The last thing US Marshal Brent Thompson needs is distraction from his work. But distraction -- in the form of a sexy Chicago investigator -- is exactly what he gets. Jenna Hayward is as alluring as she is determined, driven to help apprehend the murderer who killed Brent's mother twenty-three years ago. With a shared mission -- and a steadily rising attraction that jeopardizes Brent's resolve to stay unattached -- the pair must work together to get answers…before the murderer makes them his next victims.
Very good book with excellent suspense and steamy romance. Brent and Jenna made their first appearances in The Defender as secondary characters. I was rooting for him to get his own story, and this is it. Brent is dedicated to his work as a marshal, not just professionally but also personally. He went into law enforcement because of the murder of his mother when he was a child. Her killer was never caught and he spends his off time continuing the investigation. When he is offered the assistance of investigator Jenna, he takes it, hoping that a fresh outlook will turn up something new. He doesn't expect that the attraction he's felt since he met her will begin to consume his thoughts. He doesn't want it because it is a distraction from his purpose.
Jenna was very happy to take the case. She has been looking for something that would be a challenge for her and this certainly qualifies. A twenty-three year old cold case is not going to be an easy one to solve. Her biggest challenge, though, is resisting the attraction she feels for Brent.
The relationship between these two was very interesting. Brent is a brooding, self-controlled kind of guy. He keeps his emotions locked up because he knows it won't be pretty if he finally lets go. Working with Jenna is a real challenge to those emotions as his attraction to her puts some cracks in the walls around his heart. She has a real talent for seeing the pain he is in and trying to get him to talk about it. Brent has also been the one in his family that the others all seem to depend on, even his aunt and uncle. It's just one more thing that adds to his stress. I liked that he could see past her beauty to the kickass investigator that she is. Jenna is more outgoing and slightly outrageous. She is a former pageant winner who has gotten good at using her beauty as another method of getting people to talk. She really wants to be taken seriously as an investigator and looks at this case as a way to earn the respect she craves. She sees Brent's pain and the way he has locked away his emotions. He has told her that he's a bad bet for a relationship because of his focus, but she sees things differently. Both of them have different ways of investigating and find themselves frequently butting heads. Brent has a big protective streak and tries to get Jenna to follow his rules while investigating, which puts them on a huge collision course. Jenna doesn't like being told when and how to do her job and makes sure he knows it. I had fun seeing their confrontations, as Jenna makes her points and Brent tries to reconcile her capabilities with his need to protect her.
The suspense of the story was great. Just getting the background of what happened and seeing the effect it had on his whole family gave another layer of importance to his need to solve the crime. He had been right that having fresh eyes look at it might turn up something new, as Jenna discovers a lead that looks very promising. It's importance becomes more obvious when she's attacked, leading them to believe that they are very close. It has quite a twist to the final confrontation as the killer was not who I suspected at all, and the reason behind it was a total surprise.