Slow Burn
Julie Garwood
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Slow Burn
Julie Garwood
432 pages
December 2006
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Slow Burn, the fifth in Garwoodís contemporary thriller series starring the Buchanan family, features Dylan Buchanan, a Boston police detective on a leave of absence after being shot. Dylan has always had a crush on his sisterís best friend and former college roommate, Kate McKenna. He gets the chance to act on it while his sister is in the hospital and Kate is staying at her place. They both agree to have one night together and then move on with their lives.

Kate is a no-nonsense yet demure Southern gal who owns her own thriving candle business. Since her motherís death, she has been struggling to take care of her younger sister and manage the familyís finances, which are not in good condition. While at a party to promote her products, she narrowly escapes being killed in an explosion. A short time later, another bomb nearly takes her life. But it takes Dylan to put two and two together. And those arenít the only attempts to remove Kate from the picture.

When his sister asks him to check on Kate, he learns that there are some crazy people after her who will do nothing to stop her from doing...what? What does an arrogant, unethical old man, the dysfunctional family of the year, and a bomber who goes by the name of the Florist have to do with Kateís mishaps? That is the mystery to be solved.

Julie Garwood is known for her strong heroines and dashing heroes, and both Kate and Dylan definitely fit the bill. However, their past involvement made their relationship in the book a little underdeveloped. It did not take them long to go from the one night stand to a deep, emotional connection. All of Kateís blustering that she can take care of herself rang slightly false as she jumped a little too eagerly into Dylanís manly arms.

Despite the quick hook-up, the mystery is top-notch from start to finish. There are a lot of contenders for the title of villain, but a twist at the end makes it difficult to point the finger with any accuracy. Out of a cast loaded with ill-will, picking the likely culprit is intriguing and challenging.

As always, it is enjoyable revisiting the characters from past books, but unlike so many authors of successful series, Garwood doesnít make the mistake of spending too much time adding the details of previous stories to this one. She doesnít give away any of the goods, so it isnít necessary to read the books in order. None are dependent on the previous, nor do they lead straight to the next. Although reading them in order isnít required, I strongly encourage readers to pick up the rest of the books in the series as they are all as solid and well-written as Slow Burn, if not more so.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Kelley Sittner Hartshorn, 2005

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