Diana Palmer’s distinct style is displayed in good form in Lawless. If you enjoy – guilty or not – older, male, law enforcement heroes and younger, virginal, women in trouble, this may be the book for you. And if you regularly enjoy Diana Palmer, you won’t be able to pass on this one, and why would you?
Five years ago Texas Ranger Judd Dunn rescued 16-year-old Christabel Gaines from a savage beating inflicted by her drunken, enraged father. The 34-year-old Ranger made sure that her father was imprisoned for his actions, but this left Chrissie with a ranch to run and no one to take care of her. Coincidentally, the ranch’s co-owner is none other than Judd Dunn. What else could Dunn do other than marry the 16-year-old in secret – and in “name only?”
The book opens a few months before Chrissy comes of age and can become a full partner in the ranch with Judd, at which point the plan is to seek an annulment. But the ranch isn’t doing well financially and they’ve had to rent it out to a film company making a movie. When an actress on the movie puts the moves on Judd, the cute, clever (and apple pie baking) Chrissy, who’s secretly loved him for years, finds that her innocent involvement with one of Judd’s friends, also in law enforcement (both men are investigating some nefarious goings-on), may be just the thing to make him realize what he’s got – and just might lose.
Judd is a typical alpha male; he put caring for Chrissy and the ranch before any of his needs. His only solace has been his career in law enforcement. Chrissy is a spitfire, and very likable. Her flirty nature jumps off the page from the very start of the book. Palmer painted a vivid picture of a young girl full of life in my mind. Chrissy doesn’t let her circumstances get her down, manages to go to college when money’s tight, and plans ahead for life after Judd, all the while trying to lure him with sexy comments and innuendos. Unlike most heroines, particularly young ones, she knows what she wants and goes for it.
The heat between the two builds, and I had a great time watching the lid blow off. Judd walks around in a jealous haze, realizing Chrissy might want to get on with her life – without him. Chrissy gets angry when she sees Judd falling for the actress, and their jealousy and anger lead to a night of shared passion. It was great, until afterward when they did the “I love you, I want to be with you but I can’t” tug of war. A plot twist eventually leads them back to one another, but I did get frustrated in the interim.
While Judd and Chrissy share some terrific, believable dialogue and the chemistry between them is strong, it’s time to mention the book’s flaws. In addition to that annoying tug-of-war I mentioned, those looking for suspense (the book is billed as romantic suspense) won’t find much. This is a predictable read and the reader can see each plot twist before it comes. And, as much as I liked Chrissy, toward the end of the book she decides to run away from her problems. This was not true to her nature and seemed dictated more less by character than by plot.
Still, if you like Diana Palmer, you’ll no doubt thoroughly enjoy Lawless. It has all the elements her readers look for. A much older man rescues a younger woman and saves the day. They secretly yearn for each other, kept apart by guilt, and something evil lurks in the background threatening to destroy their love. They eventually work it out and have their HEA. I was satisfied and think you will be as well. All is right with the world.