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Sweet Honesty by Kayla Perrin
(Arabesque/BET, $4.99, PG) ISBN 1-58314-011-5
Samona Gray has a penchant for attracting the wrong men the kind of men who make lasting impressions on her life.

In her hometown of Dallas, she dated Mark who cheated on her with her older sister, Evelyn. Mark and Evelyn have since married and her ex-boyfriend is now her brother-in-law. Their betrayal has driven a wedge between the sisters. Samona left Dallas to start over in Chicago.

That's where she met Roger Benson, the uncle of a student in her third-grade class. After only two months, the relationship began to move too quickly for her. Roger began talking about buying an engagement ring and surprised her one afternoon with a trip to an upscale jewelry store.

Roger's afternoon surprise was just beginning. He pulled out a gun and held it to Samona's head. Roger robbed the jeweler and knocked Samona out. When Samona came to, Roger had disappeared with the jewels, the store owner was dead and she was left to take the fall.

Since the murder, Samona has lost her job, her reputation and her privacy. Media coverage of the crime has made it impossible for her to go out without being recognized, harassed or followed.

The victim's family has increased pressure on police to make an arrest in the case. And although the police suspect Samona was involved in the robbery and murder, they do not have enough evidence to charge her. Detective Derrick Lawson is assigned to go undercover to get more information.

Derrick Lawson was introduced in Everlasting Love, Kayla Perrin's second novel. Derrick is the childhood friend of Whitney Jackson, that novel's heroine. He carried a torch for Whitney, but Javar Jackson won her heart. Derrick and the Jacksons remain friends and the couple makes an appearance in this story.

Derrick takes up residence in the apartment building where Samona is living. He poses as a science fiction writer. As he tries to gain her confidence, Derrick has a hard time reconciling Samona's school teacher persona with the cold-blooded killer he has been sent to investigate.

After a while, they become attracted to one another but they are both reluctant to get involved. He, because of the job he has been sent to do. She, because of her lousy track record with men and her notoriety.

Meanwhile, Roger's accomplices think Samona's got the missing jewels. They break into her apartment and threaten her. She cannot go to the police because she is their prime suspect. Her life is in danger and there is no one to help her. Who can she trust?

Sweet Honesty is a romantic suspense story that involves two vulnerable characters and interesting plot twists. As in all her novels, Kayla Perrin deals with family issues, human shortcomings and the power of love.

The relationship between the two characters is well-paced and believable. The secondary characters provide grounding for the lovers as they grapple with their feelings for one another. The villains are credible as well.

There are continuity problems that Chicagoans or those who spend time in the city would notice. However, these are minor and do not detract from the story.

Canadian author Kayla Perrin is among the new authors on my "Emerging Authors" list. In Everlasting Love and now, in Sweet Honesty, Kayla Perrin has demonstrated a flair for writing romantic thrillers. I hope she continues. These are her best works.

--Gwendolyn Osborne

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