Alone in Forrester Rock
By Alane
Jun 29, 2004 - 10:34:00 AM

Victoria Valentino is stunned.  She works at an art gallery in New York City and suddenly discovers that a smuggling ring is operating right under her nose.  And her gentle, loving fiancé Brock Montgomery is right in the middle of it!  She escapes the smugglers during a shoot-out with police, but her life has been irrevocably altered.  Victoria is immediately placed in the Witness Protection Program and her friends and family are told that she was killed in the shoot-out.  She is whisked away to begin a new life in Forrester Rock, West Virginia as Tori Russo, a wildlife preservation researcher.

When Tori arrives in Forrester Rock, she has no idea what kind of welcome she’ll receive.  She’s a city girl, unfamiliar with small town life.  How will she fit in?  She’s somewhat relieved after meeting Postmaster and general town gossip Mable, but she feels guilty when Mable mentions that Tori’s new home was previously occupied by a drifter.  She feels even worse when she realizes the trouble the man has gone through to fix things up and stock the cabin for her.  And when she sees him, her breath catches.  He’s an arrestingly handsome man with a muscular build and sandy hair, and his eyes are the most unusual shade of blue she’s ever seen.

Walker Garrison mostly keeps to himself.  Although he’s aloof and not very friendly, he has always pitched in when needed.  He finds himself lending a hand to Tori and coming to her rescue more than once.  Forrester Rock may be a small town but it still has its share of unsavory characters, and a beautiful woman like Tori attracts plenty of notice.  When Tori offers to let Walker stay in her spare bedroom, he wonders if it’s out of a sense of guilt or for protection.  He doubts Tori has anything else in mind.

Tori isn’t sure whether she has anything else in mind either.  She’s mourning the loss of her old life, the family and friends she’ll never see again, even her cat.  She lives in constant fear of being exposed, or being discovered by the smugglers and killed for real.  And after Brock, she doesn’t have much faith in her judgment.  But as Tori shares living quarters with Walker, a cautious friendship develops.  She wants to confide in him but she just can’t take the risk, even after Walker opens up about his own past and his reasons for spending time in Forrester Rock.  Also, there is growing desire on both sides, and the temptation for a physical connection is hard to resist!  But with her secrets, Tori wonders if it would be fair to either of them if she gives in.  Like it or not, both have let their emotions become involved.  What kind of relationship can they have when her entire life is based on a lie?

ALONE IN FORRESTER ROCK contains some suspenseful elements, but mainly focuses on the Tori and Walker and their growing relationship. Tori is much tougher than she appears, flexible enough to deal with the devastating changes in her life.  Walker is sensitive – it isn’t easy to get close to him, but it’s well worth the effort.  They complement each other, and I hoped they would realize it!  A few secondary characters - including the misguided Brock Montgomery and several townspeople - make significant contributions, enhancing the overall story without becoming distractions.  There are surprises along the way, and there was enough suspense to keep me turning the pages to see what would happen next.

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