cover image One Summer

One Summer

Karen Robards. Delacorte Press, $18.95 (345pp) ISBN 978-0-385-30836-6

Robards ( Nobody's Angel ) here mixes suspense with romance, with uneven results. Teacher Rachel Grant, the daughter of a prominent family, agrees to give a former student a job when he gets out of prison after serving 11 years on a murder conviction. Rachel has always believed that Johnny Harris did not kill the girl he was dating, but everyone else in their small Kentucky town thinks otherwise. Johnny liberates Rachel from her well-planned but lonely life, and their mutual attraction grows into a relationship between soul mates, scandalizing the townspeople. When another girlfriend of Johnny's turns up dead, Rachel staunchly defends him and searches for the real murderer; her loyalty allows Johnny to escape the past and begin his life again. Though Robards provides an entertaining read about romantic renewals, several elements combine to make the plot seem farfetched. Johnny's transformation from hoodlum to law student is too rapid, the identity and motive of the true murderer seem implausible, and characters are too sketchily developed to make their motivations credible. (Feb.)