Onyx, Mar 2003, 6.99, 352 pp.
In Memphis, engaged couple Julie Morrison and Steve Land go to the fanciest restaurant in town accompanied by his parents. To her chagrin, a blast from the past, attorney Zach McRae is also there. Zach is in town defending a teen in a capital punishment case. Zach asks Julie where she has been for the last eight years and realizes she has lied to her fiancÚ about her background hiding that she fled Baxter, Ohio and an ugly family situation.
Zach informs Julie that her mother and stepfather are going to be arrested for stealing money leaving her half-brother thirteen years old Peter in trouble. When Zach becomes despondent over losing his case, Julie offers solace, but that soon turns into lovemaking. Julie breaks off her engagement and returns to her hometown to care for her disturbed sibling. Zach also comes home to regain his equilibrium following the harrowing trial and to deal with his biological father who murdered his mother having been freed from prison. Though neither wants this, Zach and Julie fall in love, but the baggage each carry may prove to powerful for a lasting relationship.
The two lead protagonists and his adopted family keep this engaging somewhat maudlin contemporary romance crisply moving forward. Zach is a dedicated individual who displays how emotional draining a capital punishment case can be on a lawyer. To escape her past, Julie builds a house of cards that collapses rather quickly. This angst-laden duo is bad for each other except Teresa Hill demonstrates that love can overcome many negatives if the individuals make the effort as this pair does.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner