Jess Baxter has met the man of her dreams, but she begins to suspect he may be a serial killer. After getting divorced two years ago, musician Jess Baxter was starting to feel as if her life was turning around for the better. Her six-year-old daughter Kelsey was happy, her career was going okay and a hunky stranger named Rob Carpenter had moved into an apartment in the upper level of her duplex. Sure, there was problems. Her ex-husband Ian was a bitter drunk who kept showing up at the most inconvenient times. And Sarasota was gripped with fears over a serial killer who had killed more than a dozen women.
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But Jess was attracted to Rob and she could tell it was mutual. She had first met him when he started coming to her shows with his work friend Frank. They began to talk and when she found out he was looking for a new place to live, she was happy to have him move in. But she beings to wonder about Rob, mostly because he is so secretive. He ignores her advances as long as he can, and even after they finally make love, he tells her that he shouldn't have done it. He's clearly hiding something, but what can it be?
Jess notices a man following her and she wonders if it could be the killer. Instead, it's an undercover FBI agent. He tells her that the FBI has begun to suspect that she knows the identity of the serial killer. All the women that have been killed look a lot like her, the murders have usually taken place near her and they even have a suspect in mind: her new tenant Rob.
Sure, he's mysterious and when Jess talks to the FBI profiler he matches a lot of the details provided in the killer's profile. But she can't believe it could be him. Not only is he protective of her and Kelsey, he even asked his co-worker Frank to stay in his apartment and watch over them while he was away on a business trip. Sure, Frank made some inappropriate advances, but Rob couldn't anticipated that. But the FBI is convinced they have the killer and when they come to arrest Rob, he runs for it. Jess doesn't realize he was wounded during his escape and with no where else to go, he hides in the trunk of her car and shows himself when she gets back to her house. She wants to believe he isn't a killer, but there is so much circumstantial evidence. She bandages him up and offers to hide him at her parent's beach house.
Before they can leave, Frank shows up and tries again to make the moves on Jess. He won't take no for an answer and Rob is forced to come out of hiding and confront him. They tie Frank up and Jess decides she'll take Rob to the beach house, then come back and untie Frank. She reluctantly drops Rob off after they have a talk about their lives. She tells him about Frank's advances and she wants him to talk about his past. But he refuses and she leaves to return home. Once she's left, something she said about Frank gets Rob's attention and he suddenly realizes that Frank could be the serial killer. He is stuck at the beach with no car and the only way to save Jess is to call the FBI, reveal his location and ask them to check on Jess.
When she gets home, Jess unties Frank and he overpowers her. He reveals his identity as the serial killer and prepares to kill her. He taunts her by promising to kill her daughter next and that makes her so angry she overpowers him and during the struggle he is killed. Rob and the FBI arrive to find Jess unconscious and covered in Frank's blood. After he is cleared, Rob tells her the truth about his life. He has a $10 million contract on his life following an incident in which he became innocently involved in the loss of a great deal of mob-owned cocaine. He tells her goodbye and is arrested and she doesn't think she'll ever see him again.
Six months later, she meets Rob Stewart, a businessman from Memphis who is town for the weekend. It's Rob and he's in a witness relocation program after testifying against the mob. He asks Jess and Kelsey to join him in Memphis and she quickly (and happily) agrees.
Best part of story, including ending:
The story did a nice job of keeping the reader guessing about the identity of the killer. You were never sure who might have been guilty and even the brief snippets written from the killer's point of view didn't give anything away.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene was the one in which Jess and Rob first consummate their relationship. It's filled with equal amounts of passion and angst and even at this early point in the relationship there is already a lot of loss and sadness mixed in with their joy.
Opinion about the main character:
Jess Baxter is a very normal character and that's really what makes this book work. She reacts the same way a normal person would to this weird situation and her lack of detective savvy and enormous trust in Rob comes across very believable.