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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Uncovered by Linda Winfree

Uncovered by Linda Winfree
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense
Length: Full (223 pages)
Heat: Hot
Rating: 4 Books
Reviewed by Mimosa

Before she can build a future, she must dig up the bones of her past…

A Hearts of the South story.

After nearly twenty years, her career in possible ruins, homicide detective Madeline Holton returns to her hometown for a temporary stint working with the local sheriff’s department. The demons of her teen years lie in wait, rising once more in the form of a cold case she must solve. And when it comes to a handsome farmer who’s making good on her family’s former land, she can’t seem to keep her foot out of her mouth—or her hands off him.

Agricultural businessman Ash Hardison won’t lie to himself—despite Madeline’s obvious issues, he’s more drawn to her than any woman he’s ever known. He’s already laid the ghosts of his past to rest, and he’s determined to help Madeline purge hers. Whether she likes it or not.

Because he knows it’s the only way they have a chance to forge a future together.

Confronting a haunting past is a recurring and endlessly fascinating theme in romance novels. Emotional baggage carried around in the hero's or heroine's psyche frequently stands in the way of love and must be jettisoned.

In Linda Winfree's novel, Uncovered, heroine Madeline Holton has a whole set of emotional Samsonite that's made her entire adult life miserable, except when she's working. On the job -- she's a homicide detective in Jacksonville, Florida -- she shines.

But when her partner is shot and killed on a raid, and she's given six weeks of administrative leave while an investigation proceeds, she takes a temporary position with a small town sheriff's department in southwest Georgia.

The town happens to be Madeline's hometown -- the dwelling place of ghosts, living and dead, from her high school years. And coming back is harder than she anticipated.

Everyone in Coney -- from Madeline's perfect sister to her distant mother and her long time adversary, Tick Calvert, who is now her partner at the Chandler County Sheriff's Department -- has the potential to generate memories that keep Madeline in a constant state of pain and shame.

Everyone, that is, except handsome, urbane Ash Hardison--a Texas senator's son turned high-tech farmer and Tick's best friend. Drawn to Madeline's beauty and challenged by her distance, he keeps her in a constant state of desire and bewilderment.

This is a complex story involving Madeline's relationship with her family, with her partner, Tick, and with chums from high school. She works an old murder case with personal significance which offers an intriguing mystery that runs parallel with the novel's other plotlines. As the malevolent past looms over her, Madeline is drawn to Ash, where she finds acceptance without pressure, love without demands.

One of the story's few flaws is that the romance between Madeline and Ash develops with unrealistic swiftness while, paradoxically, the various subplots unfold a bit slowly and sometimes seem to tangle with each other. But this is minor and offset by Winfree's prose, which is effortless to read. The setting is presents an authentic backdrop for the unfolding drama. The characters are clearly drawn and distinctive; dialog is realistic.

Readers who enjoy a good mystery-romance blend with the underlying theme of confonting the past should find Winfree's Uncovered a very entertaining read.