A Kiss in the Dark by Jenna Mills
(Silh. Int. Mom. #1199, $4.75, PG) ISBN 0-373-27269-3
Jenna Mills delivers a highly charged story of romantic suspense that easily surpasses her earlier works. Using a plot line that essentially is not too unique, she manages to invest it with clever twists and surprises creating something distinctive.

Years ago, Bethany St. Croix married Lance St. Croix while on the rebound from a blazing affair with his cousin Dylan. When she told Dylan she was pregnant, his youth and inability to handle the news led to her miscarriage and the death of her father while flying to her side. At that point Bethany equated unbridled passion with death, so she married Lance and began to fashion the icy control she would maintain for years.

Six weeks ago, after divorcing Lance, Bethany retreated to the wealthy St. Croix mountain cabin only to find Dylan there. Passion was rekindled but there was no morning after, since she fled before sunrise.

Dylan and Lance had been reared together by their grandfather, a wealthy judge. Lance had become an Assistant DA while Dylan dropped out of law school his last year to become a private investigator. Dylan is in a quixotic pursuit for truth, and Lance in pursuit of fame and power.

When Lance is found murdered in Bethany’s home, Bethany claims she was knocked out and woke up in a negligee next to his dead body. A fireplace poker is the cause of death and her fingerprints are, of course, all over it. Her icy exterior and status as the ex-wife vaults her into the role of primary suspect.

Dylan is torn between trying to help Bethany who is afraid of his help and his passion. This book departs from the ordinary when she faints at the funeral only to find she is finally pregnant. From this point, Mills weaves an intriguing story of deceit and treachery rivaled only by the steaminess of the rekindling of Dylan and Bethany’s past.

Mills does a superb job of creating and maintaining tension on all fronts. Her hero and heroine are extraordinarily well developed, the secondary characters not quite so well done. The story flows evenly, although it keeps surprising the reader.

The only criticism is the ending. It comes together too quickly and stretches the imagination a bit too much. However, the author deserves praise for the way in which she created a situation with an overload of angst, but instead of the inner dialogue that usually accompanies this to the point of tedium, she chose to define the angst by the manner in which her characters keep responding.

--Thea Davis

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