Book review: 'Cold River' is light and enjoyable

By JanaLee Stocks Brown

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, Jan. 15 2012 5:00 a.m. MST

"COLD RIVER," by Liz Adair, Walnut Springs Press, $17.99, 324 pages (f)

"Cold River" is a new romantic suspence novel by Liz Adair, her seventh printed book. Adair is best known for her Spider Latham mysteries and her work in the area of Mormon family history.

This novel follows the journey of Mandy Steenburg, a native of New Mexico, as she moves to Washington to take the position of superintendent for a backwoods school district in the small town of Limestone. She is unwelcome in the district, taking the place of the very popular Grange, who is now her assistant superintendent, and, shortly after her arrival, mysterious attempts to drive her from the town begin.

"Cold River" is a light read, with emphasis on romantic entanglements and small-town politics. The dangers Mandy faces are real but easily addressed. She's never in so much danger that there isn't someone immediately available to render assistance or explanation. It would have been encouraging to see the resourcefulness she shows in helping the schools put more to use in helping herself.

Her troubles in the school district mostly arise from finances and different attitudes on how things should be run, all which settle as she figures out personalities and she and Grange learn to work together. The romantic issues come from a past relationship and three very quickly developed romances in Limestone. The pacing of these relationships seems a bit rushed, and at no point is it really explained why she's instantly so attractive to all the men in town except that she's someone new and exciting. So while things end sweetly, it leaves the reader wondering if any of her romantic choices can really last.

Readers expecting a complex thriller or a dark suspense book may be disappointed with "Cold River," but those looking for light afternoon entertainment will enjoy it. The content is family friendly, with no sexual issues beyond a few kisses and a frank discussion about reasons not to let physical intimacy progress. While there is danger and some potentially violent situations, these are neither graphic nor overly threatening.

The family relationships are well done. Especially entertaining is the sibling banter between Mandy and her young sister, who joins her in the backwoods and also falls in love ... not with a boy, but with bluegrass.

Jana Brown is a freelance writer, wife and mother. She is an avid reader, who resolves one day to have a full database of all the books in the house. She blogs at cornabys.wordpress.com.

Twitter: Cornabys

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