Title: Lines in the Sand
Author: Lyn Gala
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Characters: Carl Ragar, Pete Barbu
POV: 3rd person
Cover Rating: 4.5
Three years ago, Carl Ragar turned on the mob. His conscience couldn’t handle the murder of an innocent bystander, and he had to turn his back on his mentor, Petroc “Pete” Barbu, a man he’d admired and lusted after. Pete made no apologies for his job as an enforcer, but he’d never planned to get himself or Carl involved in the murder of a reporter. When Carl turned state’s evidence, Pete couldn’t even pretend to be surprised.
Now Pete’s still on the run, and Carl is unceremoniously dumped out of witness protection. Two men tangled in their own pasts, they will have to face the shifting moral lines in the sand that drove them to make disastrous choices. Once Pete and Carl were partners who trusted each other with their lives—now they’re struggling to save their souls.
Carl Ragar has a moral compass that points slightly off center, but at least he has one, which is why he turned informant for the police three years earlier. He’d helped to bury his share of bodies while working for the Romanian mob—each of those souls snuffed out because, well, in Carl’s mind, they all had done something to deserve a quick and painful demise. But when an innocent woman is caught in the crossfire, slain simply because she was at the wrong place at the wrong time, it’s more than Carl’s conscience can bear. There’s black, there’s white, and in Carl’s mind, there’s no room for the gray area of collateral damage in mob business. There is a distinct sense of right and wrong, and he soon finds himself singing like the proverbial canary, sending his boss, Mr. Lomik, as well as Lomik’s underlings, to prison.
But even in this skewed perception of ethics, Carl will still make his own rules when it comes to how much information to hand the police. There’s still such a thing as loyalty in Carl’s mind, and while he’d handed Pete Barbu, his mentor and the object of his desire, over to the criminal justice system, Carl didn’t go so far as to gift wrap Pete with a big red bow on top to receive the maximum sentence. Carl did things on his own terms, leaving an opening for Pete to have some semblance of a life outside prison walls.
Doing things his own way is the reason Carl got himself drop-kicked directly out of the witness protection program. His refusal to give up his one true passion got him dumped directly back into the old neighborhood, and directly into the line of fire of anyone who cared to take their revenge out on the man who’d tightened the noose around each of their necks. When Pete Barbu shows up after three years of running and hiding, Carl is convinced his hours are numbered. The former mob enforcer has surely returned to erase Carl from existence.
Lyn Gala has written a terrific redemption story. This is about getting a second chance in life, even though the first chance was a bit of a miss for these men, to say the least.
Lines in the Sand is a suspenseful and fast paced story, and Carl and Pete are a couple of pretty interesting and colorful characters, for sure. Pete is definitely the dominant personality, but it’s Carl who draws that imaginary moral line in the dirt; it’s he who sets the boundary for Pete, then makes sure Pete understands that crossing the line is not acceptable. It’s a challenge for Pete, issued by the one and only man with enough credibility to make Pete want to pass the test.
Reviewed By: Lisa