Ever since I read the last page of The Blue Coyote Motel, I've wondered what happened to Maria after she left for France.
I'm proud to say I've been able to catch up with her in Coyote in Provence, the second title of Dianne Harman's Coyote Series.
As we might imagine if we discovered ourselves to be on the run from the authorities - fearing we might be charged, and sentenced for, a crime we didn't commit - Maria changed her name.
It wouldn't be long before we met the beautiful Elena Johnson who lived in a cottage. Deciding to do something more to occupy her time, she approached the owner of a bakery, asking if she might prepare lunch a few days a week. Long story short, she got the job and began working at Henri's Bakery.
On one particular day, a man - Jordan Kramer - came into the bakery and decided to have lunch. He could not help but ask to meet the chef who had prepared his meal. Lo, and behold, he comes face-to-face with Elena Johnson, whom I know as Maria.
It isn't long before they are spending every spare moment together, day and night. There is a catch, however: Jordan is a detective with an Art Theft Division back in California and has come to Provence, France, to investigate whether seven stolen paintings ended up in France.
Elena accompanies him as she can during his investigation and, as time passes, she wants to confess the truth about why she left the United States but cannot bring herself to do so.
The investigation leads them to the door of an elderly ailing couple, parents of a famous chef who visits as often as he can. While there, Elena stumbles upon more than a dozen Afghan girls who have been smuggled into France, seeking refuge in the barn while waiting to enter the United States - little girls as young as one and two-years-old who have been cast onto the streets by their parents because of their gender.
By the time Jordan and Elena leave the run-down house, Jordan is torn and faced with a critical decision: does he turn a blind eye to the theft of the paintings, knowing the proceeds went to save the girls' lives or does he uphold the law as he had been trained to do throughout his life?
What about Elena? When Jordan goes back to California, will she be happy staying in France without him or will she follow him, resuming her life as Maria and take her chances with the legal system?
To learn more about the book, you can visit its page on Amazon.
I admit to being in a state of fear when Elena decided to head back to the United States, using her real name (Maria Brooks), though I understood her reasons for doing so. I can only imagine
that being on the run from the authorities would diminish the light in anyone's eyes after a while. Also, since there is no statue of limitations on murder, she could be arrested no matter what
her age if the authorities were to find her. Yes, clearing her name was important, but proving she murdered her husband in self defense was another matter altogether - one she had to face head on
the moment she landed in California and was arrested, after already enduring the long flight from France.
The story picks up pace from there as her boyfriend, Detective Jordan Kramer, realizes that he can't do anything about the promise he had made to Maria. In fact, it is Darya who comes to her rescue - a Muslim woman we were introduced to in Coyote in Provence.
On the sidelines, there is a romance building between Private Investigator Slade Kelly and Darya, as well as a host of other things taking place while Maria fights to clear her name, allowing us the opportunity to be reunited with characters from the Blue Coyote Motel.
Overall, Cornered Coyote, the third title of Dianne Harman's Coyote series, is a gripping read filled with drama, romance and suspense in the courtroom.
If you would like to learn more about the book, please visit its page on Amazon.