To date, this the only book by Sandra Brown I've read. I usually stick to particular writers: Danielle Steel, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Dan Brown, Stephen King and some other selected writers but when I found this book in the school library years ago (where I worked as a teacher), I just had to read it after viewing the summary at the back.
THE CRUSH is what I would call a thriller and I really think this book should be adapted into a movie. The story is about a beautiful doctor who finds herself stalked by a professional killer who first encountered her in his own trial as she was the forewoman of the jury who acquitted him. To impress her and show his 'devotion', he commits a terrible act on her behalf and the police's fingers all point to her as the victim was a colleague/rival. Enter a disgraced police officer to help solve the case i.e investigate whether or not the doctor is guilty of complicity, which is rather hard on this chap as the assassin was his nemesis and he found himself genuinely attracted to the doctor, who is not pleased when she finds out the handsome stranger she was reluctantly liking was sent to spy on her; as if getting unwanted flowers and cards from her so called admirer wasn't bad enough.
There are two main characters here; Dr. Rennie Newton and Detective Wick Threadgill. An unlikely pair. Yet they are rather alike; they are both dedicated to their line of work, both very stubborn, both cynical and jaded, both carrying the heavy load of pain and penance on their shoulders and the assassin, Ricky Roy Lozada- their enemy. In the first half of the book, they don't trust each other despite the growing emotional and sexual attraction for each other. Rennie we find is calm and collected and a fine surgeon but the reader immediately senses she's hiding something. Detective Wick is an angry, bitter man and we wonder what caused him to take a long leave of absence and the reason behind his panic attacks. He is told about Rennie's past by his partner and two people who knew Rennie as a child but- and this I like about him- was more interested in hearing Rennie's side of the story. Some malicious readers would say he was letting his sexual desire for the beautiful doctor cloud his judgement but Wick simply followed his intuition; refusing to completely judge her and very insistent she told him the real story. As they get to know each other properly, with the dark cloud of Lozada looming over them, they heal each other emotionally. Wick opens up to her about his sad past and she does the same- for the first time in years letting a man steal her heart. It's true what they say about finding love in unexpected places and situations and this was a classic example; the moment when Rennie and Wick finally made love is one of the most memorable and erotic scenes in fiction.
Lozada is a pure sociopath, it's shown that even as a child, he was incapable of love, compassion and remorse; he fears nothing and nobody. He's also super confident and narcissistic- actually believing Rennie's decision to acquit him during her jury duty was out of personal interest of him and got very angry when he saw Rennie with his enemy; regarding it as a huge betrayal. A man like that is terrifying and evil and all through the book, I was hoping he wouldn't get the chance to harm Rennie. I wouldn't say he's sick, he's just plain evil.
Wick's partner, Oren Wesley... he's an ASS; I really detested him. He was so certain Rennie was guilty of complicity and constantly used her past against her, actually calling her 'a whore in a white coat' to Wick's face and I was glad to see Wick immediately defending her. I would have thought someone who was less impulsive than Wick would know better; but no- Oren was horrible towards Rennie, biased and really judgmental- as a police officer he didn't seem to want to assume the 'Innocent Until Proven Guilty' stance with Rennie, her past his main reason for his attitude and it was only after she suffers a tragedy that he relents and realized he was wrong.
The story is excellent; it's mostly about obsession and finding healing after a lot of pain- so it's not just your average detective story. It's a page turner with a good amount of suspense and the earlier mentioned VERY HOT love scene and afterwards the reader will impatiently turn the pages to see how it will all end with Rennie and Wick.
Quote from book:
"I'll be your best friend for the rest of your life. I'll try my damnedest to heal the parts of you that still hurts. I'll be an ardent and faithful lover. I'd father your children, gladly. And I would protect you with my life."