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Forbidden (Southern Comfort Book 2) - Lisa Clark O'Neill

Quick summary
FBI profiler Clay Copeland was ordered to take a week of vacation following the tragic ending to his last case. The serial dater decides to spend the time outside of Charleston at his best friend's beachfront home. When he spots Tate Hennessy sunning on the beach, he makes the move of a lifetime.


The romance
Clay is one of the most appealing fictional characters I've read. He's bright, handsome, good at what he does and has a wicked wit and sense of humor. He isn't perfect but his honesty and directness more than over compensated for his flaws. Tate was a perfect match as she "got" this man and had a strong sense of self. She's a single mother raising a 5-year old son and is cautious without being overly so. There was a perfect balance in this relationship with him being commitment shy and she being burned in the past but neither too damaged by their pasts. I liked both of them individually and loved them as a couple. It's a really well-designed romance.


The mystery and suspense
It was inevitable that Clay would be drawn into some work-related issue while on vacation but what was unpredictable was Tate being a part of the situations. While they were out on a date, they inadvertently witnessed the man who was suspected of abducting a 14-year old girl at the base of a Ferris wheel. Things take a dramatic turn when it appears they've stumbled upon a much larger set of circumstances. The points of view of the victims and villains, along with that of law enforcement, helped create a web of intrigue, tension and suspense as all eventually converge to a chilling climax. It was expertly conceived and executed.


One more thing...
Tate's son Max was one of the many highlights of the story, creating opportunities for comic relief and sweet, tender moments. And, Tate comes from a big Irish extended family who were important here and hopefully in books to come. They enriched the story in substantive ways. Bring on the Murphys!


The bottom line
I LOVED this book. Period. Finished it in one day. Everything worked...the romance, character development, mystery, suspense, emotional connection. The villains were frightening and cold blooded, creating excitement and wrecking my nerves.

The Murphys provide a fertile foundation for some very interesting stories to come. I was already happy with the Wellington brothers from the first book and am now thrilled at the prospect of future stories about Rogan, Declan and Kathleen. This series is now on my top ten list to finish or get up to date.