The Black Diamond

Emerald Garden

The Gold Coin

Legacy of the Diamond

The Music Box

The Theft

Wishes In The Wind

Run For Your Life by Andrea Kane
(Pocket, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN: 0-671-03656-4
Another historical author moving to contemporaries! For many avid romance readers, this sounds like bad news. However, in the case of Andrea Kane’s excursion into the world of romantic suspense, this change of pace may be a very good idea. I found her latest historical novels lacked the same appeal as her earlier books, in part because the suspense elements of the plots seemed anachronistic. By placing her latest novel in the contemporary world, Kane has created a setting that allows her free rein to create a complex and compelling thriller.

Attorney Victoria Kensington is taking her regular run through Central Park early one morning when a figure lurches out of the bushes. Victoria has a hard time recognizing the figure with the bloated face, the mottled complexion and the glazed eyes as her sister Audrey. Audrey blurts out a number but while Victoria runs for help, Audrey disappears.

Victoria knows that Audrey, supposedly in Italy, is in horrible trouble and is determined to find out what is going on. She confronts her father Walter, one of the city’s most powerful lawyers, but he claims ignorance of Audrey’s whereabouts. But Victoria is shrewd and determined; she discovers that the phone number belongs to Hope Institute, a private medical institution that caters to the very rich and the very sick.

Victoria’s visit to Hope Institute catches the attention of the authorities. They are very interested in the place, believing that it is involved in illegal drug smuggling. One of their consultants is Zachary Hamilton, a world renowned expert on competitive intelligence. Zachary takes on the task of discovering why the daughter of Walter Kensington, the Institute’s counsel, makes an unexpected visit to the premises. Zachary’s motives are personal; four years earlier he and Victoria had been lovers, but their relationship had foundered on the rocks of misunderstanding. Since neither had gotten over the other, their shared determination to discover the secrets of Hope Institute brings them together and permits them to rekindle their lost love.

The plot of Run for Your Life has innumerable twists and turns. Clearly, something very suspicious is going on at Hope Institute, but what? And what is the involvement of Walter Kensington? I have a feeling that experts in police procedural might have problems with some of the plot elements, but this uninformed reader kept turning the pages avidly. And the end was a shocking surprise, although Kane clearly set everything up very nicely.

As a fan of reunion romances, I can say that Victoria’s and Zachary’s love story is well done. Their parting was, as is so often the case, based on differing goals and misunderstanding. It has left both of them shy of recommitting, but neither doubts their feelings.

Kane has created an interesting - and large - cast of characters. Victoria is clearly the protagonist here. The story deals not only with her romance, but also with her relationship with her domineering father who has tried, and failed, to force her into his mold. In Walter Kensington Kane has created an all too accurate portrait of the kind of man who has ruthlessly pursued wealth and success and shows us the price others must pay for his ambition.

Zachary, too, has his own demons from the past. A brilliant man with an unusual profession; "competitive intelligence" implies using legal and ethical means to gain the kind of information a business needs. He works with the FBI to bring down the drug ring for personal as well as patriotic motives. His pursuit of these criminals helped destroy his relationship with Victoria once before. Now, the woman he loves may be in danger.

Run for Your Life is a good romantic suspense novel. Kane manages to provide some unexpected twists and turns that kept me turning the pages. Her contemporary debut may disappoint some of her historical fans, but it is nevertheless a most entertaining read.

--Jean Mason

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