NEVER WALK ALONE
Onyx, June 2003
Reviewed by Barbara Fielding
Michael "Rhys" Hazard is forced to return to his hometown of Osuma, Washington which he left years earlier in prison chains. As an emotionally distraught seventeen-year-old he plowed into a school bus, killing two children and a father of five kids. Convicted of vehicular manslaughter, Rhys now must face the family and friends who turned their backs on him in anger. He returns as a powerful self-made businessman, owner of North Star Trucking. He had intended that no one in Osuma would ever know he was the behind the opening of North Star Northwest, a branch of his Trucking Empire which will saving the flood-ravaged town of Osuma from economic devastation. However, his appointed business operator was critically injured on the eve of North Star's opening, and Rhys is forced to take the helm at the last moment.
Brina Sullivan, owner of Nightingale House Bed and Breakfast, is saved by the contract to temporarily house the management of North Star Trucking. Since tourism is way down after a flood wiped out half the town, she welcomes the new business vital to her survival as a divorced mother of two. When handsome cowboy Rhys Hazard shows up at Nightingales', she doesn't immediately recognize him as her ex-husband's brother, or as the young man who was responsible for her own brother's death years ago. All she sees is the first man to awaken her long dead senses and remind her she is still a woman. But will they be able to forgive and overcome the past ties that haunt both of them?
This is the first time I've read anything by the much acclaimed author Paula Detmer Riggs. Her reputation as writer of wonderful family dramas and exciting romance is certainly justified by this moving tale of a tortured hero. This book is more Rhys' book than any other character's. It's mostly his personal journey to confront his painful past and recapture the respect and love he thought he'd lost forever. Brina's journey is treated as more secondary in my opinion. I could have enjoyed more scenes dealing with Brina's emotional journey, which seemed a little glossed over. Brina's children, Marcy and Jay, are adorable and they aren't just window dressing. They play a pivotal role in their Uncle Rhys' healing. The ex-husband, John Sullivan, and his bimbo girlfriend are more one-dimensional and predictable but they serve their purpose as the villains of this story.
NEVER WALK ALONE is the long awaited sequel to TAMING THE NIGHT, which was published in back in 1999 and features the romantic tale of Osuma's Sheriff Brody Hollister and Dr. Summer Laurence. Sheriff Hollister plays an important role in NEVER WALK ALONE but this is a stand alone book in my opinion. Paula Detmer Riggs has written a first class summer novel, sure to be loved by everyone who enjoys a comeback story.
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