Motivated by a traumatic past, Candice Stevens has survived to become a respected Medical Examiner in St. Louis. Though successful in her career, she is much less so in her social life. Candice likes to keep to herself. She is also consistent in rejecting the advances of FBI agent Dorian “Sal” Salivas. But when Candice finds a rare piece of evidence which might provide a clue in the long term hunt for a serial killer, she is forced to turn to the man she just can’t take seriously.
Sal has been injured in the line of duty and sidelined by his boss at the FBI. Though unfit for active duty, he is given an undercover assignment to determine if there is a mole in the department who might be in league with the serial killer known as Vivaldi. He of course is thrilled that he must work closely with Candice, a woman Sal has been fascinated with since their first meeting. It will give Sal the time to prove that he is serious in his pursuit of her while also proving that they just may have more in common than they think. But hunting down a serial killer is dangerous work and not exactly the environment for a romance. When Candice is threatened, Sal realizes he could lose her before he has even won her.
If Spring Comes is the third book in Amy Leigh Simpson’s romantic suspense series The Girl Next Door. And as they say the third time is certainly the charm. From the very first book, I’ve been hooked on Simpson’s intense, fast-paced, nail-biting mysteries and her passionate, equally intense romances. I don’t know how she manages to combine such chilling criminal mysteries with sizzling hot romances, but Simpson is definitely an expert at it.
Sal and Candice were first introduced in When Fall Fades, and I followed their relationship with interest through the second novel From Winter’s Ashes. Sal has had the hots for the reclusive Candice from day one, but she will never give him the time of day. Finally in If Spring Comes we get to learn more about these two fascinating characters and their interactions with each other.
Both Sal (or Dorian as Candice calls him) and Candice have a mountain of emotional baggage. But Sal hides the wounds and guilt of his past behind a mask of humor and razor sharp people skills. Candice prefers to cope by withdrawing from life outside of work and avoiding personal relationships. Her first impressions of Sal are extremely wrong and guide her treatment of him. She is prickly and condescending. But Sal will not be dissuaded. His patience, persistence, compassion and understanding make him a worthy hero for Candice.
Simpson has also created her most frightening villain yet. A murderer who slices and dices young women to a soundtrack of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, he is meticulous enough to leave no trace of evidence and has eluded the FBI for years. In all three of Simpson’s stories, I have yet to guess the villain, no matter how hard I try. The clues are misleading and there are enough suspects as to make it hard to pin down the culprit. I confess that normally I like to read the end of a book first. But I never do so with this series, because I so enjoy the challenge of trying to guess who is guilty. In If Spring Comes, the author also alludes to Candice’ past link to music. I like how this all ties in together at the end.
After a long wait, I devoured If Spring Comes the day of its’ release. I would say it was worth the wait (because it was), but boy do I hate waiting, especially for a book of this calibre. And what a roller coaster of a read it was, full of twists and turns to make your heart soar and stomach drop. If you have never read any of Simpson’s books, what are you waiting for?!?! Although, I warn you, you won’t be able to put it down, so clear your schedule before you start. You won’t be sorry!