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Blonde and beautiful, fledging attorney Stephanie Saunders vows to protect the innocent even though as indigent defense attorney her clients rarely are. Does that include Josh Durrant who seems to be following her? Stephanie is dismayed when her peers begin calling her “Prom Queen” as her boyfriend, Todd Saxton, often does. Desperately trying to prove her worth, she falls prey to those who steal her innocence. Although she plans to forgive Todd for his ultimate betrayal, she is never given the chance. Her boss, Attorney Charles Connelly, offers solace, but is Stephanie’s welfare, or his own, top priority? The only thing that keeps Stephanie sane in her insane world are the horses she loves but does not own, especially the abused mare, Riskie Business, whose example helps Stephanie make the most difficult decision of her life. Relying on wit and courage, Stephanie must save herself and another during the final showdown where she proves a loyalty of which she never knew herself capable.
2010 Winner of the Silver Quill for second place in the Fiction category for the League of Utah Writers Publication Awards.
I didn’t expect to enjoy this book.
I certainly didn’t expect to love it.
But I did. I couldn’t put it down.
Stephanie Saunders is tired of being given all the worst cases at her law firm, but as the lowest man on the totem pole she’s left with no options and is stuck trying to prove herself with repetitious indigent defense cases. When she’s assigned to defend the irritatingly good looking Josh Durrant she has trouble maintaining an impartial attitude. She’s sure he’s a bully, though her job is to defend him. She also keeps getting distracted by his polite manner and apparent genuine concern, which are in definite conflict with the fact that he seems to be stalking or her.
When things turn out badly with Stephanie’s boyfriend she falls apart and her kind boss, Charles, is there to pick up the pieces. In her vulnerable state she finds herself thrown into the position of looking after an abused expectant mare, Riskie Business. She identifies very strongly with Riskie as the two of them move through their difficult times together. All the while Josh hovers in the background, in one minute an empathetic friend and the next a creepy stalker—though he continually denies the allegation.
Just when Stephanie starts to find some backbone, things explode and she finds out that she’s been on the edge of disaster without even knowing it. There’s danger at every turn and she’s got to pull it together to survive.
I was irritated by Stephanie’s weakness on two counts. First, her boyfriend was a jerk. He never treated her well but she stayed with him anyway. He seemed to be all about her appearance rather than who she was. I would have liked her to send him packing. Second, she relied too heavily on her boss to help her through her tough times. It didn’t work for me that a smart, driven, young women, who has pulled herself through law school under difficult circumstances would fall apart so completely that she couldn’t even live on her own for several months. However, those two irritating character defects didn’t keep me from devouring the book. Inconsistencies in character are all too real.
My favorite part of the story was the confusing relationship she had with Josh Durrant. Evil stalker or empathetic friend? Well done.
Depth of Deceit keeps you hooked until the end, wondering which players are the good guys and which ones are the bad guys. The characters are well developed and enjoyable. I’m so glad I was introduced to this book, and I look forward to more from Betty Briggs in the future.