Desert Isle Keeper
Lola Carlyle Reveals All
I know as I write this review that it’s not going to find universal agreement, and some of you may even feel that I’ve lost my mind for granting the latest Rachel Gibson release DIK status. Nevertheless, Lola Carlyle Reveals All is exactly the kind of book I like, a somewhat suspenseful contemporary with a very alpha hero, and a capable and intelligent heroine, and more than a few laughs – and sparks – between them.
Lola Carlyle is a former-supermodel-turned-lingerie-mogul, taking a much-needed vacation in the Bahamas with her mini Pinscher, Baby Doll. When she wakes up in a friend’s boat which has just been “commandeered” by a scary-looking man who claims to work for the US government, she’s more than a bit worried. But even more alarming is the way her pulse reacts to that scary-looking man – who cleans up very nicely, it turns out. Now she has to survive both her kidnapping and her kidnapper. And the latter may be much more dangerous.
Max Zamora has been beat up, tortured, and shot at in the last couple of hours and all of his best-laid plans have gone wrong. Now he finds himself stranded in the seemingly-deserted boat he’d commandeered in his escape from the crime boss whose son he had been forced to kill – except that the boat isn’t so deserted after all. Instead, he’s stuck with a pain-in-the-butt underwear model and her useless miniature mutt, on a boat that’s going nowhere fast, in the middle of the Atlantic. Now he’s got to try to get them rescued, before they find themselves captured by the vengeful Cosella cartel – or before they find themselves in bed together, and caught up in a relationship that neither one of them is prepared for.
In the first few pages – the first couple of chapters, even – I didn’t think I was going to like Max. The way he’s drawn early on is not a flattering portrait. But when his actions started belying his words and descriptions, he won me over, and fast. He’s a total alpha male, with a crude mouth and rough sensibilities. These are qualities that are certain to turn some readers off, but strip those protective layers away, and he’s prime hero material: vulnerable, intelligent and caring, usually in spite of himself. He didn’t “have me at hello,” but by the end, well, he had me – but good.
Lola is an interesting character. It’s true that she plays the semi-helpless woman saved by the big, strong man, at least at first, but this is a courageous woman who has faced more subtle dangers within herself, including the fight to save herself from bulimia and the emotional sinkhole it entails. Now she faces down more external dangers with the same bravery and determination. She is a perfect match for Max’s blunt edges, although I would have liked to see more of her consciously surrendering control (her biggest hurdle, closely tied to her bulimic history) to Max when she needs to do so. Both of these characters are extremely interesting, and it would have been nice to see a little more of them, and their struggles to find and accept what they really want and need in life. But wanting more is a small quibble in such a fun, funny, hot and emotional novel.
This is a difficult review to write, since I know many people will see this book in a very different light. But for my money, this is exactly what I’m looking for: strong characters, funny dialogue, and enough sparks to consume the pages they inhabit. For fans of the true alpha male, this one is a must-read.