Luscious and Lethal is the first in a The Gilded River Chronicles by Mary Raimes Curtis. It is a great book to curl up with and contains a lively romance between two complex individuals, set against the ever present threat of sinister events on the shores of the Atlantic. This novel is the second I have read by the author, the first being Tamed by the Hawk, a historical novel, which I also enjoyed.
In Luscious and Lethal plus size supermodel Dani Renaldo has taken refuge in her rural property at Jancy’s Cove, after the fallout from her bitter and public divorce from her abusive and cheating ex husband and the loss of her unborn baby. She hopes to regain her emotional strength and also develop a new business venture with her friend Jay, which she hopes will help compensate for her financial losses after her divorce and give her a new focus.
It is not long before Dani meets Simon Morse, in an angry and emotionally charged confrontation, in which they trade insults. Not only is Simon, her neighbour, somewhat reclusive, but he is also the business partner of a local woman, Laura, who Dani wants to do business with. Despite their bad start, they strike up a friendship and Dani tentatively opens up to him about her abusive marriage and her past. There is strong mutual attraction and they embark on a sexual relationship. Whilst Dani is sensitive and finds it hard to trust, Simon fights his own demons due to events in his own past and finds it hard to commit. There is great banter between the two of them as they navigate their way through a physical and emotional entanglement that neither expected nor know what to do with!
Dani ploughs ahead with her new business venture. However, her peace and tranquillity are periodically shattered by phone calls from her greedy and sadistic ex husband, who demands yet more money and will sink to even greater depths to secure it. There is also someone prowling around her property and a mysterious boat comes in and out of the cove at night. Events become more and more sinister as the plot unravels.
This novel has an engaging romance at is heart and the author’s characterisations of the main couple, Dani and Simon are excellent. Both the hero and heroine have their own issues to come to terms with and I liked how they helped each other to do this. It was sometimes a rocky road for them and sparks flew on more than one occasion. Neither of them is perfect, Dani appears to blow hot and cold and Simon is sometimes a little thoughtless in what he says. But perfect characters would make for a very boring read! It is their road to redemption and future happiness we are interested in and it was heart warming to see how their relationship solidified throughout the novel. There were also plenty of intimate moments shared between the main couple, which I like to see in my romances! A secondary romance featuring Laura and Jay, who are interesting characters in themselves is also featured. The local community contains a wealth of colourful supporting characters, which I hope to see later on in this series.
The suspense element was ever present and well paced. Due to Dani’s ex husband, the prowler and the goings on at night in the cove with the boat, as a reader I was never sure where the next threat would come from. Danger was always lurking in the background before coming to the fore. I would have liked to see a little more emphasis on the role of Dani’s ex husband in the plot, but saying this there was plenty to engage the reader without this element being strengthened further. I was also pleased that the suspense did not overshadow the romance.
I liked the author’s descriptions of the natural environment, encompassing the sea, the shoreline and the tranquillity of the green interior. The author also refers, through the characters, to the healing powers of nature and small town communities. I was awed by the descriptions of the yummy dishes consumed by the characters and wish that I had a man in my life who could cook as well as Jay or Simon! Knitting and cats, as well as a very special dog also make appearances in the tale.
I recommend this book to lovers of romantic suspense, contemporary romance and chick lit.
Author’s website www.maryraimescurtis.com
Publisher’s website www.museituppublishing.com
Cover art by kind permission of Marion Sipe www.marionsipe.blogspot.com