cover image Beyond Risk

Beyond Risk

Connie Mann. Sourcebooks Casablanca, $7.99 mass market (416p) ISBN 978-1-4926-7255-5

This contemporary romantic thriller, set in the wild state parks of central Florida, stumbles occasionally, but it’s mostly charming, exciting, and thoughtful. A year ago, kayak tour leader Charlee Tanner couldn’t save a teenage boy, JJ, from drowning. On the anniversary of JJ’s death, someone fires on the tour she’s leading and another teen nearly dies. Charlee quickly realizes she’s the target, and the killer begins attacking people she loves to get to her. Charlee and her closest friend, Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission Lt. Hunter Boudreau, team up to find the killer, and along the way they discover romantic feelings for each other. The plot is brisk and gripping, if occasionally cluttered, and Charlie and Hunter’s growing relationship is supportive and sexy in all the right ways. Both characters grapple with past traumas, and their healing processes are compassionately portrayed. Side characters and their motivations are often merely sketched out, sometimes in ways that lean hard on stereotypes of mental illness and disability. Nonetheless, the strong sense of place and thrilling action make this worth picking up. Agent: Amanda Leuck, Spencerhill Assoc. (Feb.)