Exposure was the story about a woman who is running with her daughter. She is trying to start her life over in a small town on an island. Of course, things did not go smoothly for her. I'll get into the plot in just a minute. This is a romantic suspense book written by Susan Anderson. She has a unique, entertaining style. The book was published in 1996. The book has 319 pages, so it isn't too long or short, but it was still a fast read for me.
PLOT The book began with a prologue. Marge Muldoon arrived to tell Grant Woodard that Emma Sands is gone. Marge had been working as Emma's housekeeper, hired by Grant. Emma left a note saying she and her daughter, Gracie, were spending the weekend in the country with Grant. Grant was not happy to learn that Emma was gone. He had video cameras hidden in Emma's house. He'd been secretly taping her, and others, for years. He discovered that Emma found his secret stash of video tapes and she took some of the with her. Grant was furious and sent a man named Heckett after Emma.
Emma ended up on a small island in Washington that has a small town named Port Flannery by accident. She got off the ferry at the wrong stop. There her car started acting up. She found a garage in town, where the mechanic talked down to her, telling her not to worry her pretty little head about what was wrong with her car. Emma took her daughter to eat at the cafe across the street and ended up making arrangements to stay in town for a week.
When she went back to the garage, she found that Bill, the mechanic, was trying to charge for something that wasn't wrong with her car. She knew what was wrong, but he was saying it was something else, that was much more expensive to fix of course. Elvis Donnelly, the town sheriff arrived to straighten out the mess. After getting her car back, Emma really wanted to leave Port Flannery, but she paid for the room at the boarding house in advance, and she can't afford to let the money go to waste.
Emma soon found out that not everyone in town was as horrible as Bill. She quickly made friends with Ruby, the owner of the cafe and boarding house where Emma was renting a room. Word spread around town that Emma stood up to Bill. Ruby got Emma to do a tune up on her car. Emma made more friends, like Clare Mackey, the wife of Elvis' best friend Sam. Emma originally only planed to stay in town for a week, but she ended up staying longer because someone else wanted her to fix their car. Clare helped sit that up, and was getting other people to go to Emma for tune ups to keep Emma in town longer. Clare really liked Emma and Gracie.
Emma was attracted to Elvis despite the fact that he had a horrible scar from a bomb blast - he was a cop in a bigger city when that happened. Emma found out that even though he was sheriff, most people in town won't have anything to do with him. He was considered an outsider even though he grew up on the island. His past (he was a bit wild as a teenager) and his mother's former occupation (the town's only lady of the night) was held against him. Emma was disgusted by how the town treated Elvis. He lived in the same boarding house, a few rooms down. They got to know each other. They do have a misunderstanding or two, but they straighten things out eventually. Gracie liked Elvis right from the start, and he is wrapped around her little fingers.
Heckett was tracking Emma, trying to find her for Grant. He did track her to Port Flannery. When he heard that Emma had been found, Grant didn't want Heckett to bring Emma back right away. He had something else in mind. Grants plans were revealed a bit later in the book.
One day, Gracie turned up missing. Emma had a fit and was scared to death. Gracie was found after a little while, and she was perfectly fine. There was some confusion surrounding exactly how Gracie came to be where she was found. Some of it was cleared up quickly, but a few other things remain unanswered for a while because someone involved in what happened was out of town. Emma was convinced Grant was the mastermind behind Gracie's disappearance. She won't tell Elvis her suspicions, and planed to leave town that night. Elvis stopped her, which upset Emma. She was scared that Grant has found them. She eventually agreed to tell Elvis what was going on, why Grant was after her. You have to read the book to find out everything she told him.
During the rest of the book, some other things happen and Emma thinks Grant was behind them. Her first instinct was to run, but she trusted Elvis to keep her and Gracie safe. Emma and Elvis grew even closer, eventually becoming engaged. They started to plan their wedding. Emma was still worrying that Grant or his goons would show up and cause trouble. She was afraid Elvis would be hurt because he was involved with her. To find out how everything turns out, read the book. Many more things happened that I didnt mention here.
Exposure was a well written, descriptive book. The story kept my interest throughout the book. It was predictable at times, it was a romance after all, but not everything was predictable. I had no idea how everything with Grant would turn out. There was some colorful language used in the book at times, and several appearances of the word that rhymes with luck. Some of these appearances were when Elvis was ticked off about something. He wasnt a violent man, but he would curse a lot when he was upset or ticked off. I didnt think the use of that particular word was excessive, but some people may thing otherwise and be offended by it.
There was suspense and romance in Exposure. What Grant was going to do about Emma disappearing was the mystery and the suspenseful moments in the book are related to that. Several things happened to Emma and Gracie that may be the work of Grant. A few times, the reader will know more about what was going on than the characters, and other times, the reader was in the dark as much as the characters. The mystery part of the book wasnt as complicated or strong as the mysteries in some other books, but it was interesting enough to keep my attention.
There was a subplot involving Sam and Clare Mackey in Exposure, but it didn't take away from the rest of the story. Something horrible happened the year before that caused Clare to pull away from Sam. Now she was finally getting over what happened, but she was afraid she lost Sam. They were working to get their marriage back on track. Sam had been concerned and worried about Clare during the last year. He seemed to get a bit annoyed with her at times because of how she kept pulling away from him.
The relationship between Emma and Elvis provided the romance for Exposure. Emma didnt want to get involved, but she changed her mind after getting to know Elvis more. Elvis was a bit hesitant too. His past in the town and his injuries from the accident he was in added to why he wasnt rushing into any relationship. He had some bad experiences with women who had been attracted to him just because of his injuries and didnt care about him at all. After his accident, those were the only women who had shown any interest in him. When Emma was attracted to him, he thought she was like that at first too. He and Emma had a lot to work through, and once they did, they became intimate. There were some sexual situations and acts described in the book. The descriptions were explicit and detailed, so they could offend some readers. There werent that many of those scenes in the book, but there could be too many of those scenes for some readers. Anyone who doesnt like romance books or is offended by descriptions of those types of scenes should avoid this book.
The town of Port Flannery, where most of Exposure was set, was well described so it was easy for me to picture it while I read. The characters were well described also. Emma and Elvis were the most developed characters in the book. Things about their pasts were told at different times in the book. Those things really helped to explain why they were the way they were and why they did some things. The other characters weren't as well developed, but they weren't in as much of the book. They showed up in a scene here and there, so enough was known about them.
Emma Sands - She was running with her daughter from Grant. She had been married, but her husband died before Gracie was born. Emma was originally from New Orleans. She spoke in French at times, sometimes just a word here and there, other times whole sentences. She was more prone to ranting in French if she was annoyed. She knew a lot about cars, and ended up working on the cars of several women in town. She was independent and had gotten use to taking care of herself and her daughter. She was fiercely protective of her daughter.
Elvis Donnelly - Sheriff of Port Flannery. He grew up in town, but was considered an outsider because of his past. He had a hard childhood because of his mother's profession - everyone in town knew what she did and gave him a hard time about it. Being named Elvis Aaron didn't help matters for him either. He was running a bit wild when he was a teenager, and the sheriff helped him turn his life around. He left town and became a cop in another city. He was badly injured in a bomb blast, and he returned home after he recovered and became sheriff. He was attracted to Emma from the start. He would do anything for Gracie - she had him wrapped around her fingers. He was furious that someone was after Emma and Gracie. He vowed to protect them. He could be stubborn at times. He was good at his job and determined to keep Emma and Grace safe.
Gracie - Emma's daughter. She was three years old. Everyone in town was charmed by her. She was drawn to Elvis early on, and always comfortable with him. She called him her Elbis - that was how his name came out when she said it. She had him wrapped around her fingers.
Ruby Kelly - Owner of the cafe and boarding house. She was the first person in town to make friends with Emma. She was also the first to have Emma work on her car. She and Emma became very good friends.
Sam Mackey - Owner of the general store. He was married to Clare. He has been friends with Elvis since they were in kindergarten. He and Clare were having some problems.
Clare Mackey - Wife of Sam. She worked in the general store with Sam. She watched Gracie a few times while Emma worked on cars. She got Emma more customers so she will stay in town. Clare was drawn to Gracie. She and Emma became friends.
Nadine - Elvis' mother. She loved Elvis Presley. There was Elvis stuff everywhere in her house. She went to Graceland every year. She named her son Elvis Aaron. She and Elvis had a strained relationship because she use to be a hooker. When he was growing up, she would lock him out of the house when she was entertaining her clients.
Grant Woodard - Very wealthy man. He was like a father to Emma for several years. Now he was after Emma because she had something of his.
Heckett - Man hired by Grant to find Emma.
Exposure was a very good, interesting book. I really enjoyed it and thought it was entertaining. Anyone that likes romantic suspense books should enjoy this book. Anyone that is offended by foul language may not want to read this book. The language wasn't the worst I have ever seen in a book. Overall, it was a very good, interesting, engrossing book.
ISBN # - 0-8217-6403-9