SOMEONE WANTED HER DEAD...
But the only man who could keep proudly independent Tamara Greystone safe was brooding crime scene investigator Clay James, who insisted she do things his way if she wanted to see tomorrow. Terrified by a crazed stalker, the Native American teacher had no choice but to move in with her stubborn, sexy protector. But who would come to her heart's rescue? Because living with this man, touching him, kissing him, was the last thing she needed. And the very thing she wanted.
Good book. In the previous books of the series, Clay's mother has gone missing and he and his sisters are determined to find her. By this book, she has been gone several months. While putting in as much time as possible on that investigation, Clay also has other cases to deal with. The latest is a call to the local high school, where summer school teacher Tamara's classroom has been viciously vandalized.
Tamara is an artist and teacher who has been teaching a class on Cherokee legends. She arrives at school one day to discover that her room has been trashed. Both she and Clay believe that it is a disgruntled student and that there's not too much to worry about. Clay just wants to catch whoever it is so he can get back to his mother's case. But when a dead animal is left on her doorstep, and then her house is also vandalized, he can't deny that the danger is increasing.
Complicating matters is the attraction that burns between Tamara and Clay. Neither of them is very happy about it. Tamara returned to Cherokee Corners after time spent in New York City. There she got involved with a man who wreaked havoc with her sense of self, especially her self-worth as a Native American. After coming home, she swore she would not get involved with another man who was not Native and did not fully appreciate his heritage. Clay has turned his back on his heritage, wanting nothing to do with any of it. This makes both of them realize that a relationship between them isn't wise.
I enjoyed seeing their relationship develop. The attraction can't be denied, and no matter how they try, they continue to be drawn to each other. Clay is pretty closed off emotionally, especially suffering from some guilt over an argument with his mother before she disappeared. He is determined to keep messy emotions out of his life, preferring the logic of the science he works with. But the more time he spends with Tamara, the more he finds that she brings a sense of peace to his life. He's terribly confused by it, which makes him even grumpier.
Tamara is just as drawn to him, which doesn't make her any happier. She knows that he has turned his back on his heritage, something she doesn't understand, and has sworn to stay away from. But there is something about him that speaks to her own soul and she can't stop wanting to help him. I really liked the way that she was there for him when the stress of his job got to him. She sees that there is more to him than he wants to admit, but doesn't push him about it, until she can no longer deny her feelings for him. I ached for them both when he pushes her away. It's a discussion from an unexpected source that opens Clay's eyes to why he's become as he is, and that he can change it if he wants to. I liked the ending, as it showed a realistic desire to change and grow without making it look easy.
The mysteries in the book were really well done. There were three of them. Central to this book is who is tormenting Tamara and why. I found the use of the legend fascinating, and how the attacker was using it. It was definitely scary and intense, with the final confrontation a truly frightening experience. I loved Clay's protectiveness, and also Tamara's self-reliance as she has a big part in her own rescue. Also occurring through the books is a case of a serial killer, who kills men and leaves them naked in places around town. Whoever is doing it leaves no clue behind for the CSI team to use. At the end of this book, three men have died, and the killer is still at large. The third mystery is that of Clay's missing mother. Clay is doubly frustrated because of the lack of evidence there also. Until one tiny piece is discovered. I loved seeing how Tamara makes a connection that Clay, as a man, hadn't picked up on. I have to say that I wasn't surprised by who the kidnapper was, and ached for Clay's feelings of betrayal. I really enjoyed how all three were interwoven through the book.