I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, Revell Books, in exchange for my honest review and participation in a blog tour.
I could not put this book down. Gilbert’s characters are real, the plot fast-paced and full of surprises.
The story takes place in San Antonio, Texas, and Dr. Juliet Ryan, extremely competent and well respected in her field of quality assurance in the food industry, has recently joined the bottled water company, Larimar Springs, as its quality assurance director. She has addressed a North American Food Safety Symposium in Chicago which she takes as recognition that she is on her way up in her career. Her personal life, however, is in a bit of a turmoil. Estranged from her father, she almost goes out of her way to go against him in all circumstances, but especially in her career. He has broken trust with her, and as a result, she is untrusting of men in general, men in business in particular. Putting her career ahead of everything personal, she has no-one but her mother to share her innermost thoughts and insecurities. When that one relationship is taken from her, Juliet finds herself in the middle of a food contamination crisis with no idea who she can trust. She believes her control measures at Larimer Springs have been more than adequate, but bit by bit, as children are dying, and her company’s biggest customer gets closed down, her confidence begins to erode. The memory of her mother’s quiet, sustaining faith, and her ability to forgive, eventually lead Juliet to search within herself to find the strength to forgive her father, and to reach out to him as the only one left who might be able to save her career. After the way she has treated him and the lack of forgiveness she has shown for his indiscretions, will he be willing to help?
Gilbert’s setting of San Antonio springs to life as Juliet walks along the riverside, through the market, dines in the restaurants, and visits the Menger Hotel where Teddy Roosevelt formed the Roughriders. Gilbert has used her personal experiences as a legal investigator and trial paralegal during the Jack in the Box restaurant outbreak in the mid-nineties, and her husband’s knowledge of the food industry, to present a very realistic scenario of an outbreak of E. coli 0157:H7. Her characters are certainly believable and varied; some of the corporate types sound familiar and yet, Dr. Ryan’s help unravelling the source of the contamination comes from surprising contacts among her co-workers. The empathy one feels for Juliet, for her assistant, Tavina, and even for her father as he tries to win back his daughter’s trust and affection, is very real, and compelled me to keep reading to the end in almost one sitting. (I did catch a few hours sleep in between two sittings.) This book is one of the best books I’ve read in a while. I’m going to have to read the first one in the series now. * * * * *