Desert Isle Keeper
The cover and synopsis of Delaney Diamond’s latest contemporary romance Do Over were what drew me to it; the execution of the plot and the sexy results are what will make me take a look at her extensive backlist. Ms. Diamond’s Brooks Family series is about an extremely wealthy African American extended family who run an assortment of businesses including a fashion house, a brewing company and a chain of restaurants. Do Over is the story of heiress Ella Brooks and a cop who meet under less than ideal circumstances. They have their own relationship baggage to overcome before they can get to their happy ending, but it’s all the sweeter for the work they put in to make sure that this time they’ve got the right partner.
Ella is the mother of two young girls, a daughter to a wealthy society couple, and single after the demise of her marriage two years earlier. Her mother had warned her about what might happen if she married someone from a different social and financial strata, but Ella had been convinced that true love would conquer all. Unfortunately, her ex-husband was unfaithful and made her wary of getting involved with someone again.
When Ella returns home from a holiday, she enters her penthouse suite in the middle of a robbery. Left tied up and somewhat bruised (though it could have been much worse if one of the perpetrators had gotten his way), she’s discovered by her housekeeper who calls the police immediately. Detective Tyrone Evers is the police officer assigned to the case. With Ella’s mother Sylvie being a friend of the Mayor, the pressure is on to solve the case. Tyrone and Ella have an immediate connection, an attraction they know they shouldn’t act upon while the case is being worked. But they both admit they would like to see each other in a social setting.
Ella spent her married life trying to please her husband by stifling her own desires, but she’s learned from her mistakes and won’t settle for someone who doesn’t treat her with respect. Tyrone’s marriage didn’t survive his long hours of work and dedication to his job, and his wife cheated on him with his best friend. They are both ready for a ‘do over’. Have they found the one worth risking their hearts for a second time?
Move over billionaire heroes, there’s a heroine ready to take your place! Ella is a wonderfully balanced character, a woman for whom the trappings of wealth are taken in stride (she has a nanny and a housekeeper, a chauffeured limo and a cook) but never in an arrogant or expectant fashion. She’d given up her job with her mother’s fashion company to make her ex-husband happy (so much for that) and is ready to be back at work full-time as well as pursuing her charitable interests. She loves being a full-time mom for her two daughters and while she is the custodial parent, the girls have plenty of visits with their father, a man she never badmouths in front of them. He might have been a lousy husband, but he’s a good father and she does nothing to impede their father/daughter relationships. I always appreciate romances where parents who’ve split up (for non-violent reasons) can get along as amicably as possible for the sake their children.
Ella is understandably shaken by the break-in at her home. She has trouble sleeping at first, and while Tyrone is working on her case professionally, he also has a personal interest. He keeps in touch with her by phone to update her on the case (and find out how she’s feeling) and encourages her to see a therapist to help get over the trauma of the event. Ella’s mother wants all her children to have extra protection until the case is solved and enlists the help of an agency recommended by her cousin, one that isn’t as constrained by the law. As the case gets closer to being solved, Tyrone finds reasons to spend time with Ella. Though I wouldn’t classify this as a romantic suspense story, the case is interesting and shows Tyrone’s work environment and dedication to his job.
When Tyrone isn’t working he’s volunteering with underprivileged kids, aiming to keep them off the streets and out of his precinct. He hasn’t dated in a while, and definitely has never gone out with someone of Ella’s status. He’s not ashamed of his upbringing or his somewhat meager apartment, though he does worry about being able to treat Ella to the luxury she is accustomed to. Here, his father has some very sage advice. He tells Tyrone that attention and respect will go a lot farther than money. I love that Tyrone has a comfortable relationship with his parents where he can share things with them and ask for advice and that his parents are examples of love and commitment that he can aspire to have in his own relationship.
Similarly, Ella has a great relationship with her parents (soon to be remarried after a long time separation) and her siblings. While her mother may be concerned that Ella is once again having feelings for a man not used to their wealth, she can also see that Tyrone is a kind and decent man who won’t use Ella’s wealth against her, or to his own advantage.
Ella and Tyrone have a sexual attraction to each other right from the start and it leads to some steamy love scenes between them. Though there is mention of a condom the first time they make love, it seems to disappear in future scenes leaving the reader not quite sure if protection is being used. But no worries, there is no secret baby plot on the side. Having had a less than stellar sex life with her husband, Ella feels free to express herself with Tyrone and he appreciates her willingness to try new things in the bedroom. Their sex life is definitely very satisfying, and a key component to the feelings they are developing for each other. Tyrone is wonderful with Ella’s daughters who are quite happy to accept a new man in their mom’s life and it’s not long before they both start thinking of the future.
But right when things seem to be going along so well, they remember what caused their first marriages to break up and have to deal with the insecurities remaining from those difficult times. With a little family advice, some soul searching, and the realization that they both have to admit mistakes in order to move forward, they get their happy ending. Do Over is a sexy second chance at love romance with characters who are definitely worth getting to know. I look forward to learning more about the Brooks family!
Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo