Mariah Sayers grew up in the small town of Plains Point, MO. Her father was a preacher with very strict ideas of right and wrong and most of what Mariah did was wrong. Her mother backed her father and agreed with his rigid, uncaring parenting. At 17, Mariah use to climb out her bedroom window so she could meet with her boyfriend. One night coming back, virginal Mariah is attacked and raped. When she discovers that she is pregnant, she runs away from home knowing her parents would only blame and punish her. Now, 16 years later, Mariah returns with her daughter to ready her family home to sell.
Mariah plans to only be in town for a couple of weeks. She has no good memories of growing up in this house but when she sees how much work needs to be done to it, she realizes that it’s going to take more time than she thought. She does bump into her best friend as a child as well as her old boyfriend and a guy how had a crush on her during high school. Could one of these guys be the one who raped her?
Finn had been Mariah best friend. He grew up on the property next to Mariah’s family. His mother died when he was young and his father was a drunk. Finn was left to bring up his younger two sisters. Finn and Mariah could talk about anything and everything including their horrible home lives.
Clay was Mariah’s boyfriend. He was the high school football quarterback and had a football scholarship with a promising future playing football. In his senior year though he blew out his knee and ended those dreams. Now, he’s the local sheriff. He’s married and has 4 children.
Jack sat behind Mariah in English class. He was skinny and shy. No one really noticed him. Now, he’s good looking and the local vet. He found cats and dogs are much easier to get along with than people but he finds he’d still like to get to know the adult Mariah better.
When Mariah’s best friend comes to visit and is attacked by the same man that attacked Mariah all those years ago, she knows that it’s time to help find this psychopath. Not knowing if it’s Clay or not, she has no choice but to tell him her story from 16 years ago. If it’s not Clay, can he find this man before he strikes again and if it is Clay, what’s Mariah going to do?
This story kept me wanting to know what next. Jack and Mariah seem to be starting a relationship that they know can’t go anywhere with Mariah living in Chicago and Jack in MO. Still, the attraction is there and do they dare follow up on it? Clay is in trouble with his wife. Mariah has called to the sheriff’s department reporting seeing someone in the trees near her house. Clay had to check it out as that’s his job but his wife worries that his feelings towards Mariah are still there. How can Clay convince her that he loves her, not Mariah and yet give Mariah the protection that she deserves? Finn seems to be the perfect family man, loving his wife and children. He loves to give parties and have people over. Is this the real Finn or is he just trying to cover up a darker side of himself?
All of the characters are real. They are so well developed that they feel like old friends from high school! As the old friends meet, they have to share what have you been doing since high school just as if you bumped into a friend that you haven’t seen since school. As some of them have changed a lot since school like Jack, references from that time are given so the characters can place each other. With this kind of depth, the characters become real people with real problems and personalities. Even watching as the perceptions that were held as kids become changed as adults was realistic.
Who is the rapist? Several girls have come up missing over the past 16 years. Can these be tied to Mariah’s attack? And where are these girls? Could the rapist become a murder? This mystery was very well done. Almost every male was a suspect and the town’s reaction as the scope of these crimes became known was typical small town. As the suspects are slowly narrowed down, Mariah realizes that she is once again a target. Can she overcome her fear to protect herself and her daughter?
The ending is a surprise and the suspect not one I would have guessed. This book was well done from its characters to its storyline to its suspense. If you enjoy a good mystery with some romance overtones, this may be a book for you.