Anytime, Darlin'
By Kris Jones
Jun 7, 2009 - 10:40:05 PM

It seems to be just one more night on duty. Staff at a local K-Mart reports a teenaged girl who appears to be passed out, and Jake McKenna and his emergency medical technician team responds. He shakes his head at the thought of another young life probably lost to drugs. But what he finds is a girl horribly beaten, abused, starved and quite ill. He puts everything he has into bringing her around and is rewarded when she suddenly opens her eyes and meets his gaze. "What's your name?" he asks. "Devlin," she answers, and in that look and those few words, a bond is forged. Jake can't explain why, but he's drawn to Devlin. He barely leaves her side for hours and then days, much to the chagrin of Janice, a nurse who has her cap set for the handsome EMT.

When Jake tells Janice whatever they had is over and she sees his attraction for the runaway girl, she sets events in motion that echo throughout the book.


Devlin hasn't been able to trust anyone since the deaths of her family almost two years before. At that time, she moved in with her aunt and uncle in Denver. Her uncle abused her aunt, though Devlin tried all she could to stop it. Just as she was about to make a move to save her aunt, he catches on to her plan. He locks her in the basement, beats her to within an inch of her life and assaults her. She manages to escape and somehow crawl into the back room of a K-Mart to warm up. Instead she falls into a stupor.


When she wakes, it's to find warm brown eyes staring back at her. She learns the EMT's name is Jake and she knows right then and there that he's a man she can trust. Indeed, it isn't long before she knows he's the man she loves.


Before she leaves the hospital, Devlin also learns her uncle killed her aunt and then fled the country. Also, he might be responsible for the deaths of the rest of her family. The guilt of her aunt's murder drags on her. If only she'd been strong enough or fast enough or not waited so long to act, she thinks she could have saved them both.


Though a strong bond exists between them, Jake backs away from her. She knows why--she's seventeen and Jake's twenty-four. Plus, she realizes her own vulnerability and that neither is ready to settle down. Devlin seeks emancipation and leaves Denver to make a life beyond the tragedies of the last few years.


When Jake and Devlin meet four years later and they find neither has forgotten the other, nothing can keep them apart. Or is there someone who can? A sinister shadow lurks from Devlin's past, and he's not through with her quite yet.


ANYTIME, DARLIN' is enjoyable. Especially the second half when Devlin and Jake meet as equals and tear up the sheets with their lovemaking. Whoa, mama! Turn down the air conditioner! I admire her character's strength to move on with her life despite the horrific events of her teens. And I like that she gives herself to Jake without coyness or holding back.

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