Published by Putnam on Jan. 7, 2014
Genres: Romantic suspense
Source: the library
Also by this author: Copper Beach, Dream Eyes, Secret Sisters, Eye of the Beholder, Lost and Found, Sharp Edges, When All the Girls Have Gone, Smoke in Mirrors
It’s been thirteen years since Lucy Sheridan was in Summer River. The last time she visited her aunt Sara there, as a teenager, she’d been sent home suddenly after being dragged out of a wild party—by the guy she had a crush on, just to make it more embarrassing. Obviously Mason Fletcher—only a few years older but somehow a lot more of a grown-up—was the overprotective type who thought he had to come to her rescue.
Now, returning after her aunt’s fatal car accident, Lucy is learning there was more to the story than she realized at the time. Mason had saved her from a very nasty crime that night—and soon afterward, Tristan, the cold-blooded rich kid who’d targeted her, disappeared mysteriously, his body never found.
A lot has changed in thirteen years. Lucy now works for a private investigation firm as a forensic genealogist, while Mason has quit the police force to run a successful security firm with his brother—though he still knows his way around a wrench when he fills in at his uncle’s local hardware store. Even Summer River has changed, from a sleepy farm town into a trendy upscale spot in California’s wine country. But Mason is still a protector at heart, a serious (and seriously attractive) man. And when he and Lucy make a shocking discovery inside Sara’s house, and some of Tristan’s old friends start acting suspicious, Mason’s quietly fierce instincts kick into gear. He saved Lucy once, and he’ll save her again. But this time, she insists on playing a role in her own rescue . .
River Road is classic Krentz: a straightforward, keeps-you-turning-the-pages romantic suspense novel with the accent on suspense. Or perhaps I should call it a romantic mystery, since I didn’t feel the heroine was in all that much danger through most of the book. That’s mostly due to the competence and determination of Mason, the hero, who is a born protector; I was sure he wouldn’t let anything happen to her. In fact, at one point I was far more worried about Mason’s survival than Lucy’s!
The two main characters have a nice dynamic. Thirteen years ago, Mason rescued Lucy from a teen drinking-and-drugs party (and also, one immediately suspects, from something much worse, though Lucy herself seems oblivious to the latter.) In the here-and-now, Lucy is much more confident and competent, and she bristles when Mason proves just as protective and dictatorial as he was on that long-ago night. I loved both characters, and the fact that the characteristics they share — determination, an investigative mind, and a strong sense of justice — both bring them together and set them in conflict with each other. The undeniable chemistry between them heightens the tension. Despite their occasional clashes, they make a good team.
The plot weaves several mysteries, which may or may not be related: What happened to Tristan Brinker, the charismatic young sociopath who disappeared (or died) a few days after that party thirteen years ago? Was the recent death of Lucy’s aunt Sara and her partner Mary an accident, or murder? And what do any those deaths have to do with familial infighting at investment firm Colfax Inc., and the shares Lucy inherited from Mary? Krentz expertly creates a perplexing, even baffling, mystery, with a plethora of suspects and red herrings, and more twists and turns than a mountain road. I couldn’t put it down!
Recommended for: fans of Jayne Ann Krentz and contemporary romantic suspense in general. This book has none of the paranormal elements of Krentz’s recent work; it’s more like her earlier books in that respect, but clearly set in the here-and-now.