Following her grandmother's death and her home's destruction by a fierce storm, Maine resident Annie Payne decides to move to San Francisco and open an art gallery. Annie and Otto, her faithful rottweiler, are adjusting to their new environment when a mysterious client named Sarah requests Annie's assistance. Sarah's work is so promising that Annie willingly takes on the unusual commission to gain Sarah's trust. A study in contradictions, Sarah suffers from arthritis and dresses like a bag lady, yet has an essence about her that spells class.

Sarah requests that Annie attend an auction and buy one painting. Annie fulfills Sarah's request, but finds herself involved in a bidding war with Garvin MacCrae. What Annie doesn't learn until later is that the painting is of Garvin's murdered wife, Haley, and that Sarah is the artist. Five years ago, Haley Linwood MacCrae and her grandfather Thomas were brutally murdered. It was suspected that Vic Denardo committed the murders, possibly at the behest of his girlfriend Sarah, Haley's aunt. Both Vic and Sarah disappeared, and now Garvin wants Annie to lead him to Sarah.

Annie is torn between her loyalty to Sarah and her growing feelings for Garvin. Danger begins swirling around her when Vic suddenly reappears, also wanting to locate Sarah. Can or should Annie protect her?

Carla Neggers is back with another tempting tale loaded with excitement and passion. (Mar., 292 pp., $5.99)

Reviewed by: 
Jill M. Smith