A Korean War veteran finds love with a younger woman facing brain surgery in this debut romantic thriller.
In this book’s prologue, U.S. Army Capt. Lance Bonner bails out of his exploding plane during the Korean War. With skill and stealth, he takes out more than 50 pursuers on the ground before being rescued two weeks later. He returns to civilian life, his exploits known only to military insiders and, of course, the North Koreans, who dubbed their elusive target “the knife monster.” Flash-forward to Bonner, now age 67. Lonely since his Alzheimer’s-afflicted second wife began living in a facility the year before, he registers for online dating, listing “I cry at movies” on his profile and expressing interest in hearing from women ages 50 to 65. Vicki Lutil, 32, believes that he’s just the kind of man that she needs, so she changes her profile’s age to 52. They soon meet and experience an immediate connection, spending idyllic days dancing, sky-diving, volunteering at a soup kitchen, enjoying Bonner’s Maine lake house, and, of course, making love. Early on, though, Vicki, who’s jittery and prone to tears, confesses that she’s facing dangerous brain surgery and may have only a week left to live. Bonner accompanies her to the hospital on the date of her surgery—and action scenes ensue, revealing a mob plan to recruit Bonner to take out a rogue drug lord killing Drug Enforcement Administration agents in South America. There’s drama and fantasy aplenty in this multigenre novel by first-time author Daviau, who, like Bonner, is a retired Maine lawyer. He effectively uses Vicki’s pending surgery as a ticking time bomb in the plot, and he also evokes surprising sympathy for his unlikely couple; both are laid low by circumstances but also find true love. That said, there are some challenging tonal shifts as events move from the rosy, languorous Nicholas Sparks–like glow of the couple’s time in Maine to a breakneck, bloody, and often befuddling plot in South America (why, for instance, does the mob care about DEA deaths?). Overall, however, it’s a highly appealing hybrid.
An oddly compelling mashup of sweet romance and action-adventure.