Runaway Bay is a fun romance. The characters are interesting and amusing, and the vacation resort plot and setting provides a kind of vicarious escape, particularly for those of us unfortunately stuck in places like Michigan at the tail end of a long, gray winter.
Dr. Jackie Barnett is a research pharmacologist. She has applied for the Phelps Grant for her lab and is hoping that the money won’t bypass her and go straight to her biggest rival, Reade Hunter. While she is waiting to find out, she’s planning to go on a well-deserved vacation. But at the last minute her boyfriend tells her he can’t go and, by the way, he’s no longer interested in her. She’s planning to cancel the trip when she hears that Farley Phelps will be staying in the same resort. Ah, well, she decides. If she can’t have Fun in the Sun, maybe she can have Cash in Hand. If she can just get Farley Phelps alone for a while, she’s sure to get that grant.
There’s only one snag. Reade Hunter discovers her plan and, at the last minute, drags his mother along for a little impromptu relaxation. His strategy is twofold: keep Jackie away from Phelps and give his mother a chance to meet someone new. His father has been dead for six years and in the interim his mother has developed some hypochondriac tendencies that Reade would like to break her of. He figures that it will be easy to manipulate Jackie, at least. He’s seen her picture and she’s a dud. Phelps could hardly be charmed by her. But when he runs into her in person, he’s shocked to find that she’s actually very attractive. So attractive in fact that perhaps his goal should be to keep Jackie away from himself.
This book was quite interesting. It had a different setting – St. Sebastian – and the characters did all kinds of fun-sounding, athletic type things. Both Reade and Jackie were well fleshed out and somewhat complex. It took me a little while to warm up to them, but once I did, I really liked them. They bantered well, and the sexual tension was high throughout. And, contrary to all recent reading trends, this book actually got better as it went along. There was actual character growth, and somewhere around the two-thirds mark the plot takes a bit of an unexpected turn.
For those readers who like adventure romances, heads up please. The book is not one big jungle trek, but there is an element of adventure and suspense to spice things up. The book has a hint, just a touch of Romancing the Stone to it.
The one real drawback to Runaway Bay has is that the characters decide to commit to each other on the basis of a relatively short acquaintance. Reade and Jackie have known of each other for years, of course, but they only spend a little over a week together – and most of arguing – before they fall in love. Also, Farley Phelps isn’t particularly likable. He’s a fairly complex character and perhaps not meant to be likable, but he is part of a secondary romance, and as a result, the secondary romance never fully worked for me.
And then the ending was somewhat different than what I personally would consider a happy ending. You know how sometimes you read a story about a woman who’s always wanted to be a mother, and, at the end of it, she’s pregnant with triplets? Everyone in the story is ecstatic, but you as a reader wind up thinking, “Triplets? Oh, my goodness…”? Well, Jackie doesn’t end up pregnant with triplets, but her happy ending certainly wouldn’t be my happy ending. It’s in character, though, and I suppose that’s the main thing.
Runaway Bay was good, escapist fiction, well written and fun. I would love to be Jackie just now, sitting on the beach in St. Sebastian with my toes buried in the warm sand. And if I were there, I sure wouldn’t mind having another Lisa Hendrix book to read. This one was most amusing, and I hear her other books are just as good.