cover image Tender Escape

Tender Escape

Candice Poarch. Arabesque, $5.99 (256pp) ISBN 978-1-58314-082-6

Twelve years have passed since the hit-and-run death of Olivia Hammond's husband, and the mystery of what happened to the booty of the gold heist he was allegedly involved in only weeks before his death remains unsolved. Now 38, Olivia is the owner of a successful day spa and mother of two well-adjusted adult children; her biggest problems are shedding the extra 30 pounds she's gained over the years and finding a cure for empty-nest syndrome. Her stable world is turned upside down when she becomes the target of an anonymous extortionist threatening to uncover incriminating evidence on her deceased husband. After unwisely caving in to the blackmailer's initial demand, Olivia hires a private investigator, Clifton Zayne, instead of involving the police. More determined than ever to catch the culprit after a second letter threatens her children, Olivia is soon spending long hours undercover and on stakeouts with the handsome PI. Poarch's (Intimate Secrets) mix of business and pleasure is only half successful; mystery fans will find the blackmail plot well paced, but there may not be enough believable romantic chemistry between the ordinary characters to sustain all readers' interest. (Feb.)