The hands-on effort of restoring a vintage house relaxes Cord Harrison, top architect. Plus, it helps him escape the punishing awareness that a woman he dated has been murdered.

Emily McKay is an artist who paints walls to support herself and her brother. When she first arrives to paint for Cord, she takes him for the plumber, but their mutual interest soon makes the job more interesting, until another female acquaintance of Cord's is killed and his hopelessly amorous secretary is attacked.

Suddenly Cord becomes protective of his diminutive, red-haired painter, but her fierce independence isn't making matters easy. Only the destruction of her artistic ceiling mural convinces Emily of the danger. Can she trust Cord with her life, with her heart?

Humor lies within Jill Sheldon's deft pen, relieving the underlying tension of murderous threat and house-building. Two intriguing love-interest characters and smooth prose makes her novel a winner. (May, 389 pp., $3.99)

Reviewed by: 
Gerry Benninger