Desert Isle Keeper
The Runaway Heiress
Meg Tilly does such a good job of the world-building in her tales of romantic suspense that reading her books always tends to be a treat. The Runaway Heiress is a little more fun than her more slice-of-life Solace Island series – which I already liked (and to which this book is lightly tied) – because it takes a dip into the world Tilly knows well – Hollywood.
Sarah Rainsford is on the run, and worn out from it. She continuously jumps from crappy motel to crappy motel and state to state as she tries to dodge her abusive ex-husband, a police officer hungry for Sarah’s inheritance money – which she is using to fund her race from his murderous clutches. It’s been four years since she’s settled in any one place for any length of time. Her latest fake identity is ‘Rachel Jones’ and she has taken on a personal assistant job which will hopefully give her a safe place to stay and time to breathe.
Director Mick Talford seems to be all bad-boy swagger, and he’s a tough boss at first (he wanted a male assistant), but he soon develops a soft spot for his new PA, Rachel. The banter between them is immediate, and as they grow to know one another a romance begins to take shape. But Mick doesn’t know that Rachel is Sarah, and that they’re both in for a whole world of trouble if Sarah’s ex finds them…
The Runaway Heiress is genuinely suspenseful, and has an element of dread that works very well. I know a number of women who have felt powerless beneath the heels of their abusers – Sarah’s victory will feel like a revelation for them, as well as a wonderfully delicious and enjoyable bit of satisfying revenge.
Sarah is tough and doesn’t bend to Mick’s dramas – she’s relatable, likeable and easy to root for right from the first page. Mick is very alpha to start with, but Sarah is more than a match for him and brings him down to size in no time flat; the pairing has a lot of spice to it, and is sexy and yet touching. Mick is hot but he’s also funny, and very aware of the phony Hollywood façade he must put on in public, to which he pays no worship, and which mirrors Sarah and her own fake identities. They open up to one another when it seemed impossible for both of them to open up to anyone before that.
Tilly’s sharp observations of life in Hollywood, and the things people have to endure in order to make movies or TV shows, really sing. The book is permeated by a wickedly funny sense of humor that never denigrates the seriousness of the situation that Sarah has found herself in; you will believe in the danger she’s in, and you’ll worry for her. There’s a Sandra-Brown-ish note to the juicy, wry prose Tilly employs; if you remember and enjoy Brown’s romantic mysteries then you’ll enjoy anything Meg Tilly writes. The mystery has some genuine surprises, so you’ll find yourself on quite a rollercoaster.
Because of all of this and more, The Runaway Heiress is easily a DIK-level read. It’s among the best and most fun romantic suspense novels I’ve read this year.