Mira, Jul 2002, 23.95, 304 pp.
They were foster siblings with Maggie Barton loving Cord Romero since she first met him eighteen years ago when she was eight and he was a teen. However, he marries Patricia and eventually she weds Bart. Both widows, Maggie learns that Cord was severely injured from a bomb blast meant to kill him. She gives up everything and races to his ranch just outside Houston to nurture her only true love back to health, but he rejects her offer, misunderstanding that she came from Morocco not Texas. When he learns the extent of her sacrifice, Cord apologizes.
Maggie accepts a temporary job at the Lassiter Detective Agency who are working with the government to stop an abusive child ring that makes Dickens look like kindergarten. Her new job keeps Maggie in close contact with Cord as his recent near fatal disaster is tied in with what Lassiter is doing. As Cord and Maggie acknowledge their adult love for one another, the current case hits home too closely as a reminder of the shame she still feels and hides about her pre foster childhood that if not revealed to her beloved could end their relationship.
Fans of romantic suspense thrillers focused on a real social problem will want to read DESPERADO, an action-packed tale that never slows down except when Cord and Maggie grab hold of one another. Considering the sub-genre of the novel, surprisingly that romantic subplot seems hollow when compared to the significance of the child slavery ring. Still, readers will root for the good guys to win over the evil corporate empire and with one another in Diana Palmer's latest novel.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner