AFTERGLOW – Cherry Adair
Lodestone Series, Book 2
Pocket Star
ISBN: 978-1-439-15383-3
April 2012
Romantic Suspense

France and Greece – Present Day

Okay, you won't believe this, but the wedding that security specialist Rand Maguire is guarding in Monte Carlo is about to go from beautiful to devastating in a minute, and you will never guess what happens.  Obviously something was put in the champagne, and now all the guests are taking off their clothes, or as much as they need, and having sex with whoever is nearest.  It might be funny; the bride's grandmother and the groom's twenty-year-old brother getting it on, but if this gets out to the paparazzi, all the wedding guests (from Hollywood, no less) will have a hard time explaining what happened.  Not to mention Rand 's reputation as being the best in the security business will suffer.  When Rand calls his best friend to find someone who can be sent to Monte Carlo and figure out what drug was in the champagne, he never guesses they will send Dr. Dakota North, his ex-fiancée and the woman who gave his mother the drugs that killed her two years ago.  Or gave them to his father and his father killed her, it's up to the courts to figure that one out.  The hatred inside him is almost as large as the love he once had for her, and he can barely stand to look at her for the memories it brings up.

It's been two years since Rand ended their engagement with cruel words accusing Dakota of ruining his life and killing his mother.  Dakota was one of the scientists working on an anti-depressant drug called Rapture, along with Rand 's father; until Dakota found out that the drug lowered sexual inhibitions and in a large dose could kill.  When Rand 's mother died from a drug overdose, his father Paul was accused and put in prison in Italy until his trial, and he says Dakota was the person who gave his wife the drug.  Rand never even asked for her side of the story, and now his hatred is palpable, but she is the only one left, after the lab blew up right after the murder, who knows anything about the drug.  Soon Rand and Dakota are driving all over France and Greece , following the leads and deaths caused by Rapture.  Can they find out who has the ability to make the drug since everyone involved with its manufacture is dead except for Dakota and Rand 's father, who is in prison?

Hold on to your hat, this story has action written all over it.  While trying to figure out who is using Rapture and what they intend to do with it, Rand and Dakota are trying to get along with each other, even though the sword of their past relationship is hanging over their heads.  Rand is still amazingly hurt and irate over Dakota being there and looking so beautiful, and bringing up all the bad memories.  Dakota also never told Rand about her extra sensory abilities, and that further proves to him that she never told him the truth about anything in her life.  Dakota is just sad and upset by all the hurt feelings coming to the surface again, along with her attraction to Rand that she knows she will never get over. 

Cherry Adair is one of the premier writers of novels filled with suspense, action, and a conflict between the main characters, and AFTERGLOW is no different.  Written from the points of view of Rand and Dakota, their romantic connection is always there between them, even if it has been two years since they've seen each other.  The sadness, regret and hatred between them shimmers in the air, and it will take a lot to enable Rand to see what really happened back when their love was foremost in his mind, and when others strove to break them up, he accepted their lies.  Also there are brief glimpses of someone named Szik—controlled by the Monk—who is sick in the head from all the evil things he makes him do.  While I'm sure some of the situations are probably not very realistic, I easily suspended my saner self and followed the journey that Rand and Dakota take all over Europe .

There are many secondary characters that weave a web of lies around Dakota and Rand.  There's Rand 's father Paul, in jail for the murder of his wife, and the reason Rand thinks Dakota helped him.  All of the members of Rand 's protection team help him with the seemingly easy job of guarding a wedding of a prominent Hollywood couple, until all hell breaks loose.  How many of them are really loyal to Rand ? 

AFTERGLOW will take you on a rocket jet of a ride between the hilarity of the drug causing the wedding party to lose all inhibitions, and the way Rand and Dakota are thrown together.  They fear for their lives and go all over Europe trying to find out who is making the Rapture and what they intend to do with it.  If you like your action fast-paced and a man who is alpha and masculine, and a woman who is fiery and yet courageous, AFTERGLOW is the book for you this month.

Carolyn Crisher