Friday, January 17, 2014

Review: River Road by Jayne Ann Krentz

River Road by Jayne Ann Krentz
published by Putnam in January 2014
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 . . .
Genre: Contemporary romance, Romantic suspense
Series: N/A

The Story: The blurb for River Road is pretty accurate, so I'm just going  to add a few details. Lucy Sheridan was 16 years old the last time she visited her aunt, Sarah, and was bailed out by then 19 years old Mason Fletcher. It seems the golden boy, Tristan Brinker, was into drugging and raping young girls and Lucy was his intended next victim. However, a week after the party, Tristan mysteriously disappeared.

Now, Lucy is back in Summer River to clean and ready her aunt's house before putting it on the market... but in truth, she's suspicious about the car accident, because Sarah knew River Road very well and was not the only one to die. Mary Colfax, Sarah's business partner and probably more, also died in that accident and Lucy is suspicious because of the timing. Mary detained a controlling block of shares in Colfax Inc. Colfax Inc. is a hedge fund business that was started by Mary's brother, Warner Colfax, and Tristan Brinker's father. After Tristan's disappearance, Warner bought out Brinker's father and Colfax Inc. is now solely owned by family... A family divided into two camps because of the possibility of a major merger/acquisition that would bring in millions to its shareholders: Warner who wants to keep a legacy even though he's more interested in his new wine business and all the rest of the Colfax family. Mary would have had the deciding vote due to her shares... and now Lucy is as she's inherited them through Sarah. As soon as she arrives to Summer River, Lucy starts being courted by all sides, but she won't do anything before she finds out the truth... Especially since her suspicions are only reinforced with the gruesome discovery in Sarah's house .

My Opinion: A few years ago, I posted an inquiry about a romance novel I read as a teen and wished to re-read, but for which I couldn't remember the author or the title ^_^; Thanks to blogland, the online book community and Kris, I was able to identify the book as Deep Waters by Ms Krentz... and its re-read spurred me on a Jayne Ann Krentz' binge :) Anyway, all this to say that I'm a pretty big fan of what I term as Ms Krentz' "classic/old school books", i.e. the contemporary romance stand-alones she used to write before she started taking a paranormal turn and linked her contemporary books with the other ones she wrote under her other pseudonyms into a really big series. That's why River Road caught my attention, because its blurb was reminiscent of old school JAK... and that's pretty much what I got :)

While I was looking forward to River Road because of the old school JAK factor, I was also a bit wary, afraid that the story would be too predictable. Every author has a writing/story pattern and Ms Krentz is no exception. However, I was pleasantly surprised by some interesting twists in the story. These twists weren't major, but they were enough to mix things up and change the direction of the plot. Reading the prologue, I really thought River Road would be about Tristan's murder and Mason, the main suspect, but it wasn't. That was nice and somewhat refreshing :) The rest of the suspense was quite good. A bit familiar if you have read The Golden Chance, because it does revolve around the Colfax controlling share; however, Ms Krentz added a lot of other elements to it and she was able to tie it all up together.

In my opinion, the romance wasn't as good as the suspense. Oh, it works because you can feel that Lucy and Mason do share a bond. It's simply that the romance wasn't, well, romantic ^_^; I don't know the extent of Lucy and Mason's acquaintance when they were younger, but it seemed they knew each other well enough. Their attraction never went beyond an unspoken crush, but even then, they were aware of each other. Thirteen years later, their relationship just picks up from where it left off. They are still aware of each other, but this time around, they have to deal with some subtle sexual tension. They haven't seen each other ever since that night Mason bailed Lucy out of the party, but they've had updates of each other through their aunt and uncle. For me, the romance between Lucy and Mason was believable, especially since both expressed their feelings quite well. However, their romance was pretty factual and a bit dry ^_^; Unfortunate because I actually liked Mason and Lucy's characters. I liked that they had reached a time in their life when they were content and were competent. They were two mature characters, even with their baggage... Then again, now that I think about it, perhaps their romance was a reflection of themselves LOL. They took the mature and logical way dealing with it.

As usual, I did have some quibbles with the book. There were some details that I feel Ms Krentz didn't expand enough. I guess it's the way the story was written, there were things she didn't have to explain... but it would have been nice if she did, instead of having the readers take it at face value. For example, it was mentioned a couple of times that Tristan seemed to fear or be threatened by Lucy's aunt, Sarah. It would have been nice to have a concrete example. It also wouldn't have hurt if Ms Krentz had expanded on Mason and Lucy's bond. It went quite deep if at 19 years old, Mason was ready to kill Brinker to protect Lucy. What kind of feelings, relationship could spur such dedication?


My Grade: B. Overall, I quite enjoyed River Road for what it was, a straight contemporary romance book with a healthy dose of suspense. The fact that it felt like a classic JAK book was a bonus :) I do wonder if Ms Krentz plans to write about Lucy's two best friends and perhaps Mason's brother... Having the books connected without it being a series, series - I would like that :)


3 comments:

  1. Oh! JAK was one of my auto buys for a long time. I loved her contemporary romance books. And I read some of her Amanda Quick books too for a while. I think I still may have a few Jayne Castle books around?

    I'm going to get this one! It will be wonderful to catch up with JAK again. :)

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  2. I'm glad you liked this, Nath. I really like her older books and this sounds similar to that style...but with a twist--even better.

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  3. Hilcia - I think you'll enjoy this one Hils :) For what it is, I was happy :) I discovered JAK late, so I never got into her other pseudonyms books... which now, I guess is not a bad thing LOL.

    Jan - It is similar to her older style, Jan. No paranormal... although the hero is not a businessman LOL. Would have been nice it he was :P

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