Outskirts Press (2016)
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (12/16)
“The Willing” by Gary Smith is a romantic fiction filled with action and suspense. At 65 years of age, Warren Steelgrave refuses to sit around waiting to die, convinced there should be more to retired life than playing golf with his cronies. A remarkable chain of events finds Steelgrave in Florence, Italy, where he enrolls in an Italian language class. Steelgrave quickly warms up to Cindy O’Brien, the only other American in the class. As the two become acquainted, Steelgrave realizes Cindy is in trouble, and vows help. The two embark on an adventure that may turn out to be more than they had in mind as they find themselves on the run. Who are they running from, and what does the FBI and Homeland Security have to do with it all?
I was inspired to read “The Willing” based on my inclination to gravitate toward romantic suspense. Give me people that set out against all odds and obstacles to find love and happiness and I’m there. Yet, while the story has a spirited action plan and unique characters, I was unable to connect with much enthusiasm. I wanted more depth from the protagonists, something to make me care about them. There are also some editing issues. An overall tightening of the story would be beneficial to the flow of the plot, as some of the transitions are a bit choppy. There are also instances where Steelgrave’s character switches in and out of the first person point of view, which is disruptive to the story.
I give “The Willing” by Gary Smith 3 out of five stars. I was attracted to the framework of the story and think a few tweaks could take the book from good to great.