Onyx, Apr 2004, 6.50, 352 pp.
Former Los Angeles police officer Doug Hawkins relocates near Wolf Mountain, Idaho. His first day in the nearby town, a bargirl takes him to an exclusive location. However, before anything can happen, a screaming banshee smacks the fender of his new truck and tells the duo to leave as they are on her property. Doug later learns that the beautiful maniac is Los Angeles based realtor Alex McGregor.
Alex and Doug formally meet in the office of their mutual friend Forest Service Ranger Ted Benson. When a fire on her property kills her former husband Charlie, Ted, who is leaving town to work a different fire, asks Doug to watch over Alex. As logger Kenny Miller forces an access road through Alex's property with the support of the locals who need jobs, she and Doug begin to fall in love. However, he suspects foul play in the death of Charlie and she was burned once as a wife leading to the probability that this relationship will quickly turn to ashes.
Though Kenny seems to inane to pull off the PR needed to gain the easement to log, fans of romantic suspense novels will appreciate this warm contemporary tale. The story line is fun to follow on several levels. Obviously the love relationship is cleverly devised so that Girl meets and hates boy until girl and boy fall in love. However, the deep look at the jobs vs. the environment issue makes THE LOVE OF A STRANGER a delightful solid novel as Anna Jeffrey leans towards the tree huggers, but understands the wages issues so as to provide a balanced tale.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner