A man and woman struggling with the ghosts of their pasts find an unexpected connection in Regnery’s (By Proxy, 2013, etc.) romantic thriller.
San Franciscan Brynn Cadogan’s loving fiance, Jeremiah “Jem” Benton, is murdered just before their wedding day. Paralyzed by grief, Brynn spends two years in self-imposed isolation from family and friends. Meanwhile, in the shadow of Maine’s Mount Katahdin, a man named Cassidy Porter lives off the grid in a cabin built by his grandfather. When Cassidy was 8, his father, Paul Isaac Porter, was arrested for murdering 12 girls. Ostracized by the community, the boy and his mother retreated to the cabin, where he now lives a solitary life. As Jem’s birthday approaches, Brynn discovers that just before his death, he started to send her a text about Mount Katahdin. Determined to pay tribute to her late fiance, she travels to Maine to bury his cell phone on the mountain. There, Brynn is brutally attacked by an unknown man. Cassidy rescues her, takes her to his cabin, and nurses her back to health. Brynn soon falls in love with Cassidy, but he fears that he could someday turn into a killer like his father; he wants to protect her, if it means saying goodbye to her forever. Regnery’s latest novel offers appealing main characters and a satisfying, tightly constructed narrative. The chapters alternate between Brynn’s and Cassidy’s first-person points of view, which allows Regnery to illustrate how each of their life experiences has left them feeling alone. It also offers moments of deep introspection, especially early on, when a conversation with Jem’s twin sister, Hope, forces Brynn to consider moving on with her own life. Cassidy is similarly well-drawn, as he deals with his legacy as the son of a notorious killer. Brynn and Cassidy’s relationship develops at a steady pace as they bond over their shared love of movies and reading. The descriptions of the Mount Katahdin setting are vivid and bracing: “And so I set forth again…climbing through brambles and over rotting logs as the rain beats down upon my bare head, bathing me in heaven’s tears.”
A well-balanced blend of action and romance.