Oct 20, 08
Read in September, 2008
Smoke Screen was the best Sandra Brown book that I have read in quite some time. It is a terrific romantic suspense novel that focuses more on the suspense, but still manages to have a quite satisfying romance. The romance isn't given a lot of time in the book, but the hero and heroine spend most of the story in the company of one another, and there is plenty of tension and interaction between them. I found both the hero and heroine to be very likeable characters, although the actions of the hero when he was first introduced into the book made me worry that he would not be a sympathetic character. I was glad to be proven wrong. This book had a compelling storyline, and I was engrossed in the book from the beginning.
Britt Shelley is stunned to wake up in bed with policeman Jay Burgess, only to realize that he is dead. She has no memory of going to bed with him, and suspects that she has been drugged. No one is inclined to believe her, and she is soon a suspect in Jay's murder when his death is ruled as foul play. When Raley Gannon hears her story, he knows that he must find out if she is telling the truth. His life was ruined five years ago when he found himself in the same situation with a woman - in Jay Burgess' home. Raley wasn't ever charged in the death of the woman he didn't even remember sleeping with, but he lost his fiance, his job, his friends, and everything that was important to him. Since Raley was a respected fire investigator, the police department attempted to keep his embarrassing situation quiet. The reporter who made certain that the public knew of his disgrace was none other than Britt Shelley. For the last five years Raley has been barely existing in a remote cabin in the woods. Raley believes that both his and Britt's compromising situations were set up by a group of policeman that included his best friend, Jay Burgess. Raley was investigating a deadly fire that occurred at the police department and he believes that he was set up to lose his career and respectability when he got too close to the truth. Raley believes that Jay Burgess was killed because he was planning to reveal the truth to Britt Shelley after learning he had a fatal illness.
Raley takes drastic action in order to spend time with Britt and discover for himself that he believes her story. He is very resentful of Britt over her part in his public disgrace, but he believes that she can use the information about his situation to exonerate both of them. After Raley tells Britt his story, they part ways, but she encounters danger and he must come to her rescue. Britt has no one else to turn to for protection, so she stays with Raley and they work to discover exactly what happened in the fire five years ago. Raley and Britt must deal with constant danger as well as their attraction and growing feelings for one another. They know that they need help, but don't know who they can trust aside from each other.
This book was interesting and had plenty of action. The hero, Raley, was a deeply responsible, loyal, honest man whose life was shattered by those he trusted. As the novel progressed and his nature and integrity were revealed, he became more and more likeable. The heroine was a caring woman who was quick to admit that she was unfair to Raley five years ago due to her ambition. She matured in the intervening time, and she was very regretful over the part she played in Raley's downfall. Raley and Britt made a good team, and I enjoyed seeing them grow to care for one another. This book had great characters and a good storyline.