by Elizabeth Lowell

June 2000
ISBN: 0-380-78988-4
Reviewer Graphic Button Avon Books
Mass Market Paperback

Pacific cyclones can wreak havoc when they hit land, and the one that savaged a small pearl farm in northern Australia was no exception. Amidst the debris of palm trees and outbuildings, they found Len McGarry - face down in the now-gentle surf!

Archer Donovan was half a world away from Pearl Cove, yet in spite of the distance in miles and the seven years since he'd seen Len, Archer wasn't surprised to hear Hannah McGarry's voice on the phone one dark morning. What did surprise him was her carefully worded request for help - Hannah was in trouble, and Archer could no more stop himself from going to her than he could stop the sun from rising! Being a silent partner in Pearl Cove provided all the excuse Archer needed to get on the plane to Australia - deep inside he knew that Hannah had been the one woman he'd never forgotten but that was a thought best kept buried.

For those readers who have met the Donovans before, (Amber Beach, Jade Island), Archer Donovan will be a welcome focus for this novel. If you've missed this dynamic family, hold onto your hat, because Elizabeth Lowell has created a group of brothers that personify everything we could ever want in a romantic hero! Kyle Donovan may have been a living doll, but Archer is definitely the core of this family. He is the oldest, probably the harshest in his outlook, and has experienced a lot - some of it really bad stuff - which has left him with an edge to his behavior and his thinking. Archer trusts no one (except family of course), and refuses to allow himself the vulnerability of loving someone. Sex is fine, thanks, but no emotions permitted. (And wow, the sex is really, really fine!!)

So it is a bit of a surprise to find that Hannah McGarry holds a special place in Archer's heart. Their history together is fascinating, and revealing too much would spoil this wonderful book. Suffice it to say that Archer and Hannah end up surrounded by danger and intrigue in the best Donovan style, and that they both have a long way to travel down an assortment of paths before they can really accept what the other has to offer. Once again, Ms. Lowell has dappled her pages with exquisite detail - I know more about pearls just from reading this one book than I thought was possible. The depth and the layers that are involved in this story hold the reader spellbound, and Archer's uncompromising strength is perfectly matched by Hannah's tough determination. Very much an alpha male, Archer is still vulnerable to Hannah, and he hates it - Hannah on the other hand, has some miserable baggage to leave behind - neither realize that sometimes it's painful to rid oneself of old scars.

For lovers of sizzling and passionate contemporary romances, it doesn't get much better than this; each Donovan novel is a stand-alone title, but don't deny yourself the pleasure of reading the first two books, and also the story of Faith Donovan - Midnight in Ruby Bayou. They're all keepers!!

Reviewed in February 2002 by Celia.

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