By Jayne Ann Krentz, 1996 reissued 1998, Contemporary Romance
Pocket, $7.99, ISBN #0671019627
Mattie Sharpe has met the perfect man - Hugh Abbott. Unfortunately, he's engaged to her sister, Arial. Mattie is not discouraged; she knows her sister well. The engagement will not last - all Mattie has to do is wait.
True to form, Hugh and Arial break up. The night before Hugh is scheduled to return to his South Sea island home on St. Gabriel, Mattie picks up her courage and invites Hugh to stay over. She plans to seduce and propose to him. Hugh arrives at her place a little drunk, and they end up in bed. In the morning Mattie reveals her love and asks him to take her with him. For Hugh this is a lousy timing. He just swore off women, and he certainly has no plans to get involved with a Sharpe sister. In a less than tactful way, he tells her she is not his type, then leaves for home.
It doesn't take Hugh all that long to realize he's made a mistake. But Mattie is avoiding him. He chases her for a year, then cooks up a plan with the help of her Aunt Charlotte (he used to work for her). Aunt Charlotte is a weapons collector, and she asks Mattie to bring her an old sword from Paul Cormier, another collector, who lives on Purgatory, another South Sea island.
Paul is Hugh's friend, and Hugh plans to corner Mattie there and make her listen to him. Naturally everything goes wrong. Mattie gets lost. Mattie is late. Paul has been murdered. There's a coup going on. Hugh arrives and together they manage to flee the island.
Hugh is an arrogant man, an alpha hero. He assumes he can say the magic words to Mattie, and they can pick up where they left off a year ago. Mattie is much more skeptical. She does not believe Hugh truly loves her - she thinks he finds her convenient and willing. Mattie, who has spent her life trying to live up to family expectations, and failed because she lacks artistic talent, is tired of being second best. If Hugh truly wants her, he's going to have to prove it. Why should she leave her successful gallery and go live on a god-forsaken island? True, she had been willing to do that the year before, but that was then and this is now. Hugh agrees to move to Seattle (where Mattie lives, where else?) to show her he is serious. He also thinks that it will be a piece of cake to convince her to move to his island home. But Mattie is wise to his plan and wants someone to consider her feelings for a change.
As time goes by, Mattie sees that Hugh is really serious, but anxious that he'll get restless in Seattle. Hugh, on the other hand, sees how well Mattie fits in her world, and thinks it would be cruel to take her out of it. He starts to seriously think about moving to Seattle. She starts to seriously think about moving to St. Gabriel. You can guess the end.
I have only focused on Mattie's and Hugh's relationship. The book has much more to offer. There is the mystery of Paul Cormier's murder, Mattie's and Hugh's different backgrounds and growing relationship, the secondary characters, and more.
This is a funny, smart, and sexy book with some very witty dialogue. Mattie is very much a modern woman who knows what she wants, and goes out to get it. She's very brave, smart - in short - a JAK heroine. Hugh is adorable, and admirable; throughout the book you see Hugh's determination to win Mattie over. Once he's decided she's what he wants, he never wavers. Both characters have depth, and you always understand why they act the way they act.
This is one of my favorites books by JAK. I only read it five times this year. I'm sure you'll love it too.
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