The Bride's Protector

Heart of the Night

Her Baby, His Secret

His Secret Duchess

Honor's Bride

The Stranger She Knew

 
Each Precious Hour by Gayle Wilson
(Harl. Int. #541, $3.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-22541-5
****
Gayle Wilson is an auto-buy for me, whether she is writing a contemporary romance or one of her excellent Regency historicals. Her new Harlequin Intrigue did not disappoint me. In fact, it kept me up till nearly 2 a.m. on a night when I needed to get up real early the next morning. I didnít regret the lost sleep one little bit, so engrossed was I in the tale of romance and danger that Wilson spins.

Each Precious Hour is part of a multi-author series about the political ambitions and problems of Senator James McCord of Texas. Since I didnít read the earlier books, I can say with assurance that Wilsonís entry in the series stands alone. She also made the backstory interesting enough that Iím thinking of trying to find the first installments.

The book grabbed me from the get-go. In the prologue, we meet the hero, Jared Donovan, one of the aces of the NYPD bomb squad. He has found a dangerous bomb in an elevator shaft in a federal building and, as the seconds tick away, he works feverishly to disarm it. The tension is palpable and gripping.

The heroine is Robin McCord, niece and press spokesperson for the McCord campaign. She has come to New York to prepare for her uncleís New Yearís Eve speech where he will announce his candidacy and offer his program for the new millennium. McCordís use of the dawn of the millennium has attracted the attention and ire of many of the crazies who are predicting that Armageddon will arrive at midnight on December 31 and they are out in force to greet the members of the McCord campaign. To some of the more apocalyptically-minded, the senator has become the ďBeast.Ē

Robin has a secret. She is three months pregnant with Jared Donovanís child. The two met two years earlier and fell madly in love. Then, too late, Rachel discovered what Jared does for a living. At the age of eleven, she had buried her lawman father. She cannot bear the thought of marrying a man who might well die violently. Since Jared cannot imagine giving up work he views as important, they broke up. A brief, passionate encounter while Robin was in New York resulted in the unexpected pregnancy.

Jaredís life is desolate without Robin, so he seeks her out when he discovers she is in town. He arrives just in time to save her from the angry mob of protesters. And, of course, he discovers her pregnancy. He also discovers that Robin may well be in some kind of danger from someone who is determined to prevent Senator McCord from becoming president. So Jared finds himself protecting the woman he loves from an unseen but frightening foe.

There was a lot of compelling stuff in this book. The romance takes center stage and itís a good one. Robin and Jared truly love each other, but the barriers to a happily ever after are very real and very believable. Robinís fears are far from selfish and groundless, as Jared is beginning to realize.

The suspense and intrigue are equally intense. Senator McCord has an enemy who will go to any length to gain revenge. And it all traces back to events thirty years earlier during the Vietnam War. As the villainís identity is uncovered and the fearful nature of his plot is discovered, let me tell you, I was on the edge of my chair. And Wilson works it out very cleverly indeed. It takes a skilled writer to create the kind of tension that she builds at the end when the reader knows itís all going to be all right.

I like Wilsonís heroes, whether contemporary or historical. They are men for whom honor and duty -- qualities all too rare these days -- are key to their lives. I like Wilsonís heroines. They are strong, capable women who have a real sense of themselves. I like Wilsonís books, and One Precious Hour is her best contemporary yet.

--Jean Mason


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