A woman in peril and the man who must keep her alive are thrown together and have only each other to turn to during moments of danger. Sounds really exciting, doesn’t it? However, this strong premise was undermined by somewhat weak characters in this cabin/road romance.
Former concert pianist Lauren Brownley finds herself hiding in a bathroom cupboard after she witnesses a drug killing that involves her boss, Carlo Giovessi. Though she manages to run away, Lauren knows that it’s only a matter of time before Giovessi’s men find her. When the news reaches the FBI, Special Agent Sam Grey Wolf Rawlins is assigned to make sure that Lauren remains alive to give her testimony. Sam doesn’t have the best working relationship with his boss, but work is work. Sam is pretty annoyed to find that he’s attracted to Lauren on sight. Her testimony, however, is important enough that Sam must fight his attration in addition to keeping her alive and safe from Giovessi’s men. Sure enough, an attempt is made on Lauren’s life, then as they try to escape on a plane, she and Sam find themselves alone in the frozen wilderness.
Sam suspects that one of his coworkers is working for Carlo Giovessi, but he doesn’t know who it is, so he can’t call for help. He and Lauren find shelter and it is at this point that the story begins to get repetitive. Again and again, Lauren proves incapable of the most basic tasks (the explanation that she’s been sheltered throughout her life doesn’t wash) and, again and again, Sam alternately yells at her then lusts after her. Much later in the book, however, Sam apparently has a change of heart (or a loss of memory) because he remembers Lauren as being strong and capable from the beginning. Logic is also missing as Sam and Lauren hike as they are trying to escape from Carlo’s men and keep her alive for her testimony. We’re told Lauren is ready to drop from exhaustion and yet they keep hiking and hiking for hours – in snowshoes no less – which seemed a little unlikely.
I found neither Sam nor Lauren easy to like. Sam thinks Lauren is Carlo’s latest mistress, and therefore the lowest of the low, which of course doesn’t stop him from wanting her, but he goes overboard in how he treats her. Surely FBI agents often protect criminals and/or unlikable people, but I would imagine they would behave professionally regardless, particularly if the person they are guarding is not a felon. That is simply not the case here. What’s worse is that too many plot points are resolved too quickly. I’ve read many romances with similarly happy endings that took place after a very brief “courtship,” but I didn’t buy this one, nor did I believe in the quick resolution of Sam’s hostile relationship with his father.
As for Lauren, she goes from innocent and naïve to clueless, and it doesn’t help that she argues with Sam during the worst possible times. It also seemed unbelievable that she wouldn’t have figured out that her luxury lifestyle wasn’t being paid solely by her.
Although a lot happens in The Witness – including murder, intrigue, chases, escapes, some hot scenes, and a courtroom showdown – the characters themselves were not at all engaging and made this book difficult to recommend. A good romantic suspense novel needs a suspenseful plot and believable, interesting, and ultimately likable characters. Ginna Gray got part of that equation right, but not all.