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Never Walk Alone    by Paula Detmer Riggs order for
Never Walk Alone
by Paula Detmer Riggs
Order:  USA  Can
Onyx, 2003 (2003)
* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

As a young man of seventeen Michael Sullivan is involved in a terrible accident that kills a school bus driver and three children. He swears the driver ran a red light but other witnesses cast doubt on his version of the horrible event, including younger brother John. Not even Michael's father stands up for him. After serving a four-year prison sentence, Michael assumes a new name, Rhys Hazard, thereby wiping out the last painful tie to his past. He's already severed all links to his family and vows never to set foot in Osuma again.

Over the course of the next twenty years he builds up a successful company, North Star Trucking, based in Arizona. When a flood ravages his old home town, destroying not only historical landmarks but also much of the town's livelihood, including his father's fruit company, Rhys steps in to help, if anonymously. He buys out his father's warehouse with the intent of setting up a new West Coast base of operations. With his right hand man, Hank Dunnigan, set to take over the helm in Osuma, no one need know about Rhys's involvement. But when a car accident seriously injures Hank, Rhys is forced to take over the reins of the transition.

Brina Sullivan's father may have been able to forgive Michael Sullivan for killing her brother, but she hasn't found it in her heart to do so. As far as she's concerned her ex-husband's elder brother is solely responsible not only for robbing her of her beloved sibling, but also for causing the premature deaths of her parents. Recently divorced, Brina is now owner of a struggling bed and breakfast. When she discovers that Rhys Hazard is really Michael Sullivan and that he'll be staying at her inn indefinitely, her first instinct is to throw him out. However, she needs the money, and both she and Hazard agree to stay out of each other's way for the duration.

Unfortunately circumstances continually throw them together and Brina soon learns that Rhys is a far cry from the young and angry teenager who made a terrible mistake. He's a grown man who wakes up each morning, still burdened with guilt yet determined to go on with his life. He's also a man to whom she finds herself undeniably attracted. Rhys too, finds himself drawn to Brina's kind and warm heart and drawn back into the lives of the townspeople he'd sworn to forget.

A long time shining star in category romance for her emotionally charged novels, Paula Detmer Riggs finally returns to the mainstream lists with another hard-to-put-down story and one that is a sequel of sorts to her 1999 release, Taming the Night. Never Walk Alone is one of those wonderfully character rich, insightful and poignant books that don't come along often enough. It's a story about loss, the power of forgiveness and of love -- and a story that begs to be read over and over again. Don't miss it!

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