Desert Isle Keeper
For Christmas, Forever
Ruth Wind can wring more emotion out of a book, even one with an action plot, than most authors I’ve read. She does it again in her latest book, For Christmas, Forever, with great success.
The novel opens with intelligence agent Zane Hunter seeing his friends blown up by a car bomb, leaving him badly injured by the blast. After he leaves the hospital, Zane goes to Claire Franklin’s Bed & Breakfast to hide out, recover and find the Ghost – the person who killed his friends, and who, unknown to Zane, is still after him. When the Ghost tracks Zane down at Claire’s place, Zane and Claire are forced to flee. Claire shows herself to be tough and calm in a crisis. She has to go with Zane because the cast on his leg prevents him from driving, but she doesn’t freak out and lose control. Zane begins to admire her and becomes more and more attracted to her.
The book takes place during the Christmas season, a holiday that holds no good memories for Claire. Claire had grown up as the out-of-wedlock daughter of a promiscuous and foot-loose mother. She spent her formative years yearning for stability and found it in her B&B business. She had decided to try to celebrate Christmas this year, mainly for her guests, but also to see if she could find the Christmas spirit she had not had in her childhood. Now Claire’s Christmas tree is full of bullets and she is on the run with a stranger who has awakened instincts and desires that she had long ago decided had no place in her life.
Both of these characters are emotionally troubled. Claire’s issues stem from her mother’s neglect and Zane’s stem from his job as an agent, a job in which he has had to kill. Both open up to each other and trust each other despite how hard it is for them to trust anyone. Both are lonely and as they come together, you can see the changes that take place and how well they complement each other.
There’s more action in this book than is usual in a Ruth Wind novel. It’s not a lot of action but it’s enough to drive the plot. There aren’t a lot of secondary characters, either. I think that’s part of what makes the romance between Zane and Claire so intense – they are the entire focus, no one else distracts readers from their story.
I have only one minor quibble, and that is with the Ghost. First, the name. Why do assassins always have to have nicknames like the Ghost or the Jackal? And if the Ghost was truly ghost-like, why call Claire to find out if Zane was at her B&B and and blow cover? Anyway, this is only a very minor beef.
For Christmas, Forever was an emotional story that tugged at my heart. Both Zane and Claire were so likable and so wounded, I really rooted for them to get their happy ending. The Christmas setting was just perfect for the story, and the epilogue will make you smile through your tears. This is not one to miss.