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Jayne Ann Krentz borrows from the legend of the Hatfields and McCoys and throws in a few echoes of Romeo and Juliet in her latest saga of romance and intrigue. Eclipse Bay is the first in what promises to be an exciting new trilogy. Death and desire walk hand in hand in the tiny town of Eclipse Bay, located along the rocky coast of Oregon. The steep cliffs and crashing waves are no less hazardous than the nasty secrets that many in town keep. And at the heart of it all is the generations-long rivalry and hostilities between two families: the Hartes and the Madisons.
The two families have waged a bitter battle ever since the elder men in the family became business partners years ago and were then torn apart over a beautiful but unscrupulous woman. Now, the Hartes are part of the upper crust in Eclipse Bay whereas the Madisons are known for being womanizing scallywags who are in trouble more than they are out. Everyone assumes Hannah Harte will go on to great personal success and a solid, well-positioned marriage. But the expectations for Rafe Madison include a life of trouble and the likelihood of jail time.
But fate, and a chance encounter on a deserted beach late one night, changes everything. Rafe Madison is accused of murdering the young girl he was dating, who abandoned him out on the beach. Hannah, also abandoned by her date after she fought off his amorous advances, finds herself in the position of being Rafe Madison's alibi. Though Hannah does the right thing by telling the truth about Rafe, she pays for it when rumors about the true nature of their chance encounter start to circulate.
Eight years later, Hannah and Rafe have both made their way in the world. Hannah has met her goal of building a successful business, and Rafe has met his goal too: staying out of jail. They are drawn back to Eclipse Bay when Hannah's aunt dies and leaves them each an equal interest in her large seaside house. Rafe and Hannah both have plans for the place and each hopes to convince the other to sell their half interest. It doesn't take long before their plans verge more toward a partnership -- both in a personal and a business sense. Yet they may not get the chance to realize their plans, for the killer from eight years ago is apparently still at large. And he's none too happy when Rafe and Hannah's return to Eclipse Bay triggers memories and talk among the townsfolk that might point a finger his way.
Krentz aptly plumbs the depths of family connections, exploring those that tie and those that bind. Petty conflicts provide an entertaining foil to one very deadly one, and although the crime may be serious, Krentz's depiction of small-town life provides some comic relief. There's passion aplenty and some scintillating sex, plus an intriguing cast of eccentric characters that makes for a highly entertaining read. As the kickoff to a trilogy, Eclipse Bay promises a high-scoring game.