Meredith Kenyon will do anything to protect her daughter and that includes running in the middle of a custody battle, changing their names and working a dead-end job, but the sheriff in town and his dog are determined to find out the truth. When Meredith Kenyon first met Sheriff Masters, she was not impressed. He had a huge dog that ran over to her home and terrified her already traumatized daughter and he seemed too eager to learn about them. The dog, Goliath, is a retired police dog and therefore is held to a higher standard of behavior than a regular dog might. The huge Rottweiler, Goliath, seems to have a sixth sense about people, especially kids, who need him and he repeatedly sneaks off from his property to see Meredith's daughter, Sammy.
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However, the mom does not know the dog is still getting in through a conveniently open window and cannot figure out why days after the dog's visit, she is still finding his fur. She quickly discovers the truth and also finds out that the Sheriff, Heath Masters, is building an addition to his yard so that the dog will be contained. Since her daughter seems to like the dog, Meredith agrees to allow the dog to stay on their property during the day while the Sheriff is at work, because the dog will sneak over anyway.
In return for her kindness, Heath decides to take care of some of the problems with her home. One night, he surprises her and she badly cuts her hand. He takes her to the hospital, where he is shocked to find out how terrified Sammy is of hospitals and blood, which makes him more suspicious. It is important to note that in order to hide more successfully, Meredith wears a padded bra, wig and tinted contacts, in addition to the fake names for her and her daughter.
Meanwhile, some back-story is divulged, including the cruelty of Meredith's ex-husband and the fact that he trained his dogs to be vicious to Meredith and Sammy, which is why she was originally so scared of Goliath. When he died, his father, who was just as maniacal and was in the mob, sued for custody and was likely to win due to doctored photographs and lies about her character on the stand. That is when she started running and didn't stop till she got to where she felt safe.
Her father-in-law is still looking for them and when he sees a brief clip on television that showed her, he sent one of his men to check it out. After talking with her briefly at the grocery store, he goes by her home, where Goliath realizes that something is wrong and his people are scared. When he doesn't leave fast enough, the dog nips him and therefore the dog is at risk of being put down. Nobody knows that the dog was right and even if Meredith wanted to tell, it would be too risky.
Meredith realizes that things are getting too close and they need to leave, but this time she is taking the dog if he loses in court and is ordered to be put to sleep. She packs up the car with necessities, which is the very night that Heath does some research and realizes who she is. They have a huge fight, he tells her has to arrest her and she tells him the whole story. At first, he doesn't believe her, but when they are attacked, he does. They all go on the run, until he comes up with a plan to save them. He contacts his father, who begrudgingly helps them.
She contacts the federal government, who agree to put her in a witness protection program in exchange for testifying and Heath creates paperwork to make it look they are married. The book ends several months later, when Meredith and Sammy are being brought to a new home by the Fed. She discovers that Heath is there, with his father and Goliath. He tells them that they are a family, they own the land and they will be together. Sammy believed in him the whole time, even though he said when they left for witness protection that he was going to meet them at the airport on that date and wasn't there. He just met them at their new home instead.
Best part of story, including ending:
This book did a great job of reminding people that domestic violence can and does occur anywhere. Wealthy and poor families both experience it and when a mom is left with no choices, she has to make her own choices. The details about the abuse were clear without being gory.
Best scene in story:
When Goliath is first introduced, he just wants to make friends with Sammy. However, she is terrified of dogs, especially big ones and the canine's training has always been to protect the child. He realizes that she is afraid, but based on his experiences in law enforcement, he thought she was afraid of her mom. So he was growling and willing to protect her from her mom, who was also scared of dogs, who was trying to protect Sammy from the dog. The accuracy of this scene made it especially poignant later when Goliath and Sammy become best friends.
Opinion about the main character:
I loved Meredith Kenyon. She was an excellent example of everything a mom should be and shows how much you can do to protect your child when you have no choice. She had a horrible situation with her husband, but she still fought tooth and nail, and committed crimes, to safeguard them.