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Indy River
The American
Indy River, author
An American tourist at a Chinese monastery accidentally overhears an illegal international arms deal and witnesses two murders. She is now on the run with the ten-year-old son of one of the murder victims, while being pursued by assassin-monks and a few countries' governments, and is forced to trust people who may not be trustworthy.
An American woman looking for a peaceful retreat in a Chinese monastery must flee for her life after witnessing a murder, but finds adventure and love along the way in River’s lively spy thriller-romance. Kelly grabs Li, an endangered boy, and ropes in longtime friend Qing to help her escape, carrying a mysterious box with a deadly secret. Joining them is Durango, who starts by helping them and steals Kelly's heart —but has his own agenda. He also displays some deadly skills that belie his claimed profession as a tour guide. The four make their way across China, as Kelly, caught in an international conspiracy, must trust her heart through every breathtaking twist and turn.

River delivers an entrancing travelogue along with the suspense story, showcasing moments like Kelly's reaction to a traditional Burmese meal as well as a haunting night in a tent surrounded by leopards and monkeys. The trip is punctuated with passionate romance—"he crushed me in a maddening embrace"—which alternates with Durango's penchant for brutal violence in protecting his friends. The narration frequently jumps to different points of view, which sometimes increases the tension but also at times proves jarring. And the plot, especially the various motivations, gets confusing, especially with its lengthy wind-up. But the characters, and their journey, are so engaging, that such concerns scarcely matter.

Indeed, it's really the characters that will keep the readers turning the pages. Kelly is an absolute delight, distinguished by a charming mix of fearlessness and naivete. More than a mere damsel in distress, she has a rich backstory that illuminates her character and makes her infatuation with Durango believable—even as it's clear he's not being entirely honest with her. Also nicely limned is Kelly's sibling-like relationship with Qing, at turns sweet and amusing, creating a wholly original love triangle. Readers will rapidly turn pages until the exciting and satisfying conclusion, hoping the resolute Kelly and her much-battered heart come through.

Takeaway: Fans of romance-flavored thrillers will love taking an international journey with such a winning heroine.

Great for fans of: Leslie Silbert’s The Intelligencer, Rosalie Knecht’s Who Is Vera Kelly?

Production grades
Cover: B+
Design and typography: B+
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A-