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Like A Knife    by Annie Solomon order for
Like A Knife
by Annie Solomon
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2003 (2003)

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* * *   Reviewed by Rashmi Srinivas

Witnessing her mother's violent murder as a child, has left Rachel Goodman deeply emotionally scarred. Now an adult, she's trying her level best to help other such children through her charity preschool. But since donations are few and expenses many, the school is barely struggling along. Juggling her praiseworthy goal against her dwindling finances, Rachel worries about its future, which is why she's grateful to the new, silent but hardworking handyman, Nick Raine. Still struggling to come to terms with her past, Rachel is intrigued by and attracted to this intensely handsome but enigmatic stranger. Her interest is also piqued by his penchant for spending all his time in the dark and dingy basement.

Nick is no ordinary person. He's a man trying to hide from and forget his own ugly, violent past. In that small school filled with damaged children, Nick is trying to make atonement for the unspeakable things he did in the past, which he now deeply regrets. His bitter past prevents him from acting on his growing attraction to Rachel. But even as he dreams of putting it all behind him and one day achieving a semblance of normalcy, his past comes back to haunt him with a vengeance. Things abruptly begin to fall apart after a woman he once knew named Shelley is killed in a supposed hit-and-run. This unleashes a dangerous chain reaction and when Rachel's life is also threatened, Nick is left with no other option than to go back into that violent world of which he was once the Prince.

In this debut offering, Annie Solomon combines breathtaking action, chilling suspense and heartrending romance into an intricately plotted, intelligent and provocative novel. It raises an interesting question which is pivotal to the whole story - can a person ever atone for sins of the past? The author attempts to provide an answer through the sensitively depicted characters of Nick and Rachel. Through Rachel, readers are shown how violence affects its victim and what struggles they have to go through to rise above it, if they ever do. And in Nick we see a former victimizer, who now repents bitterly. He wants to turn over a new leaf, but this isn't easy since neither society nor his former companions are willing to forgive or forget.

What happens when these two people - poles apart in nature but still oddly attuned to each other - fall in love under such bleak circumstances? The result is a magnificent and captivating tale of love and redemption, which establishes Annie Solomon a writer of high standards, one to watch out for. It can also be noted that the entire book reads like a fast-paced action movie plot. Simply exquisite and thrilling!

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