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Whispers At Midnight    by Karen Robards order for
Whispers At Midnight
by Karen Robards
Order:  USA  Can
Atria, 2003 (2003)
Hardcover, Audio, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Rashmi Srinivas

After a bitter divorce in which she emerges the loser, Carly Linton piles what little belongings she has left into a U-Haul, and returns to the sleepy little Georgia town which was once her home. She has plans to convert the Victorian mansion inherited from her grandmother into a B&B. In the dead of the night Carly arrives in Benton with her overgrown and lazy Himalayan tom cat Hugo and her friend, business partner and chef extraordinaire, Sandra.

They panic when they discover a prowler at the mansion, which is enveloped in darkness. As the two women take off screaming like banshees, the man comes after Carly and tackles her, which is when she discovers to her shock that the prowler is none other Matt Converse, the guy who was once her best friend and who later broke her heart. A saucepan wielding Sandra comes to Carly's unneeded rescue, which is when they discover that Sandra just assaulted the Sheriff of Benton! However, once they enter the mansion, the two women meet up with the real prowler, which results in some hilarious as well as danger-filled scenes.

Sheriff Matt Converse, the town's former poster boy for trouble, is stunned to find Carly Linton back in his life. When they were kids, Matt always treated Carly like a fourth sister. But the glorious night of the prom when they became lovers destroyed their friendship. It left Matt filled with regret and guilt, and Carly with anger and heartbreak. Resolving not to tread the same path again, Matt tries to keep his distance. But when danger begins to dog Carly, Matt is unable to stay away and soon the passion between them is too strong for either to resist. As their ardor soars, so does their peril. With the help of a cute stray dog, Matt rapidly comes to the horrifying conclusion that a murderer has chosen Carly for his next victim. Will Matt be able to save Carly? Will Carly ever get this commitment-phobic bachelor to acknowledge his true feelings for her?

Karen Robards, the acclaimed author of more than 25 popular novels, has once again created magic with this latest release, Whispers at Midnight. She gives us a suspenseful and fast-moving plot with ample doses of humor to break the hair-raising tension. Carly and Matt are well developed, very likeable, human characters, and their constant battles of word and wit make for sometimes hilarious, sometimes serious reading. Theirs is essentially the battle of the sexes, with Carly desiring love and permanence and Matt running as fast as he can.

But the author has put a humorous and loopy twist to this old theme, which greatly spices up the entire story. Side characters like Sandra, Matt's three sisters and their varied paramours, the nosy neighbors, and the other cops are well-developed, and even the two animals in the book - Hugo the cat and Annie the dog, provide a lot of fun with their mutual antipathy. An ideal mix of laughter and danger, this novel holds readers riveted with its charming Southern setting, blazing sexual tension and spine-chilling whodunit tension. All in all, Whispers at Midnight is a fast, funny, exhilarating read that no one should miss.

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