REVIEW:  Amazing Grace by Eve Gaddy

REVIEW: Amazing Grace by Eve Gaddy

“It’s a match made in Heaven with the Sheriff from Hell–Hell, Texas, that is. Grace O’Malley is the sheriff of Bandido County in southwest Texas. Posing as an EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) investigator, Max Ridell is an undercover Texas Ranger, looking to bust an illegal-alien smuggling ring, and the Sheriff’s office is high on the list of suspects. Max can’t reconcile the honest, hardworking Grace with a smuggler of illegal aliens, nor can he ignore his immediate attraction to her. As for Grace, she can’t seem to fit the sexy Max into the role of a nerdy, EPA agent. That doesn’t keep her for falling for him, a man who doesn’t believe in love. He’s been down that road before and knows it never works out.When the truth about Max’s real reason for being in Hell comes out, Grace feels hurt and betrayed. Still, they must work together to bust the smuggling ring, without either of them getting killed. Can she forgive him for lying to her? And if so, can she make him see that what they have can last a lifetime?”

Dear Ms. Gaddy,

“Amazing Grace” has a great, atmospheric start. Max is on his back on the hot asphalt just having been punched by the town bully and his vision is that of Grace’s black cowboy boots. I can immediately tell that Max isn’t going to have it easy in “Hell, Texas” and that the town lives up to its name. But I did think it slightly strange that Grace would almost let Max be strangled in front of her eyes before she finally steps in. She does cleverly manage to take control of the situation with the fire extinguisher to break it up. Women have to use their brains when up against brawn.

amazing-grace┬áSo, the plot and characters are interesting: Grace as the sheriff of a small border county with past issues of her father not being cleared of bribery charges and Max as an undercover Texas Ranger who really ought to have checked out a bit of EPA history in this neck of the woods. There are some loveable and not so loveable small town inhabitants including a klepto post mistress – I would worry about my mail there – several ranchers more inclined to shoot first before asking who is on their land and Grace’s best friend who is – I should have seen this one coming – an expert flirt.

Max’s reason to be there – to investigate illegal smuggling of immigrants – with his cover of being an EPA agent, which is despised by locals, is reasonable. It’s very amusing that he keeps getting arrested. Grace is obviously good at her job and dedicated to it.

Things are going along well but headed more towards standard romance with some mystery – who killed the young Chinese man and set things up to look like a local did it by accident (shooting at coons by the motel dumpster)? Who is the local person behind smuggling ring – not too many choices there – and will Max stay out of jail for a day? Did whoever slashed his tires know what he’s really up to? And what will happen between he and Grace with all their smoldering despite Grace’s not too recent dating?

Then it starts to go downhill for me. Grace becomes the up-until-now virgin with Max as her “despoiler.” She’s been defiled! Yes, defiled by him. WTF? People still use that word even in 1998 when this was published? Oh and Max has issues with women due to arguments with his deceased wife – who was due to divorce him but she was diagnosed with cancer and Max stayed with her for the last year of her life. How noble and how much a nod to conservative sensibilities not to have a divorced hero. Really? Maybe this would have been handled differently today but the combo here just makes Grace look like a throwback to an age when women were supposed to be unsullied heroines with no sexual history and Max look like a hero who secretly likes it that way. Until I got to this part, I hadn’t realized just how much it would annoy me but annoy me it did. There’s also the issue that Max still isn’t sure whether or not Grace is part of the smuggling ring and sleeping with her is damn unprofessional.

At this point, I skipped ahead to the end to see whodunnit and it was the only other person who was a suspect. Big surprise there. It’s a pity to see such a good start peter out to same old, same old with a dollop of old fashioned to go with it. I do think the new cover is an improvement on the old Loveswept one. DNF