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Monday, August 29, 2011

A Claim of Innocence by Laura Caldwell

A Claim of Innocence by Laura Caldwell
Publisher: Mira
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (440 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 books
Reviewed by Camellia

Forbidden relationships are the most tempting. And the most dangerous.
It was a crime of passion–or so the police say. Valerie Solara has been charged with poisoning her best friend. The prosecution claims she's always been secretly attracted to Amanda's husband…and with Amanda gone, she planned to make her move.

Attorney Izzy McNeil left the legal world a year ago, but a friend's request pulls her into the murder trial. Izzy knows how passion can turn your life upside down. She thought she had it once with her ex–fiance, Sam. Now she wonders if that's all she has in common with her criminally gorgeous, younger boyfriend, Theo.

It's Izzy's job to present the facts that will exonerate her client–whether or not she's innocent. But when she suspects Valerie is hiding something, she begins investigating–and uncovers a web of secret passions and dark motives, where seemingly innocent relationships can prove poisonous…

A mixture of a trial in criminal court and the trials in Izzy O’Neil’s personal life creates a feeling of “Is anyone really innocent?”.

Izzy, a lawyer once again working, finds criminal court different from civil court where she had worked before. Like her personal life, her professional life has taken a new road. She likes the change and the challenge, yet, she is reluctant to turn loose the past connections. As the reader travels the bumpy, uncertain, and often unsettling road with Izzy, expecting the unexpected becomes the norm.

A bevy of characters play important roles. Some are red herrings but they help add a touch of mystery to the plot, while others range from not-very-nice to the super yummy Theo.

The reticent Valerie Solara, accused of murdering her best friend Amanda Miller, is a mystery woman doing little to help her own defense.

Izzy, with her need-to-know attitude, soon uncovers subplots galore that keep the reader hopping from Amanda’s husband Zavy’s unknown past to Valerie’s daughter Layla’s secret life, to Amanda’s twelve and nine year old girls, and even to the back story of Valerie. Then there is the nanny Sylvia Zowinski, with a rap sheet, and the disgruntled neighbor Dr. St. John who had yelling matches with Amanda. My goodness, they do keep the reader guessing. Izzy’s searching for something to create reasonable doubt stirred up a hornets’ nest.

Martin and Maggie Bristol, criminal defense lawyer who asked Izzy to work with them have stories of their own, but nothing like the “life and times” of Izzy. She has a sexy, smart boyfriend Theo, ten years her junior, who revs up the heartbeat on a regular bases, while the reentrance of her old lover Sam creates conflicts that keep Izzy off-kilter much of the time. She sometimes wonders if she really knows either one of the men. Her ever-changing world is forcing her to do some tough growing up.

The humor seen in Izzy’s friend Lucy’s venture into the world of younger men dates is fun and enlightening, while the patience and love seen in the once renegade private investigator Mayburn is an affirmation of true love.

Izzy’s mother, step-father and her father (long-believed dead) create a unique subplot and add to the theme that life is ever-changing.

Laura Caldwell weaves together a kaleidoscope of a tale that shows that many areas of life must be dealt with as profession and personal needs overlap and intermingle. Her chapters associated with killing confused and distracted from the otherwise fast-paced story. However, they faded in the background as the many characters propelled events along to a somewhat unusual, but satisfying happy-ever-after—not just for Izzy but for many others also.

A Claim of Innocence captivates—good entertainment!