Deadly Intent
Grade : B

Deadly Intent pretty much says it all: somebody intends to hurt somebody else. We know pretty much right off the bat that lovely gourmet chef and restauranteur Abbie DiAngelo is the intended victim, but who wants to harm her? There are enough suspects and red herrings to keep you guessing right up until you turn the page and discover it’s . . . it’s . . . oh, wait. Let me backtrack. I really should begin at the beginning.

Slimy scoundrel and ex-con Ian MacGregor has just been released from prison when he sees a TV broadcast featuring a renowned chef who just happens to have won a prestigious award and who just happens to be Abbie DiAngelo, the step-sister Ian hasn’t seen for 28 years. Assuming Abbie is rolling in dough (no pastry-chef pun intended), he forms a plan to bilk her out of $100,000 so he gathers up his old girlfriend, Rose, and heads for Princeton to put the bite on Abbie (no gourmet-chef pun intended). How he intends to do this involves a man on death row, the house fire 28 years ago that claimed Ian’s father’s life and scarred his sister Liz, and an old letter implicating Abbie’s mother in the fire.

But poor, dumb Ian has made many mistakes in his life and several enemies, and a dim-but-dangerous ex-con named Arturo has sworn to catch up with Ian if it’s the last thing he does. And so Arturo and his younger brother Tony are also en route to Princeton.

Abbie DiAngelo is happy. She’s been able to buy a small home for her mother, now in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s, and to provide full-time care for her as well. Abbie’s restaurant is successful, and her 9 year-old son, Ben, is the light of her life. When Ian MacGregor shows up with this fanciful tale that could destroy everything, Abbie carefully considers what to do before offering Ian a lesser sum – but still a hefty enough figure to placate him and bring her near bankruptcy. Grudgingly, Ian agrees.

But before Ian can collect, he’s viciously stabbed to death. The reader knows who’s responsible, and so does Abbie, and so does totally hot Princeton detective John Ryan, but finding the villain is another thing. Amidst this chaos, there is a child-molester-murderer at large who John’s partner is trying to catch, John’s ex-wife is being difficult about their son’s custody, a former employee of Abbie’s may-or-may-not be stalking her, and John’s faced with his growing attraction to Abbie, muddied because he knows she’s keeping something from him, but he also knows she’s totally innocent in all this.

Author Heggan has done a masterful job weaving the storylines of many different characters and several sub-plots together to keep the reader guessing about just who, exactly, is at the bottom of Abbie’s ultimate fate. I guessed wrong, and I never guess wrong. Got me, and well-done Ms. Heggan!

Each character in this story has a complex background, but the reader is not over-loaded with unnecessary information. The writing is tight, the tension unrelieved throughout. The only wish I really have is that this romantic suspense had a bit more romance in it. John Ryan is smart and handsome and gentlemanly and sexy and a couple of kisses with Abbie were simply not enough for me. However, having said that, if you like a lot of suspense in your romantic suspense, you might want to gobble this one up (no gourmet-dining pun intended).

Reviewed by Marianne Stillings

Grade: B

Book Type: Romantic Suspense

Sensuality: Kisses

Review Date : December 18, 2002

Publication Date: 2003

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