In Rae’s debut romance/suspense novel, a grieving widow and a successful musician find love and mystery in St. Croix.
In Kansas City, Missouri, Andrea “Annie” Whitman receives the devastating news that her beloved husband, Jack, has been killed in a car accident. She first seeks solace with her husband’s family before drowning her sorrows in alcohol. Her grief turns to suspicion, however, when a series of curious incidents causes her to question the circumstances surrounding her husband’s death. She receives a set of keys at the reading of Jack’s will that leads her to a box hidden in a crawl space; in it, she discovers a passport with her photo and a false name and a set of photos taken in St. Croix. Determined to discover the truth behind her husband’s death, she travels to the Caribbean island, where she meets Kessler Carlisle, a country-music superstar enjoying an early retirement in the tropical paradise. Although romance is the last thing on his mind, he connects with Annie immediately and passionately. As their attraction deepens, they also uncover Jack’s web of deception, which places the lovers in grave danger. Rae’s novel includes some solid stylistic flourishes. Its most successful element is its structure: most chapters are told from either Annie’s or Kessler’s first-person point of view, with many of the same events shown through both their perspectives. This technique effectively develops the characters as they let down their guards and take their first steps toward romance. Rae also uses the island setting well when crafting her action sequences. However, the book’s editing is spotty; for example, Kessler says he lives in a “1900s Tutor” instead of a Tudor. Also, even though the dialogue seems intended to be a bit rough-hewn, its pervasive profanity (“Looking back, I was the fool: the clichéd Monet—lovely from afar, straight fucking mess up close”) may alienate some readers.
A tale of love and intrigue with a clever narrative structure and pleasant Caribbean setting but hampered by editing and dialogue issues.