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Taming the Night
by Paula Detmer Riggs
(Fawcett, $5.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-449-15019-4
*****
Oh the glamorous life of a book reviewer! Perhaps you thought it was all exciting bound advance copies or shiny new books to read. Wrong. Sometimes, it's loose page galleys held together with a rubber band (or once, a diaper pin!). Not exactly an easy thing to curl up in bed with.

And sometimes disaster strikes. Imagine spilling 400 pages all over the floor. With a mediocre book, it's almost not worth the annoyance of picking them up. But this time, it was actually a good thing. As I was frantically picking up the pages and putting them in some semblance of order, all the while mumbling not-so-nice words under my breath, I realized right then what my rating would be: five tiny hearts all in a row.

Staying up until 3 a.m. to finish the book cemented that rating.

I was hooked after the ten page prologue. Seventeen years old, seven months pregnant and arrested for possession with intent to sell drugs, Summer Laurence is positive it will all work out. Even though her prominent family has abandoned her and her court-appointed lawyer believes she's guilty, her undercover cop boyfriend has told her not to worry.

The book actually opens sixteen years later. Former drug addict, Dr. Summer Laurence is prepared to keep the promise she made to herself while in prison. Now a respected therapist with a doctorate in psychology, Summer is ready to open a drug rehabilitation facility for teenaged addicts. Her mission is to help teenagers through counseling, so no one repeats her horrifying experience.

Her new friend, Dottie Hollister, has promised her the perfect spot for her center: a large ranch on 25 acres in a picturesque area of Washington state. But Dottie neglected to mention that her nephew, Sheriff Brody Hollister, despises drug addicts (with good reason) and believes that drug rehabilitation is completely useless.

These two people who really have nothing in common and everything in conflict are instantly, blindingly attracted to one another. The ex-con and the cop, the intellectual and the high school dropout, the lecturer and the stutterer, the beauty and the........hunk.

And Paula Detmer Riggs makes this work.

It's exciting to read a book that is so evenly balanced a captivatingly original storyline teamed with well-defined, strong, intelligent characters. Ms. Riggs resisted the urge many times in the story to take the easy way out; often when I thought I knew what was happening next, she surprised me. And even though both characters have troubled pasts, Taming the Night is not a dark read, it's compelling, mesmerizing and satisfying.

When I think I've read a great romance, I have my own list of personal requirements that I double check: dynamite story, believable characters, excellent writing, fast paced but naturally evolving plot, strong secondary characters, and of course, captivating sexual tension or sensuality. Taming the Night delivers them all.

Long-time series author Paula Detmer Riggs will justifiably gain a whole new set of fans with this single title book. Even with the pages scattered all over the floor, this was an exceptional book. You lucky readers can have a keeper just the right size for your bookshelf.

--Dede Anderson


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