Janet Chapman, Author . Pocket Star $6.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-7434-8631-6

Coastal Maine serves as the appealing backdrop for this charming but clichéd novel of romantic suspense from Chapman (The Seductive Imposter) . When a lobsterman alerts state Assistant Attorney General Willow Foster to the presence of contaminants in Puffin Harbor, she begins a secret investigation. She's unofficially assisted by bar owner and former salvager Duncan Ross, whose offers of both marriage and passion she's been resisting since a one-night stand 18 months earlier. As the two explore both the corporate paper trail and the local seascape, Duncan reveals that he's actually a Scottish lord, while Willow is forced to grapple with her fear of commitment. The story's use of old-fashioned romantic conventions often seems silly in this modern context. Corporate polluters call their victims "Miss," while Duncan's sister's Internet lover arrives from New Zealand carrying family heirlooms to ask for permission to court. Chapman's mimicry of Duncan's brogue is also unfortunate, making him sound more like Popeye ("Can ya climb with yar splint?") than an aristocratic adventurer. This novel works best when it focuses on the timeless bonds between friends and family, community and place. Agent, Grace Morgan Literary Agency. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/28/2005
Release date: 04/01/2005
Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-4165-0689-8
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