Dirty little secrets --- addictions, infidelity, murder,
cover-ups, betrayal, desertion, lies. Not one of these vices can
stop romance from blossoming between accused murderer Grace
Caldwell and FBI special agent Breed Grayhawk in A STRANGER’S
GAME. Grace and Breed play with fire, hot on the trail of a
murderer and hotter as they explore their insatiable passion for
“A few husky words. A look of invitation.” When Grace
meets Breed’s eyes in the mirror above the bar, “the
attraction was immediate. And powerful.” Breed is soon
uttering, “What would it take to get you into bed?” Sex
under the Texas stars with a handsome, Stetson-wearing FBI agent
launches Grace’s plan to clear her name of this tragic double
murder. This all sounds like the latest Alan Jackson song, but the
scene is expertly played out on the pages of A STRANGER’S
GAME. New York Times bestselling author Joan Johnston
leads the novel with violence, inserts the power and passion of
romance and closes with trust.
Johnston rivets the reader with an opening scene of domestic
violence. Homicide cop Big Mike Finkel physically abuses his
13-year-old daughter Merle Raye; he then turns on her stepmother
Allie and beats her too. Merle Raye hates Big Mike and wishes he
were dead. When both Big Mike and Allie are found slain, Merle Raye
is wrongfully convicted and imprisoned. She emerges on parole,
takes the name of Grace Caldwell and sets out with a plan to seek
revenge against whoever framed her. After eight years in the Texas
Youth Commission’s high restriction facility at Giddings,
east of Austin, Texas, Grace had learned to be a criminal.
As she pursues the clues to her parents' murders, Grace uncovers a
shocking string of secrets that leads to a respected FBI special
agent, Vince Harkness, and his wife, Stephanie.
Grace turns to Breed to help her prove her innocence and expose
Vince, who happens to be Breed’s boss. Breed is torn between
his duty and Grace’s plea. But can Breed trust Grace? Lust is
a powerful motivator, and Breed succumbs to Grace’s blue eyes
and the compelling evidence in the diary she stole from Stephanie.
The race begins to clear Grace's name --- before she's set up
Addictions (sex, gambling, abuse, alcohol) and the powerful role
they play in shaping Grace, Breed and Jack create believable
characters who face fears born of painful childhood experiences.
Trust is a major issue, and how each finds the courage to close the
door on the past and indulge in a little fantasy defines Johnston
as a writer who can combine romance side by side with tragedy,
proving that there is magic in relationships and that love
is worth the risk.
Reviewed by Hillary Wagy on January 23, 2011