David Cristofano grabbed me with the first chapter. We meet a young woman, toiling away her time as a math teacher – a teacher who has lived 20 of her 26 years in the Witness Protection Program. She has gone through so many names, May Adams, Karen Smith, Anne Johnson, Jane Watkins, Terry Mills, Shelly Jones and Linda Simms. Each name has become more forgettable as the years went on. We meet her as Sandra Clarke, but after 18 months as a math teacher in Maryland she tells the United States Marshal Service that danger is near. In reality there is no danger. More than anything she just wants to be herself again – Melody Grace McCartney.
One day, a six-year-old Melody and her parents left their New Jersey home for a day out in Manhattan. While on that journey, they have the misfortune of witnessing a murder at the hands of mafia boss Tony Bovaro. From that day on the lives of the McCartney family are forever changed. They are forced into the Witness Protection Program. As a teenager, the Bovaro family catches up with Melody’s parents and kills them. Orphaned Melody is now without her anchors – her parents.
At 26, she has changed her name and hair color more times than she can count, now she has to deal with a new caseworker – Sean. Sean vows to keep her safe, but a new man Jonathan Bovaro offers Melody a chance to get her life and freedom back. The only catch is she has to come with him to face her past. Despite the danger, Melody goes with him. Along the way the two of them fall in love, but several forces fight to keep them apart.
Cristofano definitely knows how to pull the reader. He gets right to heart of the matter – a woman’s fight for freedom and love. There are definitely some Bonnie and Clyde and Romeo & Juliet qualities to this book. Jonathan and Melody come from different backgrounds. No one wants them together --- not the Feds and certainly not the Bovaro family. Jonathan and Melody don’t kill anyone, but they choose to go on the run and flout the law. While the situations in the book might not seem realistic to some, including myself, I enjoyed the book from start to finish. Cristofano manages to take a horrible situation and turn it into a love story. I highly recommend reading it.