An interior designer becomes the unwitting target of a covert, lethal group in Orvis’ (Rough Cut, 2015, etc.) romantic thriller.
After two men accost Olivia Paxton, it’s soon revealed that they’re the irate brothers of a woman named Nina, who’s been sleeping with Olivia’s husband, Cole Paxton. Nina is pregnant, they say, and Cole has allegedly been abusing her. Not long afterward, Olivia finds out that her husband gave her chlamydia. Meanwhile, she puzzles over a cryptic note that he dropped: a phone number and the initials “N.R.” Could it be Nina? It’s Olivia’s discovery of the note that scares Cole the most, as it’s connected to his involvement with a clandestine group that’s proven itself capable of murder. Cole flees before armed men show up at their house, but Olivia is rescued by gardener Derek Olsen, an apparent secret agent who’s been investigating the mysterious organization. He and Olivia go into hiding and soon develop mutual romantic feelings as they try to dig up clues about who, exactly, is after them. The romance between Olivia and Derek in Orvis’ novel may be predictable, but it’s unquestionably well-earned. The brisk narrative devotes a copious number of pages to the relationship, but it always feels organic and believable. As the two learn more details about each other, such as why Derek blushes so often, they form a shared sense of trust. The suspense comes and goes—there are stretches with no signs of villains or viable threats— but the action does ramp up near the end. A strange but compelling plot turn reveals the organization’s purpose and origin; more importantly, it allows the story to showcase Olivia, who proves to be resourceful on her own. Occasional descriptions of technology can be confusing, though, as when Olivia plays a CD to watch a short video—which she then “rewinds” to watch again.
A tale with generous amounts of romance and peril featuring a convincing and entertaining protagonist.