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Back Roads    by Susan Crandall order for
Back Roads
by Susan Crandall
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2003 (2003)

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* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Sheriff Leigh Mitchell gives in to a sudden and very uncharacteristic impulse when she agrees to ride the Ferris wheel with a complete stranger. There was just something about Will Scott that begged further investigation - he was a dark and mysterious temptation she couldn't resist. After the ride is over he asks her to join him for a beer and again Leigh finds herself unable to say no. Then Will asks her to dance -- and what a dance it is. It leaves the whole town buzzing and wondering what got into their smart and sensible sheriff. Leigh knows exactly what's gotten into her -- she's thirty years old, stuck in a rut and tired of proving herself just as capable at her job as a man. It's time for a change and the arrival of Will Scott might just be enough to nudge her toward a new path in her stagnant life.

Will also acted on impulse in coming to Glens Crossing. As a young boy he'd spent one summer in the rustic Indiana town with his aunt -- it was idyllic, the happiest time he remembered. Will knows he shouldn't stay or even make friends. His very life depends on him keeping on the move. But all he wants is to forget about his past and the dark secrets that have forced him into hiding. As the days stretch into weeks, and Will and Leigh become lovers, he knows that any future with her is impossible. But he finds it equally impossible to leave this woman and the town that continues to captivate him with its normalcy. All his hopes are shattered when a local girl goes missing and suspicion falls on Will. Both he and Leigh are determined to uncover the truth, but can they do so before Will's past catches up with him?

Newcomer Susan Crandall has written a rich, character driven story in Back Roads. The immediate attraction between Leigh and Will is palpable and wonderfully sustained throughout the story. It might seem that Crandell keeps readers in the dark about Will's past for a few too many chapters, but once his secrets are revealed, it becomes very clear that his silence was to protect the woman he loves. Back Roads is an accomplished and very satisfying first novel. Add Susan Crandall to your list of authors to watch.

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