Dr. Elizabeth Iverson is a dedicated cardiologist on staff of an exclusive Chicago heart center catering to the affluent. An overachiever by nature, medicine is Elizabeth’s life – or was until five years earlier when her precious daughter was born. Not wanting the father’s interference and assuring herself that he wouldn’t want to be involved anyway, Elizabeth has kept her daughter’s existence a secret from him hoping that she would never see him again.
FBI Special Agent Drake McGuire has been forced by his employer to take an extended holiday. After receiving an anonymous announcement of a fund-raising affair at which old flame Elizabeth is scheduled to speak, Drake decides to return to Chicago, visit family, and take advantage of the opportunity to see his old love. It’s been six years since Drake and Elizabeth shared a wild fling one weekend and he hasn’t seen her since. Their time ended tragically when Drake was shot that Sunday afternoon and, to make matters worse, Elizabeth then disappeared without a word. He has never forgotten their time together and now wants to know the reason behind her sudden departure.
Surprised to see Drake after all these years, the pleasure Elizabeth feels over his appearance is quickly replaced with dread and she attempts to discourage his interest. When she returns home later that night, she finds her best friend murdered and Drake on her doorstep taking charge of the situation. Shocked at the nightmarish scene but thankful her daughter wasn’t home, Elizabeth is taken aback when she realizes that the police believe she may have been the intended victim. Fearing for her life, as well as taking advantage of the opportunity to be close to Elizabeth, Drake assumes the duty of 24 hour protection placing them in close quarters.
Elizabeth is a strong character, make no mistake, and insists on leading her life as normally as possible despite the unsettling events that surround her. Unfortunately, her strength often fails to translate into wisdom as she repeatedly teeters on the edge of TSTL behavior and refuses to use even the most basic precautions while conducting the daily activities of her life. But Elizabeth’s dedication to her daughter is effective in that it both softens her character and makes her more attractive to Drake.
I must admit that I am one who enjoys the savior aspect of a FBI hero stepping into the investigation of a local crime to save his woman, regardless if he assigned to the case or not. But Drake’s method of forcing his FBI credentials upon local police made me question his integrity, rather than fully support his overzealous approach to solving the case. Just how does an FBI agent use the Bureau’s resources and clout on a case that is clearly out of their jurisdiction?
Although the romance between Drake and Elizabeth is a satisfying one, it’s not especially memorable for me since dishonesty between the leads usually detracts, rather than enhances, the couple’s overall appeal. The strength of Heartbeats lies within its suspense, which is better than average and will keep you guessing for most of the book.
Elizabeth’s big secret and her obsessive need for control carried a good bit of weight when grading this book. And, although I felt sympathy for Drake who was basically a decent hero with an acceptable amount of charm and sex appeal, it was the number of interesting secondary characters, the precious actions of Elizabeth’s daughter, and the intriguing mystery that lead to my qualified recommendation for Rae’s new romantic suspense novel.