Desert Isle Keeper
I recently downloaded this 2005 release to my Kindle. Why? My original paperback is falling apart from countless readings. Yes, this book is a DIK for me and a buried treasure since I’ve seen virtually no buzz about it online.
Sam Frazier and his four-year old son are heading to town when a camper swerves off the road in front of them. Carly Stewart and her father Lane are traveling across country when her sudden maneuver to avoid a squirrel results in a change in their travel plans.
Sam and Lane bond while checking out the damage to the camper and Carly tries to resist checking out Sam. No one is happy to discover that it will take a week to get a replacement part. Sam knows there are no hotels in this rural Oklahoma town and reluctantly offers to let the two stay on his family’s farm. Just as reluctantly, Carly and her father accept Sam’s offer. Okay, I’ll admit I can’t imagine making or accepting such an offer. I don’t let strangers into my home, let alone invite them to stay for a week. But thanks to the author’s skill in quickly revealing Sam, Lane, and Carly’s characters, the setup worked for me.
Over the next week Carly and Sam try to resist each other. Neither welcomes the sexual “ping” they feel. They’re completely wrong for each other. Carly has casual relationships; Sam doesn’t want anyone. His wife – and childhood sweetheart – died three years earlier leaving him with five young sons and a daughter.
Over the course of the week, Lane falls in love with the rural setting and decides to relocate. Carly questions her father’s decision, but helps him move and settle in.
I loved this story of opposites attracting, and adored both Sam and Carly. Sam is an honorable man, but he’s not perfect. He struggles to maintain order, and he’s being tested by his 14-year old daughter Libby. She wants to wear clothes and makeup Sam considers inappropriate, and date a boy bursting with hormones.
Carly was one of the first modern-feeling heroines I encountered in series romance. She’s 37, has multiple piercings in her ear, is flat-chested, and has a tattoo above her hip that’s displayed prominently by her midriff-baring clothes. Forced to quit her position as a ballet dancer due to injury, she’s trying to figure out what to do with her life. Carly isn’t comfortable with kids, has never wanted any of her own. She can’t figure out why she’s attracted to Sam. Not only does he have six kids, Carly thinks he runs his home like a military institution.
If you don’t like books with children this isn’t for you, as Libby has a major role; some parts of the story are told from her POV. However, with the exception of Libby, the rest of the children don’t play much of a role except to set the stage for Sam’s situation.
While this is part of the author’s Men of Mayes County series it works as a standalone. However, several characters from previous entries make appearances, and there’s a secondary romance between Lane and someone from earlier books.
While the setup may seem outlandish, the problems the characters face feel very real. These are ordinary people trying to make their way in the world. I have no idea how many times I’ve read this book, but know I will read it again, and it is one I heartily recommend.