I’m a big fan of Elizabeth Hoyt’s historical romances so when I saw this contemporary written under a different name I thought I would give it a try. Maisa Bradley, May as Sam calls her, has been stopped for speeding. Again. Coot Lake cop, Sam West has been pulling her over for the better part of two years. Other than one intense night it has been an exercise in futility for him.
May gave in to her desires one night and now she can’t get Sam out of her head. It was a spectacular night but they live on opposite sides of the law. Not that May does anything illegal but her family is old mob. She saw what happened to her mother when she married an upstanding man and she will not make the same mistake. She will guard her heart and not let Sam in.
Sam is pretty determined though and won’t give up on them. After stopping her another time both of them are surprised by the out of control car speeding past them. The car losing traction on the ice and snow and ends up in a ditch. Sam does his duty and offers the nervous man a ride to a local hotel and May to her uncle’s house.
When they are dropped off there is a mix up with suitcases and May finds herself in possession of three millions dollars worth of pink diamonds. Since her uncle was previously a mob man and the person she got the diamonds from is Russian, she thinks there is a connection. She wants to hide everything though and thinks maybe if she can just return them, it will all go away. She wakes up the next morning to find the diamonds and her uncle gone and Sam waiting for her on the doorstep.
When the big bad guys show up in Coot Lake wanting their diamonds back, Sam, a couple of small town cops, May and her uncle and the residents of Coot Lake are standing in their way. Sam’s protective instincts take over and he will do what it takes to keep May safe even if that means taking on the mob.
Once and Always is a fast paced book but it has issues deciding whether it wants to be a thriller or a romance. Unfortunately neither subject wanted to step forward and shine. The violence that takes place is kind of silly and over the top. Most of the town is shot up and Sam is something out of the Wild West with his heroism and swaggering attitude. It is portrayed as him being protective and manly but the romance of it falls flat too. There are sex scenes stuck at odd and inappropriate times which seem emphasize the unbelievable story taking place.
Overall, I didn’t care for the book as either romance or thriller. It felt disjointed and lacking. I don’t think I ever learned enough about the characters to care whether they were in love or not. Sadly, this one didn’t work for me. I think I will stick with her wonderful historicals. Final grade- C-
“Anytime you walk in the room I can’t take my eyes off you. Anytime time you walk out I have to physically stop myself from following you. I like your bitchiness. I like that you get right in my face. And sweetheart, I adore the way you stand by your criminal of an uncle. You’re everything I’ve ever wanted, May.”