by TL Schaefer, contemporary (2004)
Atlantic Bridge, $5.00, ISBN 1-931761-83-3
TL Schaefer returns to Mariposa County (last featured in her previous book The Summerland which took place a few years ago from this story) for another romantic suspense. This time around, Sheriff Doug Brewster is the hero and he is called when a member of the local white-supremacy hate group, the Brotherhood of Freedom, shows up dead. When Doug doesn't have to deal with the group's leader Reverend Charles, he finds himself dealing with Josie Galloway, a Wiccan high priestess haunted by dreams that may or may not be related to Eli Miller's death. The two main characters showed up in The Summerland previously and this is their chance to shine, so to speak, in their own romantic suspense story. The main characters of the previous story naturally show up to lend a hand.
The Brotherhood is a much better book than The Summerland because the author doesn't try to tackle too many things like she did in the previous book and concentrate on developing the fundamental plot points of her story. One good thing that may please Wiccan readers is that Josie is a pretty convincing Wiccan. I can't vouch for the accuracy of her depiction since I'm not even close to being an expert on Wiccanism, but Josie comes off like a normal practising Wiccan rather than some kooky dingbat stereotype constantly blabbling about destiny and dreams shooting out of some rainbow crystal. Doug is a decent hero as well - I like how he and Josie already have a friendship going prior to this story, so their romance develops from somewhere instead of a typical "let's have them get into bed somewhere in the middle of the story and that's enough for the romance part" affair present in too many romantic suspenses. I also like Doug is smart enough to brush aside her mother's crazy rantings about Josie burning in hell for being a witch - clearly this man is an adult who knows that he doesn't have to do obey his mother in everything, heh.
My only complain is the fact that the villains are quite obvious and the story hurtles towards a predictable denouement. But still, on the whole, The Brotherhood may not offer anything that I haven't encountered somewhere else before but it is well-written enough to offer me a pleasantly enjoyable time.
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