Mira, May 2002, 6.50, 384 pp.
Three years ago in Tennessee, Jackson was the family fair-haired boy on his way to a judgeship until the car accident left him paralyzed. The driver of the other vehicle Tommy Banks resides in jail for driving drunk, but swears he was slipped a Mickey. Now Jackson's stepbrother Collier Smith is the family member one step away from a federal bench appointment.
Everything changes for Collier when he finds a dazed Brittany wandering the mountain road. Apparently, an enemy of his family accosted and beat her up before deserting her. Collier takes her to safety though she is Tommy's sister. As Collier falls in love with Brittany, he has decisions to make, as she is bad for his political career. Adding to his difficulty is pressure Tommy puts on him to help get him released from prison. Will Collier choose love or family loyalty and power for he cannot have both?
Though a star-crossed love story between a person from the wrong side of the tracks and an elitist has been told a zillion times in novels and movies, Mary Lynn Baxter provides a compassionate spin on the theme through a strong cast. The story line is character driven especially by Collier, torn between his love for Brittany and his familial obligations enhanced by the bitterness of Jackson and the machinations of Tommy. Fans will enjoy this tale, but feel that though Mary Lynn Baxter resolved the prime theme in an exemplary manner, the talented author left too many sub-plots dangling as if a sequel is planned.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner