cover image OUT OF THE STORM


JoAnn Ross, . . Pocket, $7.50 (416pp) ISBN 978-0-7434-6475-8

The final novel in Ross's Stewart Sisters romantic suspense trilogy fails to fulfill the series' original promise, though it's considerably stronger than the lackluster second installment, Out of the Blue . Immediately after Washington political journalist Laurel Stewart is wrongly fired for stealing secrets from the U.S. vice-president, her roommate, Chloe Hollister, goes missing. Concerned, Laurel visits the South Carolina port town where Chloe was last seen. After reporting the disappearance to detective Joe Gannon, she learns that a woman of similar description has died in a suspicious fall from a hotel balcony. The woman turns out not to be Chloe, but Laurel has a sudden psychic episode, which all too conveniently gives Joe his first clues to the woman's death. The two pair up to investigate further and, predictably, they forge a romantic bond in the process. Despite capable prose and pacing, the book lacks the warm family connections and rich Scottish flavor of the trilogy's first installment, Out of the Mist . Further weakened by an obvious villain and several blatant plot contrivances, this unremarkable effort never quite displays the full range of Ross's gifts. Agents, Robert Gottlieb and Jenny Bent. (Nov.)

Forecast: Despite the book's flaws and the weakness of the trilogy's previous entry, Ross's fans will likely take the plunge and propel this book onto extended bestseller lists.