently started reading Catherine Andersonís latest contemporary romances, involving the Coulter and Harrigan clans. I think they are great comfort reads, and Star Bright seems like another to add to the list.
In order to escape a truly horrific abusive marriage and certain death, Rainie Danning (with the help of a few trusted friends) fakes her own death, and takes off incognito. She winds up in a small town in Oregon, where she gets a job as a bookkeeper at a horse farm. Her boss, Parker Harrigan, quickly discovers that sheís lying about her identity, but to her surprise, doesnít fire her immediately and instead seems to understand and give her a way out. As the two get closer and begin to fall for each other, Rainie begins to accept the things that happened to her, and open up to both Parker and herself.
Meanwhile, her husband refuses to give up, or to believe that his wife is dead. He is a serial killer, and Rainie is his intended victim; she knows itís only a matter of time before she is discovered and has to turn to Parker and the rest of the Harrigans for help.
Parker is one of those truly honorable heroes that are often paired with formerly abused heroines. He's very Alpha and masculine, but would rather gouge out his own eye than ever hurt a woman, and thinks all men who do raise their hand to their partners deserve long, tortuous deaths. Heís a sweet man, very caring and patient with Rainie, and an obvious family man. This type of hero certainly isnít rare in books like this, but itís a character type that works. I really, really liked him.
His relationship with Rainie was also lovely. For obvious reasons, they didnít get physical right away, and I liked the slow growth of their romance over several months. It was incredibly believable, and really made me like them as a couple, not just two individuals paired together.
The story does cause some eye rolls, though. While Parkerís family is one of those closely-knit Romance Novel Families I enjoy, some of the scenes with them were just incredibly hokey. And the literary device of having a villain who loves to brag about his own brilliance in committing a crime, in order to explain it all to the reader, is used a bit too heavily here. Overall, though, these were minor issues and didnít detract from my overall enjoyment of the story.
There isnít much new in Star Bright (besides, perhaps, the fact that Iíve never read about a heroine enduring this level of abuse), but thatís okay. Itís a good story, with good characters, and a good romance.
-- Jane Granville
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