Setting: Modern Day
Relieved that her aunt seemed to have reluctantly accepted her decision, Courtney began finalizing her departure. The next morning, she did all their washing and began to pack. As usual, Devanna ignored her and gave all her attention to the baby.
Toward late afternoon when Jamie went down for a nap, Courtney decided to enjoy one final sunbath on the roof.
"Good idea. You've been as pale as a bleached rag lately," her Aunt commented with her usual bluntness.
As she put on her bathing suit, Courtney had a momentary flicker of regret. Even though the atmosphere inside the houseboat had been oppressive, outside the sun, the beautiful view of the lake, and the pleasant climate had offered her some enjoyable moments.
And then there was Neil...
Her eyes were misty as she turned away from the deck, and started to climb up the narrow ladder.
She made it nearly to the top.
Then it happened!
The ladder suddenly puled away from its fastenings and she was flung backward.
She screamed as she hit the deck railing with such force that it broke, splintered and raked her arms and legs with deep cuts. One end of hte falling ladder hit her head and propelled her over the side of the houseboat. Black water drew her down and down. Kicking and flailing her arms, she barely made it back to the surface...
Back Cover Synopsis:
A lonely houseboat on an isolated dock was not what Courtney Collins expected when she and her infant son arrived at Hidden Cove for the summer. But their cold, mysterious host was Courtney's reclusive aunt and the only family she had left.
As the days passed, the hostile atmosphere was broken only by their landlord Neil Ellsworth's charming attention to Courtney.
The sexy-but-forever-single businessman offered a strong shoulder for Courtney's uncertain fears and for once Courtney could foresee a happy future. But her dream was shattered the moment her baby was kidnapped. With few clues and a nearly spotless crime scene, could Neil hold the key to unlocking the truth?
I had mixed feelings about this book, once completed. Yes, it was full of action and had a solid mystery from beginning to end...the problem is that from the beginning, we already know what the mystery is. The mystery was good, but it was completely predictable.
That being said, I also disliked the personalities of both characters. Courtney was so cold and evasive that it was nearly impossible for anyone to permeate the stone wall she'd become. And Neil didin't make her want to with all the constant talk of all his women friends he's left in the dust and how he's a 'forever' bachelor. These two seemed an unlikely pair. I found it weird that Neil would find all the wealthy, young, beautiful society ladies in his circle unworthy of his time yet he'd find an insane love attraction to a woman with a baby, a mystery, and a shady past. The romance was unrealistic, but I guess anything can happen.
Despite this, I did read the book in a day. It was an interesting, quick read. The author writes well, and there was enough chaos to keep things interesting enough to finish the story.
If you enjoy the Harlequin Intrigue line, I'm sure this book will be enjoyable. It has a few gothic elements, but this is not a gothic romance.
Best Gothic Elements: musty old creepy houseboat, a kidnapping, a heroine who has no other family and has come to spend the summer with an eccentric aunt, murder, gunshots that sends a car flying over the edge of a cliff (the hero and heroine barely escaping with their lives)