Fresh Meat: River Road by Jayne Ann Krentz

River Road by Jayne Ann Krentz is a novel of romantic suspense about a forensic genealogist and investigator who teams up with a security expert, also her childhood crush, to uncover the secrets of their shared hometown (available January 7, 2014).

In River Road, Jayne Ann Krentz returns to what she does best: classic romantic-suspense. The story of a small town hiding its deadly secrets is a compelling page-turner.  

Lucy Sheridan is 16 when she first tangles with 19 year-old Mason Fletcher. He drags her out of a wild party and drives her home. “Who appointed you my guardian angel?” Lucy wants to know. “I’m not anyone’s guardian angel,” Mason says. “I’m doing you a favor tonight.” Lucy senses there is more to the story, but it will be thirteen years before she returns to Summer Island and learns the truth of that long-ago summer party.

Fletcher was removing Lucy from a party filled with booze and drugs and one seriously demented teenager who had planned to film his rape of Lucy and post it on the Internet. The cold-blooded teenager, Tristan Brinker, who had set his sights on Lucy, disappeared mysteriously after the party and has not been heard from since Lucy left town.

The Lucy who returns to Summer Island, California thirteen years later to settle her aunt Sara’s estate is the picture of a successful career woman, working as a forensic genealogist.

The only thing missing from her life is love. Mason Fletcher now runs a successful security firm with his brother. He is home to visit his uncle who owns the local hardware store. Lucy drops into the store for light bulbs and sees Fletcher for the first time since she left town after the ill fated party.

Mason Fletcher lounged against the sales counter, a gleaming wrench gripped loosely in one hand. He regarded Lucy with a lot of interest infused with a dash of cool disapproval. She found the combination both annoying and unnerving.

But the real problem was that Mason looked even better now than he had thirteen years ago when he had figured so powerfully in her fevered teenage imagination. Her first reaction upon walking through the door of Fletcher Hardware had been primal and flat-out breathtaking. I’ve been looking for you.

Fletcher is not unhappy to see Lucy.

Mason did not take his eye off Lucy. He did not want to take his eyes off her. Yesterday, when he’d heard that she was back in town, he’d discovered that he was suddenly curious to see how she had turned out. But he had not been expecting the kick-in-the gut shock of excitement that had hit him when he got his first look at her.

In an effort to get closer to Lucy, Fletcher offers to help with her home improvements, which in turn lead to a shocking discovery at the house that is part of the chain of events that began at that fateful party thirteen years ago.

Fletcher helps Lucy unravel the mysteries, for there is more than one. In addition to the house, Sara has inherited shares in Colfax Inc., the company responsible for the sleepy little Summer Island being changed into a trendy wine country boutique town. The shares place Lucy in the middle of the Colfax family feud. Some want her shares to ease out Colfax, Sr. while he wants the shares to expand his winery. In addition to the demands from the Colfax family, the local realtor hassles her to sell her house to a winery. Before Lucy can do much to spruce up the house it’s set afire by an arsonist and burns to the ground.

Fletcher’s guardian angel instincts move into high gear, and he does everything he can to keep Lucy safe. The sexual tension mounts between the two as they try to understand what’s happening. But Lucy is wary of a romantic entanglement. After finding her fiancé in bed with another woman, she dumped him, and she has been told by her therapist that she has commitment issues; that’s why she can’t find Mr. Right. Lucy’s dating service sends her a text when a match is found. Fletcher wants to know why her phone keeps chirping.

“It’s just the agency,” she said.

“Brookhouse Research?”

No, the online matchmaking agency. They notify me whenever their computers kick out a possible match.”

. . . “Is that so?” He realized he was speaking between set teeth. “Get a lot of notifications?“

“That’s my second one today.”

He willed himself to remain calm.

“No luck?” he asked.

“So far nothing has clicked.”

Oh, yeah, the commitment-issues thing.”

“Yes. But my profile looks good…. The good job has been a big asset for me, by the way.”

“Is that so?”

“They say that women prefer men who make a lot of money. But it turns out the reverse is true, too. You’d be amazed by the number of men who are looking for wives who make high salaries.”

Before he reaches the boiling point, Fletcher thinks it’s “time to change the subject.” He turns the conversation to the deadly doings in the town.

Someone has died in the house fire, another is poisoned at the winery, the long-missing Tristan Brinker turns up unexpectedly, and all events seem linked to the Colfax family. As they make their way through the mystery maze, Lucy asks, what are you “looking for, Mason Fletcher?”

“He traced her cheekbones. ‘My own personal guardian angel. I met her thirteen years ago. I’ve been looking for her ever since. Now I’ve found her again, and I’m not going to let her go. I love you, Lucy. The being-in-the-moment thing is all well and good as far as it goes, but when it comes to us I want now and forever.”

Will Lucy commit herself to Fletcher “now and forever”?  Will more people die? Will the mysteries be solved? Readers of River Road, Krentz’s best novel in a long time, will have fun finding out the answers.

 

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Susan Amper, author of How to Write About Edgar Allan Poe, still mourns the loss of her Nancy Drew collection.

Read all posts by Susan Amper on Criminal Element.

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