Genre: Thriller / Suspense / Action Romance
Publisher: Barton Creek Press
Date of Publication: January 4, 2016
Number of Pages: 348
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It’s summer 1993 in Austin. Two young lovers decide to move in together and open a cafe only to be hindered by their own pasts, drugs, and bad guys from New Orleans. Set in Austin, Texas in the early nineties.
Bobby Patrick, abandoned by his mother as a child and by his alcoholic father during high school, wants a better life for himself and his true love, Katie. The couple decides to open a café and chase their dreams under the radiant Austin sunsets. There, the long, hot days of summer in inspire their passion–but complications arise when Katie’s former love interest returns, bringing with him a whirlwind of trouble.
As Katie’s dark past reveals itself, Bobby fears it could threaten all they have been striving for. Along with Katie’s best friend, Sara, with whom Bobby has his own secret history, the couple becomes tangled up in a drug deal and falls under close watch by Austin police and New Orleans mobsters.
Bobby must find a way to protect Katie, help Sara, and help himself to thousands of dollars from the ill-fated deal. If he can’t, his future with Katie could be shattered forever.
Part romance and part suspense story, Riverside is a tell-your-friends-about-it, good old-fashioned crime novel about a young couple struggling for the American dream, and the lengths to which they will go to protect it.
“A steamy tale and beguiling thriller, with plenty of local color and some provocative twists.” – Kirkus Reviews
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I didn’t even read the synopsis before signing up to review this one. To me, there is only one Riverside in Texas. And just as I figured it would be, that Riverside is Burlison’s Riverside as well.
My Riverside was cheap, somewhat ghetto (really depended what complex you lived in), but had great eats and epic college parties. In fact, most apartments on east Riverside wouldn’t let you live there unless you were a college student.
Burlison’s Riverside houses college dropouts with a similar backdrop, despite the 20-year time difference. (By the way, I didn’t notice the year it was set in until they talked about the Clinton administration.) These young 20-something-year olds seem to drink beer, smoke weed, and have sex around the clock when they’re not working shifts or eating at iconic restaurants such as Kerbey Lane and Trudy’s.
As soon as Paul shows up leading a parade of coke heads to back bedrooms, you know that something bad is going to go down. Especially when you find out that he’s responsible for the stitches on our protagonist’s noggin. The ape chest thumping of young males throughout the book can be annoying, but I found myself worried about Bobby’s well being.
As juvenile as Bobby and Katie’s romance is, I still wanted them to make it out of this thing unscathed. A tall order when Katie’s best friend is the increasingly erratic Sara, who is obviously jealous of the two’s relationship (you find out later why). Not to mention, Sara is willing to do anything to help her boyfriend Paul. And Katie wants to look out for her friend. Of course, Bobby is a standup guy who won’t let anything bad happen to his girlfriend Katie. You see where this is all going?
Throw in an older lesbian couple who grows hydroponic weed and a cop buddy willing to help with messy matters for a cut of the money, and you’ve got quite the colorful cast. I didn’t know what to expect but I found myself hoping that the two lovebirds didn’t end up in jail or dead.
Riverside was an entertaining read and I recommend it especially to anyone who has lived or partied in Austin. I will be on the look out for more of Burlison’s work.
Brett Burlison is a writer, lawyer, and Texan living in Northern California. He grew up in the piney woods of East Texas and went to school in Austin.
He practices law in San Francisco, and writes romantic suspense stories about young couples up against difficult odds.
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