By Alex Lawrence

Onyx Books - October 2000
ISBN 0-4510944-2 - Paperback
Romance / Contemporary  /

Reviewed by: Jo Rogers, MyShelf.Com 
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David and Angie Thomas have been married for twenty-five years, and they're having a party to celebrate.  But Angie's agorophobia is so strong, she can barely attend the party she planned, even though all the guests are close friends.  It is only at the coaxing of her best friend that she descends the stairs at all.  And then, she only stays long enough to exchange gifts with David.

His gift to her is the big diamond ring he'd promised her when they married.  He couldn't afford an engagement ring then.  Now, he is a successful aarchitect, and the huge stone with rubies on each side is a small token of his love for Angie.

Angie's gift to David is a whitewater-rafting trip to Elkhorn Lodge, where they spent their honeymoon.  It is a big step for Angie, whose agorophobia has confined her to the house and yard for the last ten years.  David knows her irrational fear has been triggered by the crib death of their youngest child, daughter Kiri, ten years ago.  Though Angie finally stopped smothering the two older children, Amanda, now fourteen, and Jon, now twelve, the feelings of inadequacy and failure still haunted her and grew into a monster she couldn't conquer.  Though she tried her best, it proved more than Angie could do to go on that trip.  But she insisted that David go on alone.

Frustrated by Angie's failure, David went alone to Elkhorn Lodge.  At the sight of the rustic hotel, David felt the memories come flooding back, memories of their honeymoon, when a shy thirteen-year-old girl, Sierra Stone, had saved his life.  She had been a pretty child then, but she is a beautiful woman now.  And she runs Elkhorn Lodge now.  The previous owner, Sierra's father, had died, leaving Sierra to carry on alone.

That night, Sierra found that weather changes had caused some cancellations.  There would be only five on this trip, Sierra, David, seventeen-year-old Brooke Knight, eighteen-year-old Jake Williams, Sierra'a hired hand, and Chester Cade.  Chester is celebrating his sixty-fourth birthday as he had the previous twenty-one, going whitewater rafting.

Since all were veteran rafters, Sierra decided to take them on a more challenging section of the river.  Jake and Brooke were mutually attracted, and Jake kept his eyes on her more than his equipment checks.  It was a mistake that would place them all in danger and prove nearly fatal to two members of the party.

There was also a growing attraction between Sierra and David.  It was an attraction they both fought, because standing squarely between them, though she wasn't physically present, was Angie.  David had pledged to love her for the rest of his life.

The rafting was fine, until halfway through the trip, when signs of changing weather caused Sierra to check the radio.  Jake, with his eyes on Brooke, had carelessly packed the radio where it had accidentally been turned on, and the battery was dead.  The cold front seemed to be coming early, but without the radio to contact the lodge, they couldn't be certain.

While Sierra and Chester were checking the radio, David was on the safe part of the river, practicing his kayaking.  Jake and Brooke had climbed to the cliffs that overlooked the river and were hiking along the top.  Suddenly, the cliff's edge gave way under Brooke, and she fell into the river, and didn't surface.  Jake could see her from the top of the cliff, and David followed Jake's directions and found her.  With difficulty, he pulled her out of the water and did CPR on her.  When she was breathing on her own, Jake and Chester hauled her to safety.   But David lost his paddle in the process and was sucked into the current.  Unable to do anything to help himself, David remembered his kayaking lessons, and positioned himself to survive a trip over the falls.  Sierra, in the other kayak, followed him over in an attempt to rescue him.

By morning, Brooke is very ill, and it is up to Chester and Jake to get help for her, David and Sierra.  Fortunately, Chester has forgotten more about survival than Jake ever knew.  But they have to survive another set of rapids.  Can they get help before the storms hit?  Will David survive and go back to Angie?

The Passage is a well-crafted adventure of the heart as well as the river.  It will keep you engrossed to the very end.

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