Petal, Georgia #3
When Caroline was almost 16, her mother was murdered. Her father was discovered, catatonic, holding her mother's body. The police decided he was the killer and never looked anywhere else. Her father was half Mexican and half Cuban. The police were racists. Caroline's sister was only 5 and her brother was 2. Her grandparents took the kids and pushed Caroline away for many reasons. Her uncle from California came and took her away. Her father's family finished raising her and sent her to college and law school. She was determined to clear her father's name. But after three appeals, the process was over and her father died in jail.
Caroline wanted to try again with her family in Georgia. She sold her home and quit her job in Seattle and moved home to Petal. She got a job working for Edward Chase.
On her first day in Petal, he ran into a guy she had a crush on in high school - Royal Watson. He still looked fantastic. He asked her out. She said yes. They have a serious attraction for each other. They get close very fast. But complications with her father's case and his ex come between them.
Can their love keep them together? Someone broke into her apartment, and vandalized her car. Is it the killer? Is he coming after Caroline?
I loved this story. Caroline and Royal belonged together. I liked that there was another element to the story besides romance.
From the author:
Petal is the last place Caroline Mendoza thought she’d end up. Sixteen years ago she lost both parents there—her mother to murder and her father to prison for the crime. Since then she’s built a successful life, but she’s never let go of the belief her father is innocent.
Now she’s back in Petal to find the truth. With a new job and a mystery to solve, she’s got plenty on her plate. But when she bumps into Royal Watson, the sparks fly hard and fast.
When the whipsmart, opinionated lawyer blows into town like a beautiful storm, Royal has a reason to make the time to get off his organic farm and pursue her. And soon their intense attraction is tipping into something more.
As Caroline’s dogged investigation digs up ghosts of the past, there’s not much time for basking in love’s glow. The closer she gets to the truth, the more threatened the real killer gets…and the greater the danger that all her digging could lead to her own grave.
Caroline adjusted the front of her blouse as she waited in the elegantly appointed reception area of the Law Offices of Chase and Chase.
She’d prepared for the interview much the same way a general might prepare for war. Every contingency had been planned for. Every possible question she might be asked needed to have an answer.
All the research and preparation kept her mind off being back in Petal for good instead of one of her usual visits, which tended to last just a few days.
The receptionist, as pretty and elegant as the walnut furniture and framed black-and-white photographs of Petal over the last century plus, spoke quietly over the phone and then turned her attention to Caroline.
“They’re ready for you now.”
She led Caroline into a small conference room where three men, all clearly related, stood upon her entrance.
“Ms. Mendoza, it’s a pleasure to meet you.” One of the men, she recognized from the pictures on the website—the younger of the Chase brothers who ran the firm—held out a hand. “Peter Chase.”
She took it. “Nice to meet you as well. Caroline Mendoza.”
The silver fox she knew was Edward Chase smiled at her, warm and open as he held his hand out. “Edward Chase.”
She shook his hand and objectified him. In her head of course, she wasn’t a savage.
He was the next generation, she knew. Peter’s youngest son.Edward indicated a chair. “Please sit. Would you like some tea or some coffee?”
“No, thank you.”
Clearly Edward was in charge as he conducted the interview. He led her through the interview basics. Asked her what drove her.
Finally, Peter Chase broke in. “Why then? Why make the move from a city where you’d built a successful practice, where you could bill nearly four hundred dollars an hour, to Petal where you’ll be lucky to make half that. And not even a third of that on those two or three cases we take on from the county?”
“Some things have happened recently that led me to reevaluate my life and my future. I was born and raised here. Lived here until I was sixteen. My sister and brother live here with my maternal grandparents. My brother is about to graduate high school and head off to college. I just want to be around them more than a few times a year. Life is too short to be halfway across the country. I’ve missed enough of their lives.”
Read more here.