Veteran Harlequin historical writer Lyn Stone ventures into the Intimate Moments series with the memorable Beauty and the Badge. Her characters are insidiously clever, subtly humorous and crafted with a knowing hand. And always, appearances belie reality.
Agent Ford Devereau, has left the foreign jungles for a tame FBI job in urban America. Which do you think is the more dangerous? While on a routine surveillance of jewel heist suspect Mary Shaw; Ford sees assassin Damien Perry closing in on the private school where she teaches. Knowing he has but moments to snatch her away from a killer's bullet, he rushes in, literally sweeps her off her feet, and runs.
Perry is hot on their trail, and when they can safely escape Ford takes her to his apartment. . Many misunderstandings later, he finally concedes that the tape the FBI has of her conversation with the antique dealer fencing the stolen goods could have been misconstrued.
Mary is insistent that the murdered dealer was her friend and the conversation concerned two miniature antique dolls he was giving her for a charity auction. She epitomizes the essence of fragility, and Ford truly wants to believe her.
When Ford finds Perry has not been picked up, he realizes that he and Mary need to hide. The discovery that Mary’s house has been searched and her doll collection destroyed lends a bit of credibility to her story, which is later enhanced by someone shooting at them while they are fleeing.
Mary chooses her recently deceased grandmother's mansion for their hideaway. Their growing passion for each other is cooled when Ford makes a surprising discovery that puts Mary’s innocence in doubt. Is she a demure young elementary school teacher or a criminal?
Although Beauty and the Badge is essentially a prolonged chase scene, it is nonetheless so artfully filled with character contradictions that it is a fun read. Serious trust issues challenge the romance, but finally, for Ford it just doesn't seem to matter anymore whether or not Mary is involved.
And whether or not she was, I shall leave to you to discover.