River Road by Jayne Anne Krentz
Trade Paperback, 336 pages
January 7, 2014
Reviewed by Tori
Lucy Sheridan left Summer River thirteen years ago, never to return. Dragged out of a party by her teenage crush, Lucy finds herself placed on a plane by her Aunt Sara the next day and never allowed to return. Lucy does return when her aunt is in a fatal car accident and leaves everything to Lucy. Lucy is shocked but pleased to see her childhood crush is all grown up and even more attractive when she happens upon Mason Fletcher.
Mason saved Lucy that fateful night long ago though she saw it more as him embarrassing her in front of her new friends. Now older and wiser, Lucy knows exactly why Mason dragged her from the party and now sees Mason for the hero he was. She also hopes Mason sees the woman in front of him and not the teenager he rescued.
A lot has changed in thirteen years. Mason Fletcher has left the police force and now owns and runs an investigative agency that focuses on cold cases. He’s back in Summer River for to take a break from a particularly bad case. Even the town is less sleepy and more polished with its wine country personae. Mason’s still a born protector though and when he and Lucy make a gruesome discovery in her Aunt’s fireplace, Mason is determined nothing will happen to Lucy on his watch. As the clues pile up and suspects come out of the woodwork, Mason’s guardian angel instincts go into over drive. But this time, Lucy is determined to save herself.
River Road is a lightweight romantic suspense by Jayne Anne Krentz. As a longtime fan of her work as Krentz, Castle, and Amanda Quick, I was looking forward to reading this. I found the first half was methodical both emotionally and physically. Our protagonists, Lucy and Mason, are bland and their dialogue was stilted and awkward. Their reactions to certain situations were lifeless. In one particular scene, I expected some hysterics, even if mild and short natured. Most people would have been upset, perhaps having a small emotional breakdown – not these two. While I felt Krentz may have been showing them in their “investigative” mode, for me it was odd and didn’t’t go over well. It’s about halfway in when the characters start to appeal. We begin to see some life and personality in them. Dry witty humor emerges along with some mild action and intrigue.
The mystery is interesting though I was able to figure out most of what happened by the three-quarter mark. Krentz lays out plenty of clues, suspects, and theories for us to mull over as she slowly reveals the connection between what’s happening now and what happened thirteen years ago. Krentz does well in flipping between the past and the present without confusing the reader. I did feel the anticipation and tension was missing in the story overall. I never felt fully vested.
The romance builds slowly as the couple thaws out and becomes more personable. I enjoyed their sly wit and banter as they became more comfortable with each other. Nice physical scenes though they aren’t explicit. I liked we see their emotions verbalized as they fall deeper in love.
The ending is predictable in a dramatic fashion as the villain(s) make their move. All the questions are answered and we get our happily ever after. Though this wasn’t a favorite of mine as it lacked the fire and tension I’m used to in her work, I think most avid fans will enjoy this lightweight romantic suspense for what it is.