Okay. I highly recommend _not_ reading this as a standalone. It does not stand alone. There are a dozen or more characters from previous novels, and with that many people running around, it's hard to keep them straight if you have been reading; good luck figuring anything out if you haven't been reading all along. The main romance in the story violates several romance genre conventions, including the mandatory HEA (happily ever after), altho perhaps not the trade associations requirement which is an emotionally satisfying ending.
Having picked on the cover/marketing and the (related) impossibility of reading this as a standalone novel, on to reviewing the actual story. Well, in a minute. Several years and even more entries in the series ago, a short story depicting Alyssa and Sam shortly after their marriage, but before their son Ashton is born, introduces the character of The Dentist, who apparently fascinated Brockmann's readers who inundated her with requests for the book that "excerpt" was from. Which it was not. She finally wrote the book. The Dentist was just as obsessed with Alyssa after the events of that short story as Brockmann's fans (apparently) were with The Dentist. And Brockmann decided to have some fun with her readers.
Savannah's husband Ken is shot and Van goes out to be with him, running her friend Maria's campaign long-distance with the assistance of Jennilyn (new character) who is a size 14/16 and fairly tall and whose romantic life is deeply distorted by hanging out with uber-gorgeous Van and Maria. This random event thwarts The Dentist's plans to kill Van to get Alyssa to come out in search of him. Instead, The Dentist starts leaving nasty grams and other things and plants a suggestion to bring in the Troubleshooters to up Maria's security (who is now a NY assemblywoman). The fun begin as Brockmann litters the novel and plot with red herring after red herring. Each little factoid we pick up about The Dentist matches one or more of several possibilities for the serial killer. One of the romance novel violations is that Jennilyn (the one who gets laid in detail in the course of the novel) meets Mick Callahan and has a detailed and possibly romantic partner-worthy interaction with him long before she meets Dan Gillman (who actually gets it on with her). Another of the violations, of course, is that after setting up a 2-week deadline on the relationship (not a violation), Jennilyn turfs Dan out early and says no more of the oh yeah baby until after he returns from his next visit to A-stan.
Brockmann has a great sense of humor and, drastically unlike many other romantic suspense authors (like, say, Catherine Coulter), a centrist to left-of-center political perspective. Most notably, this shows up in the presence of gay couples (one of the novels in the series was a man-man romance, and that relationship was developed over the course of the arc and is ongoing) portrayed very positively, and various characters making really pointed remarks on therapists who claim to help get over gayness (bad, duh), don't-ask-don't-tell (pointless, duh), etc.
Brockmann periodically includes a real clunker (uh, don't think you'd get a bladder infection right away from a lot of sex, but you might get a UTI, which I think is what she meant; I'm _fairly_ certain that the VA doesn't deny treatment of PTSD based on a "pre-existing condition", but hey, I could be wrong. I think the VA denies treatment because of resource problems and the primary manifestation is in the form of crazy-long wait times -- which she accurately indicates elsewhere), but not so often as to render her novels unreadable (for me, anyway). The hot-potato baby (Ashton) is fairly entertainingly depicted, particularly having Robin (the movie star) change a bunch of diapers. Breastfeeding is depicted somewhat positively and extremely realistically. I particularly liked that Alyssa had letdown woes when doing the rocking chair/calm thing, but had catastrophic letdown after taking down a whackjob on bodyguard duty for Tobin. *snicker*
I'll keep reading.