William Goodnight is the notorious king of the Florida Panhandle. Shelley is daddy's little girl. So when she needs a job, he creates one in his real estate office. Little does he know that this particular act of nepotism could lead to the downfall of his shady empire.
Shelley reluctantly accepts her father's help. After divorcing her college sweetheart, she moves into her own apartment. Living alone for the first time, she is determined to become independent.
She is off to a fresh start when the unthinkable happens. On a beach camping trip with her friends, she stumbles across the body - of ironically - her co-worker Farrell Gilbert. When the police arrive at the scene, Shelley's path crosses with Deputy Clay Cameron who finds himself instantly attracted to her.
Don Yearwood, Clay's fellow police officer, holds a familial grudge against the Goodnights. Farrell Gilbert was his cousin, and he is determined to hold Shelley and her father accountable for his murder. The history between the families is filled with blood and betrayal and Don is determined to seek revenge.
When Shelley is taken to the police station for questioning, Daddy once again comes to the rescue with his longtime friend and business partner, Attorney Kendall Shapiro. Shapiro is in the midst of a U.S. Senate campaign and the demands of William Goodnight are not a top priority. The power struggle between the two friends is brought to the forefront with Shelley's involvement in finding Farrell Gilbert's body.
Clay becomes an integral part of Shelley's life. He offers his protection when he begins to suspect that things are not what they seem with Farrell Gilbert's death. The two are drawn together as Hurricane Ivan strikes the Panhandle and a hit man is set on Shelley's trail.
The relationship between Shelley and Clay is portrayed in an chivalrous light. Having grown up on a farm, the gentlemanly ways of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson are instilled in Clay's character. He insists on separate bedrooms when he harbors Shelley at his house. He is the first to say, "I love you," and to bring up the subject of marriage and children. Shelley is at times frustrated by his restraint, but can't help falling in love with his honest and open nature. However, she revels in the thought of giving up her newly-found independence to settle down with him.
The novel is fast-paced and can be read in two sittings. The font and type size are easy on the eye. The chapters are short in length with cliffhanger endings that make you want to turn the page. There are a lot of character names to keep track of and the "who-done-it" aspect is alluded to before the final climatic scene. Shelley is a fully fleshed out character who has flaws and doubts. She is actively working through the issues in her life. Supporting characters are a bit one-dimensional such as Shelley's devoted mother or they exhibit abrupt 360º personality shifts like William Goodnight's switch from protector to perpetrator. The motivations behind the plot are plausible, however, the main causes are caught up mainly in the back story that occurred before the time of the novel.
Overall, it is a great work of escapist fiction when all you want to do is curl up with a good book.
And Night Falls by Tommie Lyn is available for $14.99 at Amazon.com and TommieLyn.com.
A complimentary review copy was provided by Tommie Lyn.
Enter to win a FREE copy of And Night Falls by leaving a comment below along with your email address. A winner will be chosen on January 1, 2010.
Congratulations to our winner: Cheryl Malandrinos!