Susan Wiggs, Author . Warner $6.99 (419p) ISBN 978-0-446-61078-0

One February night, the car of politician Victor Winslow and his wife, Sandra, skids off an icy bridge. Afterwards, Victor is missing and presumed dead, and his wife is widely suspected of his murder despite the official conclusion that the crash was an accident. Finding that her hometown—ironically named Paradise—is a haven no longer, a dazed and shocked Sandra decides to renovate and sell her old beach house in order to finance a move. Mike Malloy, the contractor she hires, is an expert on historic restoration and a single dad struggling to rebuild his life after a punishing divorce. Sandra and Mike move warily toward love and healing as the house is painstakingly restored. In the process, Mike pushes Sandra toward clues that might explain Victor's fate and clear her name forever. Wiggs's characterizations are strong, particularly the portrait she paints of Mike, who is at once a fantasy romantic hero and a convincing modern man; even minor characters such as Sandra's warring parents and Mike's confused kids jump off the page with a winning blend of realism and warmth. A richly textured story that successfully moves beyond the conventions of the romance genre, this book will polish Wiggs's already glowing reputation. Agent, Meg Ruley. (Feb.)