Jayne Ann Krentz, . . Jove, $7.99 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-515-13341-7

The final installment in Krentz's Eclipse Bay trilogy (Dawn in Eclipse Bay, etc.) centers around thriller writer Nick Harte, the handsome scion of one of the tiny town's most prominent families. In the two years since the death of his wife, single dad Nick hasn't even been tempted to let a woman get close. But when he meets gallery owner Octavia Brightwell, his defenses finally crumble. Though she can't deny Nick's many attractions, Octavia herself is far from avid for romance. Then a valuable painting disappears from her gallery's safekeeping, and the local rumor mill suggests that Octavia herself is the culprit. Figuring that a man who writes about criminal investigation is the closest to a private eye that Eclipse Bay has to offer, Octavia enlists Nick to help discover the real culprit. Along the way, he has plenty of opportunities to scrutinize the town's weirder inhabitants and form a relationship with Octavia. Though Krentz's signature comic banter is slightly more subdued here, her playfully intelligent voice retains all of its characteristic charm. Scenes featuring the eccentric townspeople are strained at times, but the lighthearted warmth of the romantic sequences and the appearances of Nick's precocious son, Carson—a wonderful combination of budding tycoon and ordinary five-year-old boy—more than make up for the occasional lull. (May 7)