Trust Me by this author is one of my favorite books of all time. In that novel the author’s mix of zany characters, dangerous mystery and sweet romance is darn near perfect. In this newest novel by the author she leaves the paranormal behind to once more return to straight mystery. I absolutely loved it.
Lucy Sheridan’s trips to Summer River to visit her aunt Sara used to be an annual event. Then a fateful summer thirteen years ago saw her summarily sent home after being dragged out of a party thrown by the “in” crowd. A party which she had hoped would raise her rep with the movers and shakers in the small town but had instead resulted in the embarrassment of having the object of her latest crush drag her home and rat her out to her aunt. Everyone called Mason Fletcher an old soul but to Lucy he was just an overprotective jerk whose good looks didn’t make up for his need to incessantly protect and serve. Lucy’s visits with her aunt continued but they were short vacations and get togethers in other spots. She has never been invited back to Summer River.
Now Aunt Sara has died and Lucy is the sole heir to her estate – and a partial heir to that of her girlfriend Mary. While Aunt Sara had some valuable land it is Mary’s estate that carries the promise of real wealth with it. Shares to a successful local family company were left to Lucy, shares that this family desperately wants back. Lucy, a forensic genealogist, knows just what kind of trouble unexpected inheritances can cause – both to the person who inherits and the person who had expected to. She is convinced that she will be stepping into a minefield when she returns to Summer River. The suspicions she has regarding the accident that killed Sara and Mary should add to her concern but instead, they are the impetus for her visit. Certain that foul play was involved in their crash, Lucy is determined to find out just who had it in for them.
That might be easier said than done. Summer River has gone from being a small farming community to being a trendy hot spot for California wine aficionados – or for those who like to think of themselves as such. As an heiress who owns a sweet piece of land with an orchard and an unexpected recipient of those company shares, Lucy’s entrance into town is duly noted. Almost immediately she finds herself surrounded by people anxious to buy what she’s not selling. Looking for a break – and some light bulbs for her aunt’s home – Lucy stops in at the local hardware store.
Mason Fletcher had taken Lucy’s teasing about protecting and serving and turned it into a career, first in law enforcement and now in running a successful security firm with his younger brother. Burnout after a particularly difficult period has him home in Summer River visiting his uncle. He might not work in hardware anymore but he still knows his way around a hammer and is glad to be the one behind the counter when the newest customer strolls in. He isn’t surprised to see Lucy show up to personally handle her aunt’s estate but he is surprised at the strong attraction he feels for her the moment he lays eyes on her again. After some chit chat regarding contractors and lights, he agrees to help her assess her aunt’s home to see what kind of value it brings to the property. Mason may no longer use his home repair skills very often but he’s happy to dust them off if it means spending more time with Lucy.
The agreed upon rendezvous of do it yourself repairs and dinner finds Mason and Lucy moving into a new relationship. There had never been a big age difference between them but their relative positions to 18 at the time they met had kept Mason from acting on his interest. Now he is free to indulge his passions and he finds he is feeling it in spades for Lucy. Lucy’s crush for Mason has changed, turning into an interest in an attractive man who is a very viable option for a possible relationship. Both have been burned and approach this first meeting with caution, anxious to make a good impression and get to know each other better but leery about how that is best done.
Turns out in their particular case it is best done by removing the tile Aunt Sara had used to cover the opening of her gorgeous stone fireplace. But what they find behind the tile changes everything. And moves Mason and Lucy very firmly into the middle of an extremely dangerous situation.
What I loved about this novel is the easy, pleasant reading experience it provides. The pacing was such that I never entered into a frantic “whodunit” guessing game but at the same time I was never bored. It was a comfortable read without ever falling into the territory of bland; it actually provided exactly what a reading experience is supposed to – an enthralling, relaxing, enjoyable afternoon.
A large part of what made this book so fun to spend time with is the characters. Mason and Lucy are terrific. You’d want to sit next to them on a plane or be stuck near them in a long line. The author does a great job of fleshing them out and letting you experience them as real life human beings. They’ve had money concerns. There have been -and still are – family issues. But both of them are nice, solid, kind people you would want to befriend.
I didn’t just like Lucy and Mason as characters but adored them as a couple as well. Part of what made their relationship so special is that they were such adults about it. So often in romance novels we watch the love story of two immature teens who snarl at each other, fall into bed and snarl at each other. While the courtship here is unusual it is a courtship complete with going from getting to know you to passion in a normal fashion. You can see why the characters fall in love because it is all right there on the page. They spend lots of time together where they enjoy each other’s company. They understand each other – the glitches, the ticks, the thought patterns. They have a lot in common from somewhat similar career paths to their deep desire for finding the right person to commit to and making it stick. I felt confident of their HEA knowing that if I visited in 20 years they would still be a happy, steady couple.
A polished professional like Ms. Krentz always delivers excellent writing and in this case it is backed by an interesting, enticing story and absorbing mystery. If you are a fan of romantic suspense at all this book is a must read. If you aren’t, then this story may just be a great place to start.