|Romancing the Renegadeis number three of Ingrid Weaverís PayBack Series, and each plot seems to stretch the imagination further and further.
Almost 25 years ago, 170 million dollars in gold bullion was stolen and
never recovered. The man suspected of the crime was Zach Dorland Smith,
apparently because he had worked at an office associated with the gold, and disappeared soon thereafter.
In a flashback, five-year-old Lydia Smith is with her mother in a desert when she dies. All that is revealed is that her mother promises her that her father will come and take her to safety. Lydia has managed to block this from her memory.
Her father had lived with Lydia, a virtual recluse. In an attempt to give credit where due, she includes her fatherís picture with her in a photo recognizing her achievements in the working world. Soon there after he is attacked and dies from his injuries, the world now realizing he was the infamous gold robber.
Everyone is convinced Lydia knows the location of the stolen gold, so in fear she flees Denver, her job, her assets and her past. En route she is run off the road and terrorized by a band of thugs wanting to know where she is going and where the gold is hidden. Unbeknownst to her, they are members of the Canyon Brotherhood.
Derek Stone, former FBI agent discharged after an aborted theft of a jewelry store to secure assets to repay a gambling debt, has made a
deal with Tony Monaco. Fans of Weaver will recognize the deal. He provides you with a new start but you repay the debt at his discretion and with what he demands. In his role of seeker of justice now, he calls Derekís debt, asking for the destruction of the evil Canyon Brotherhood.
Derek is running out of time and since he someone knows that the
Brotherhood will be after Lydia, he follows her and arrives in time to rescue her. Happily, they are close to his home, built on the edge of a mountain with extraordinary security measures. He takes her there and since her money has been stolen and her car wrecked, persuades her to stay awhile.
Gradually Lydia trusts, and gradually she loves (about a week) and she shares her plight with Derek, which is of course what he has been after. In a race against time, since Monaco starts repossessing Derekís assets, Lydia is gradually able to recall some of the incidents of her motherís death and the tie-in with the Brotherhood is what eventually will solve the mystery.
Characters are pretty well developed although the plot really requires
suspension of disbelief, especially since it is a stretch to connect the dots from a bullion robbery to the certainty that Zach committed it, to his hiding the gold and to his daughter (24 years later) knowing where it is hidden and to being able to take someone there. The setting works well enough, although consistent with the book, everything borders on the extreme.
The romance between Derek and Lydia rocks along with good pacing and
contributes more to the book than the suspense plot. It is fortunate that Weaver is a good writer and that her dialogue has sufficient momentum to lend enjoyment in the characters in this rather tenuous story.