Jenna West is trapped by the past, threatened by the present, and unable to see a future. Her rescuer, Dr. Linc Garret is also mired in the past, a mere observer of the present, and indifferent about the future.
Jenna is a veterinarian and while making a routine house (barn?) call, she finds Linc drunk in a barn stall. She approaches him to take away the broken beer bottle he appears intent upon using on himself. Linc makes a clumsy pass at her and Jenna recoils in terror.
Years pass and Linc has found a level on which he can reconcile the loss he sustained the day he so frightened Jenna. Working shifts in the emergency room, he is able to maintain the distance he desires from everyone. When a casualty of an aggravated assault is brought in, he recognizes Jenna as the victim. In a brief moment of consciousness, she asks Linc to treat her. Unexpectedly he agrees, and the ER staff is stunned when afterwards Linc maintains a bedside watch. (Is he human after all?)
When she recovers consciousness, Jenna is able to identify the man who assaulted her. Deke Ramsey was a college football player turning pro eight years ago when Jenna's testimony convicted him of the brutal rape he had committed upon her. Ramsey has just been released from the penitentiary, and blaming Jenna for all he has lost, is determined to rape her again and then kill her. Cowan creates a truly evil character who even killed the fellow doctor who tried to protect Jenna in this newest assault.
Linc's brother is the detective handling the case and insists that Jenna not return home until Ramsey is arrested. Knowing that her family is at risk, and having only one friend she trusts, Jenna has little choice but to accept Linc's offer to stay with him.
This is a very familiar plot line – the heroine moving in with the hero for protection. But Cowan brings unusual creativity that sets it apart from the average handling. The close proximity of living together begins to thaw Linc, and heat up Jenna. This is an unprecedented feeling for Jenna, since she perceives herself as frigid and refuses to contemplate any action that might hurt Linc. As the evil stalker draws nearer, tensions on all fronts heighten.
This is just Debra Cowan's second book with the Intimate Moments series, but she certainly displays her skills with consistently sharp dialogue and characters that are credible and likeable. Victims of aggravated rape are sometimes central characters in romance novels but rarely is the issue of resulting frigidity confronted head-on with the degree of sensitivity that Cowan employs.
Apart from the issues and the suspense inherent in the plot, this book is primarily a love story. The author's choice of doctors as leading characters merely makes the treatment of the frigidity issue more credible without losing any of the sexual tension she adroitly builds.
The remaining unmarried Garrett brother is apparently the subject of the concluding book in this series and will be available in December. Based on this book, it is one I shall certainly look forward to reading.