Presumed Guilty - Dana R. Lynn

"I'M INNOCENT!"

 

After four years in prison for a crime she didn't commit, Melanie Swanson's finally free. Yet starting over brings a heavy load of challenges. Nearly everyone believes she's guilty -- including police lieutenant Jace Tucker. Jace's certainty cracks only when Melanie is repeatedly attacked, and when the people around her are picked off one by one. Melanie's clearly innocent -- and terrified. Someone wants her dead to keep her shattered memories from recalling the crime she witnessed rather than caused. She lost her friends, her fiancé and her freedom when she was found guilty -- but proving her innocence could cost Melanie her life.

 

Good book. It started with a great deal of tension as Melanie is mobbed the day she was released from prison. There are reporters in her face and protesters who feel she should still be in prison. Sent to escort her home is police lieutenant Jace Tucker, the same officer who was in charge of the investigation against her and who is still convinced that she was guilty. Neither one is happy with the situation, but Mel will accept the protection. She's glad of it when they reach her aunt's home, where they find her aunt unconscious. While caring for her a brick is thrown through the window, with a threatening note attached.

 

Jace remembers the case very well. He was the one in charge of collecting the evidence. Even though much of it was circumstantial it was convincing enough for the jury to convict her. But seeing Mel now, with the fear in her eyes, he begins to wonder if he had been too hasty. As the attacks increase in number and deadliness, Jace is determined to keep her safe and get to the truth.

 

The mystery of who is behind the attacks on Mel was really good. As Jace becomes more and more convinced of her innocence, the questions and their answers get more confusing. Some of the attacks seem to only want to frighten her away, while others seem intent on killing her. I loved watching them work through all the possibilities. There were times when I thought Mel was behaving recklessly, especially that last time after her aunt's funeral. There were definitely some interesting twists and turns on the way to discovering who was behind the attacks. I can safely say that one part I suspected, but the other was a total surprise.

 

I enjoyed the romance that developed between Jace and Mel. The first thing each noticed was the attraction, and neither was happy about it. Jace couldn't believe he was attracted to a drug dealing murderer, and Mel thought Jace was blindly judgmental. But Jace began to see past the criminal that he thought she was and saw the inconsistencies in his previous beliefs. I liked the way that he was able to admit that maybe he had been wrong. He was able to see that his feelings about his youngest sister's death had blinded him to things he should have seen. Once he started to let go of that guilt, he was able to open his heart. I liked seeing Mel slowly begin to trust Jace. Even at the beginning, when he didn't believe her innocence, she still trusted that he would protect her. I liked seeing that trust turn to love. I thought the ending was really sweet and loved the surprise they pulled on their friends and family.

 

I also really liked the secondary characters. They all felt very real with believable actions and emotions. I liked Jace's fellow cops, including the young and intense Miles. Dan rubbed me wrong early on, but redeemed himself at the end. I really liked Jace's sister Irene and her acceptance of Mel. I loved their girl times together and how good it was for Mel. Even Jace's mom had perfectly understandable reactions, but was also able to see the truth when it was presented. 

 

I'm really looking forward to seeing what comes next.