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River of Eden    by Glenna McReynolds order for
River of Eden
by Glenna McReynolds
Order:  USA  Can
Bantam, 2002 (2002)

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* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

A tanned, tattooed, larger-than-life hero with a brilliant mind; a feisty, single-minded heroine who goes by the name of 'Amazon Annie'; the lush and dangerous Brazilian rain forest; mysticism and sorcery; giant anacondas that can swallow a grown man whole; megalomaniacal villains who file their teeth to Piranha-like points; enchanted orchids guarded by magic ...

The above may read like the plot of a new comic book or cheezy Saturday afternoon adventure movie, but Glenna McReynolds' River of Eden is far above either of these comparisons, not only in plot, but in characterization. Annie Parrish and William Sanchez Travers are both renowned ethnobotanists. While Travers has left Harvard and notoriety behind, Annie is determined to finally make a name for herself. But first she must return to a location deep in the Brazilian jungle to recover orchid specimens the like of which few have ever seen. Annie knows of Travers and of his fall from grace in scientific circles and is wary of any sort of partnership with the rogue scientist. But he seems the only one able to get her upriver, past men determined to stop her from finding the elusive orchids she's after. From the moment Annie strikes a deal with Travers, their lives, not to mention their hearts, are continually at risk.

River of Eden is a marvelous, richly woven contemporary romantic adventure that comes along once in a blue moon. McReynolds not only presents an engaging, descriptive and atmospheric plot, but truly stand-out characters. Both Will and Annie's individual quests are hard enough without the added burden of the sizzling attraction kindled from the instant they meet. Will is under the control of a powerful shaman and is following a pre-ordained destiny, from which he cannot escape. Annie, too, is harbouring secrets of her own, not the least of which is her recurring nightmare of a giant snake terrorizing her and those closest to her, including Will. How McReynolds deftly moves her story forward and then ties up all her intriguing plot threads makes for a truly satisfying and edge-of-your-seat read that even the most die-hard adventure lover will appreciate. She does leave the ending somewhat open ... we can only hope that River of Eden won't be Will and Annie's last adventure.

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