This is about the 10th time I have tried to write a review for this book. Which I read in about 2 days. That tells you its well written but extremely problematic.
I need to tell you. Everything the heroine believes in turns out to be true. But that doesn't make the book better; just worse. Also tbh the main couple who are initially presented as being an antiquities expert (her) and a bush pilot (him) actually turn out to be a couple of quite sordid low-lifes.
Another caution. The novel is chocabloc full of men owning and using weapons. With the result that a number of completely innocent people are terrorised and/or seriously injured.
I never realised that the antique jewellery business was so incredibly dirty. Or that a necklace and earing set could be worth half a billion dollars.
In theory the story contains adventure, exotic (cold) locations, romance and a happy ending. And there's a lot packed into quite a short novel.
Let's discuss the romance. Actually there's not much. It's more like a 'will to couple' on his part. I always take a step back when the author has the heroine admit she kissed 'countless others.' Because in theory that makes it about 10 times as hard to persuade the reader that the heroine is falling in love in the novel itself. (It's like sabotaging your own work.) Believe me. I never got persuaded that the heroine doesn't kiss or hump like you and I shake hands when we meet someone new. There is one big love scene towards the end of the book. It seemed to me that the heroine used her body to get the hero to disclose the whereabouts of the missing earings....and then she knowingly betrayed that knowledge to his enemies for some half baked scheme she decided upon without the hero's slightest consent. In the hope that 'everything would turn out all right.' Which it did. But only because its a piece of fiction.
The heroine turned out to be the daughter of a hooker. A hooker who kept her daughter hungry and dressed in hand-me-downs while she bought glamour wigs and short skirts for her trade. But of course. Daughter absolutely dotes on Mommy. Eventually Mommy gets a respectable job where she immediately falls for a guy. But when she tells the guy she used to be a hooker the guy dumps her. So Mommy goes straight back to the life...the rough life. And when she gets beat up by a john the daughter beats the guy to death. But the daughter, our 29 yo heroine, still dotes on her dead hooker Mommy. Because they were the 'best of friends'. In my book, the hooker Mom had an abusive relationship with her daughter. What's more the daughters fixation in finding a substitute father figure exactly mirrors the hooker Mommy's fixation in finding a respectable fiance to marry. But Ms 'PhD' Isabella couldn't see that. And in believing the loathsome Marcus Fie is a kindly caring old man Isabella goes to Alaska to ask Luke for help. But in actual fact Isabella is being sent to flush out Luke by the bad guys. Because they know he can't resist a beautiful body...and they also seem to know that Isabella isn't going to say 'No' to Luke. Jeez. I wonder how they came to that conclusion!
Terrible things happen to Isabella. She gets shot and doesn't go to get the wound treated. She gets pistol-whipped. Of all things. And about 2 hours later in the very next scene is humped by the hero. One of the bad guys cuts her gun wound with a knife in order to make her suffer. Two minutes later she's sitting on evil ol Marcus's lap twittering happily at the reconciliation between father and son. In fact. Isabella is a serial victim. Completely not in control of her own destiny. Bad enough she was emotionally blackmailed by her mom into committing murder. (Thank goodness the stupid woman died.) She was manipulated into going to Alaska. She allowed Marcus to pick her up in college. She is an employee who lives with her employer. And ever so slightly sociopathic. The expecting Roseanne being shot in front of her eyes produced a minimal emotional reaction on her part. She closed her eyes to the goings on in Marcus's house for 8 years.She can do that because she has no moral compass other than her own needs and wants. Totally another legacy from the hooker mom from hell. That's not my kind of heroine but I can see the potential appeal for other readers.
Before the final chapter I had grown to hate Isabella. For her stupid idolising of her hooker mom. And for the pain and destruction that followed in her wake once she arrived in Alaska. How did she come to locate Luke? Why didn't she have any conversation with herself about that maybe he had the right to remain lost to his Dad? What Isabella actually did was a gross invasion of Luke's privacy. After reading the final chapter I just felt guilty that I'd hated Isabella so much. I still didn't like her. I said to myself 'I need to reread this story to see Isabella in a different light.' But I couldn't bring myself to do that.
I liked the heroLuke/Adam for quite a while. He at least, had some idea of the violence and criminality of his former life. That is until he admitted he drunkenly shot some completely innocent interior decorator by mistake thinking that it was his father coming through the front door. And he admitted he was a violent robber on behalf of his father. In fact Luke's life as Adam, together with his bro's Nate, Zack and Leon is an excellent case study for stricter gun control. And poor ol innocent Anna got drawn into that cesspit and paid for it with her life. The vision of Marcus skipping off into the sunset left me feeling nauseated.
In the end Isabella and Luke probably deserve each other. No doubt in a couple of years he'll shoot her dead in a drunken row because she's decided to move some 'misunderstood' teenage crack addict into the house.
A ghastly couple. I felt so sorry for Cort. All the money in the world can't undo brain trauma. No way will he be able to go back to being a bush pilot.