Genre: romantic suspense
Cover: not original.
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 . . .
When Lucy was sixteen years old, she was staying for the summer with her aunt in Summer River. Her parents were divorced, and she still had trouble accepting that. Lucy was a nice and responsible girl, so going to a wild party given by some older teenagers, was not something in her character. But the most popular girl in school had invited her at the lat moment, and her aunt Lucy and her girlfriend were out of town, so why not?
But she did not really like the drugs and alcohol they were all having, and had made her mind up about walking back home, when Mason Fletcher arrived, intent of taking her back with him. Of course it was embarrassing to be taken away like that, but driving at night alone with Mason should be very romantic. If he ever looked at her like she wanted. But he was just lecturing her, like the responsible almost adult he was, and made her promise to stay clear from Tristan in the future.
The next day, Lucy was put on the plane by her aunt though, and was told never to return. Her parents kept a very close watch on her for a whole week, until her aunt called that Tristan was missing and supposed dead, that Lucy was safe. Of course Lucy was never told that Tristan had intended to drug and rape her at that party. She never went back to Summer River either, but she did stay in close contact with her aunt Sara and her friend Mary. They visited Lucy often, and they went on holidays together.
And now Lucy’s aunt Sara and her friend Mary have died in a car accident, and Sara has left everything to Lucy. She will have to go back and close up the house and put it up for sale. The house itself is old and gloomy, but the land it is standing on is worth a small fortune, as Summer River has become a very popular tourist attraction in the new wine country. Farms and orchards have made place for vineyards and rich people’s mansions, and the small village has a lot of trendy boutiques and restaurants.
And then there is the hardware store, which has not changed at all, and really does not fit in between the chic art gallery and restaurant next door. But Lucy is glad it is there, as she needs some new lightbulbs and tools, and some advice on contractors. To her big surprise, Mason Fletcher is behind the counter. His uncle bought the store years ago, so aunt Sara had told her, when he resigned his commission from the army. Mason has not changed much, he has grown into the man he promised to become, and still looks mighty fine to Lucy!
And Mason sure is happy that little Lucy has become all grown up too; he hasn’t felt this instant attraction to a woman since his marriage fell apart. So when she needs help at her aunt’s house he quickly offers himself, and invites himself to dinner at the same time. As Lucy is on a tight budget and time frame, she only has two weeks off from her job, she accepts his offer of help. But when after dinner Mason starts working on tiles that are blocking the beautiful old fireplace, they sure are not ready for what they find inside. A body! Could her aunt Sara really kill Tristan and hide his body for thirteen years? She was a vegan before it was invented and would not even hurt a spider! But it sure explains why she never wanted Lucy to visit again.
Other things start happening, and Lucy is determined to get to the bottom of it all. Apart from her aunt’s estate, Lucy also inherited some important and very valuable shares from Mary, in her family’s company, and all the other shareholders are very intent on having her sell those shares back to them. Apparently there is a multimillion dollar merger at stake. But Lucy doesn’t believe anymore that it was a normal carcrash that killed Sara and Mary, and she is determined to find out the truth. With Mason’s help.
I’ve been looking forward to this new Jayne Ann Krentz book for a while now. Although I really enjoy her Arcane and other paranormal series, she used to be very good at writing “straight” romantic suspense. But having read this book in one afternoon, I am smiling to myself, as she just can’t let the psychic part completely out of her new book. Lucy’s aunt Sara sure sounds not only eccentric, but psychic to me.
I really liked Lucy, she was calm and unflappable about the things that happened, perhaps in some instances a bit too much. She did not fall apart after being attacked with a glass of beer, or after finding a dead body in the fireplace. Mason tried to take charge of Lucy a few times, but she never let him get away with it, and I liked her for that. You go girl, it is your life and your decisions to make!
Mason was a real hero as I like them. Immediately sure that Lucy is the one, and wanting to protect her at all costs, but not unreasonable or smothering. He let her set the pace of the relationship, and did not push too much, but made it clear he wanted her.
Now, the mystery part, that one was good. I never for one instant suspected the person who was behind it all. I was focused on Mary’s family, the patriarch, his money grubbing second wife, his weak son and his wife. Who is also the girl that invited Lucy to that party 13 years ago. And who invites her to a party at the winery this time, where she gets confronted by all those family members.
I enjoyed reading about this small village and how the hype of vineyards have changed it in just a decade. It was a really nice setting, but this is a real character driven story. I liked the main characters, but also the secondary characters a lot. Like Mason’s uncle and his lady friend, Lucy’s old friend and even the ones I suspected. A colourful lot. I think the start of the book, what happened 13 years ago, lays a nice ground for the story in the now. I am not much a fan of flashbacks through out a story, and now you know what happened.
I do recommend this book if you like romantic suspense. It is not a thriller, but it is a really nice read. And it surprised me at times.
© 2014 Reviews by Aurian