Desert Isle Keeper
To the Ends of the Earth
I have to say it – a few pages in to this book, and I became obsessed with it. If I put it down, I was edgy until I could pick it up again. When I had to go to bed, I dreamed about it. When I had to go to work, I seriously considered calling in sick just so I could finish it. I don’t recollect any book grabbing hold of me like this one and not letting me go until it was ready. Has that ever happened to you? I can’t explain it; I truly can not. While I slobber and babble and try to come up with some cogent explanation for my behavior, let me tell you what the story’s about.
Catherine Cochran is a pretty woman who was born rich, and married Even-Richer Billy. But through her hideous marriage, then her father’s death, Cat has lost everything and now supports a spend-thrift mother, and two siblings who are about to graduate from medical school. Cat is a brilliant photographer running her own business, and running herself into the ground with overwork. When her agent and friend, Rod Harrington, calls on her to do a book on T.H. Danvers – super-rich designer of magnificent sailboats – Cat wants to decline, but she needs the money, so accepts the assignment.
Travis Danvers is one good-looking, well-muscled, world-class, grade A number one, diamond-plated SOB – even his sailing crew is afraid of his ill-temper and moody behavior. Rod Harrington is Travis’ best friend, so he decides to give the book idea a shot. As a matter of coincidence, Travis is staying at his cousin’s house, only a few doors down from Cat’s in Laguna Beach. Before they are formally introduced, they meet when Travis saves Cat’s valuable camera equipment from a serious dunking in the surf. From the moment they meet, gazes lock, sparks fly, bodies burn, air sizzles, and nuclear war just about breaks out. Cat’s an oldest; Travis an only – each has always been in charge; neither is willing to give over control to the other. After Travis’ wretched experience years earlier with a money-grubbing wife, he has sworn only to marry a woman richer than he is – he’ll enjoy a woman’s company, and body, but only for a pre-agreed-upon price.
Cat hates rich boys, and with heart-breakingly good reason, so when Travis seduces Cat in an incredibly sensuous love scene (they are all incredibly sensuous), Cat falls hard thinking she might have met the exception to her rule. But Travis keeps asking Cat how much she wants for her services. He simply cannot understand that Cat wants him only for himself. Chalk it up to Ms. Lowell’s enviable writing skills and thorough character development that I was able to care about what happened to Travis, jerk that he was, even while I wanted to thonk him on the head with my iron skillet: Hello! Travis! Anybody in there???
Cat works like a dog (I got tired just reading about her day), is militantly self-sufficient, and refuses on principle to take a dime from anybody. Once Cat and Travis meet, the story stays with them, never veering off into side issues except to explain how they fit into the characters’ personalities or motivations. True, Travis is an over-the-top ass, but he is very well characterized, he truly loves Cat, wants to be with her every second, wants her to sail away with him to the ends of the Earth, feels deep admiration and respect for her, and when he realizes what he’s done and the ramifications of his treatment of her, his self-contempt and emotionally-charged redemption are heart-wrenching. Theirs is a hard relationship to see unfold, the anguish each character feels is realistic and painful – but when these two finally hit their happily-ever-after, it’s well-earned, poignant, richly drawn, and emotionally satisfying. These two people are completely connected to each other and is probably one of the reasons the story affected me so much.
One thing that should have happened, but didn’t: Blood-thirsty as I am, I really wanted a madder-than-hell Travis to cross paths with Billy, and pound his face into so much hamburger for what he had done to Cat. The little twerp deserved it, and I really wanted to be there when it happened!
This is one well-written, sensuous, character-driven, and compelling read. Don’t miss it.