She won a RITA (ooo, two!) and she's selling a gazillion books. None of that changes the fact that Suzanne Brockmann is a great writer who lives up to this hype. This is not Heartthrob II. This book stands solidly on its own merits: strong plot, believable characters, great dialogue, each page moved. This book seems a bit edgier than other romance faire, and despite the mob boss set-up, the grittier aspects involve Harry's redemption in his relationships. Brockmann's characters make pure, tough choices that are sometimes hard to like, but it is a relief to read a book that wasn't device'd to death.
This book fails to get five stars only because a secondary character should have received a whole lot more comeuppance, and the epilogue, unlike the tone of the rest of the book, was a little too Barney for my taste ("And what did you learn today, Timmy?") Brockmann has written a book that takes the romance novel to previously unscaled heights by combining extraordinary circumstances with realistic character responses. P.S. If Detective Harry O'Dell's rumpled suit makes you think of Peter Falk, try substituting George Clooney. Worked for me. Very well, actually. And anyway, seeing Peter Falk is not enough reason to stop reading a well-crafted book. There are too few out there these days.