SMOOTH TALKIN' STRANGER
Pocket, April 2004
Reviewed by Barbara Fielding
After seven lonely years as a widow, single mother Serena Hamilton decides to step out of her rut. While staying with her Dad in Austin she goes out for a night on the town, visiting a nightclub to see if she can get back into the social world of adults. What she didn't plan on was to drink too much and go home with a total stranger. The next morning when she comes face to face with the handsome stranger she is mortified. She can't make a fast exit because he has to drive her back to the club to get her car. Her only consolation is that he doesn't know her name and she will be going home to Hopeful, Texas soon where she will never have to run into him again.
Hunter Fletcher is a loner. As a covert operative for the CIA, he makes it a rule to keep his life clean and simple. No commitments, no family ties. He only goes out with women who understand he's not a commitment kind of guy. Still Hunter breaks his own rules when he brings home the beautiful woman he met last night. He knows she's the kind of woman who doesn't usually do something this impetuous. She's an old fashioned, hearts and flowers kind of woman, but he figures maybe she is stepping out on a husband who's already cheated on her or something like that? He's not prying into what brought her to spend the night with him, he just thinks he got lucky. But whoever Steve is, the name she cried out in his arms, he'd better make amends before he loses a good thing.
Hunter drives her back to her car, and gives her a card with his name and number on it. He impulsively decides to ask what Steve did that made her go looking for someone else? She says, "He died," and turns to walk away. Hunter is used to walking away and never looking back, but something about her gets to him and ultimately turns his world upside down.
SMOOTH TALKIN' STRANGER is a romantic relationship drama. It's a character driven love story about two lonely people who unexpectedly find each other. There is a lot about this novel that is predictable, but I mean that in a good way. It's a comfortable read that romance lovers are sure to enjoy. There are a few steamy loves scenes too. Serena is a good mom with a little boy hungry for a father, and Hunter is a tortured hero who grew up in foster homes. He doubts he's the kind of man Serena needs in her life. And there is a secret in his past. Isn't there always? It's one that could destroy their potential for happiness.
I have to mention some secondary characters. I particularly loved Serena's father, and laughed out loud when he showed Hunter his NRA membership card. He's a real gem. The characters from HARD LOVIN' MAN, Jack and Kelley Morgan, also play a role in this story. SMOOTH TALKIN' STRANGER is Ms. Heath's second contemporary release and there were several characters who could easily become the subject of another spinoff novel.
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