Review: Romantic Road by Blair McDowell

perf5.000x8.000.inddFormat read: ebook provided by the author
Formats available: ebook
Genre: romantic suspense
Length: 290 pages
Publisher: Wild Rose Press
Date Released: January 28, 2015
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon,  Kobo, All Romance

When Lacy Telchev buries her husband she finds herself in treacherous waters. Igor, much older than Lacy, had secrets. Suddenly Lacy is being chased across Europe by men who believe she can lead them to those secrets. Evading her pursuers with the aid of a chance acquaintance, the handsome and mysterious Max Petersen, Lacy travels across Germany, Austria and Hungary, to a shattering discovery in Budapest.

Along the way, she meets three women from Igor’s past. As Igor’s story unfolds through them, Lacy is less and less certain who her husband really was. Who can Lacy trust? Will she survive to find out?

My Review:

An alternate title for Romantic Road would be a paraphrase of the old song, “To all the girls my husband’s loved before.”

Lacy Telchev finds herself running around Europe, visiting the important women in her husband’s past, in order to retrieve pieces of a secret that he left behind. But while Lacy hides herself under multiple identities, sometimes not even one step ahead of the bad guys who are chasing whatever it is her husband left for her, Lacy is also chasing the past of the man she loved and married, but perhaps never knew.

She thinks she’s doing one last thing for him. It turns out that he is doing one last thing for her – only part of that thing makes her live on the run, often in grave danger, dodging bullets, bombs and kidnappers.

Igor was dead, to begin with.

When Lacy married Igor, he was 50 and she was 22. He had obviously lived a life before he met her, and his confidence and experience was no small part of what attracted her to him. That, and he knew how to sweep her off her feet. But while Igor knew everything about her relatively short life, She knew next-to-nothing about him. And he kept it that way.

After 5 years of marriage, three blissful, two fairly awful, he was dead. A second heart-attack had ended his life. Or so it seemed.

In the events that unravel after Igor’s death, Lacy comes to discover that she never knew the man she married. Igor left her a safe-deposit box filled with cash and multiple identities, along with instructions to visit his former lovers and retrieve material he left with them for safekeeping.

Igor died while writing a book. He had been an operative for the International Criminal Court, among other pieces of a more misspent life than Lacy had imagined. Igor knew which governments were dealing with terrrorists, criminals and organized crime. He had information that could bring down multiple corrupt powers, as well as expose one of the most insidious organized crime syndicates in the world.

Igor scattered the chapters among his old lovers. His last act was to send Lacy to find those chapters, and discover all the other secrets that he kept from her. But there are too many people who are willing to kill to suppress what Igor knew. And now they are all after Lacy, who has no experience living on the run and dodging crooks.

Or even, as it turns out, determining which are the crooks and which are the good guys after all. In Igor’s world, the world that Lacy has been thrust into, everybody lies.

Those lies may cost Lacy her life. If she survives, those lies cast their long shadow over her chance at a new life.

Sonata by blair mcdowellEscape Rating A: Like all of Blair McDowell’s marvelous stories (The Memory of Roses, Delighting in Your Company, Sonata), this romantic suspense tale operates on more than one level. There are the secrets that Igor wanted to protect, and the secrets that he kept from Lacy. He was both letting her help him one last time, and setting her free.

But Igor seems to have been someone who simply steamrollered past obstacles, so he either didn’t predict how much danger he was putting Lacy in, or he did and knew it would be the making of her.

Lacy has to pull herself out of the cocoon she has been living in and risk everything to find Igor’s legacy, and to find herself along the way. She also has to reach for her future while performing a task that lets her bid a firm goodbye to her past.

What she finds about Igor lets her know him better, even as it breaks her heart one last time. But it leaves her open for something new, while Igor’s life and Igor’s secrets are still all around her.

Lacy does not go on her journey alone. She intends to, but she just isn’t trained as a undercover agent. Igor’s friends help her, as does a man she first meets through Igor’s friends, but then discovers is always around when she needs him. Max Peterson attaches himself to Lacy to help her, but Max keeps almost as many secrets from Lacy as Igor did. When she discovers that Max is not the only man who is following her, she stops trusting everyone, with predictable, but disastrous, results.

The Romantic Road is a real place, the Romantische Strasse, in Germany. Lacy travels it both figuratively and literally as she tours Europe to find her husband’s old lovers, and possibly finding a new love of her own.

If you enjoy edge-of-your-seat suspense with a heart-pounding romance wrapped around a story that also makes you think, read Romantic Road or any of Blair McDowell’s marvelous stories.

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