|Julie Ortolon: Don't Tempt Me|
St. Martin's (Paperback), ISBN 0-312-98349-2
Jackie Taylor spends most of her life trying to hide from her past. She spent much of her youth on a ship in the Caribbean with her treasure hunting father, who let the lure of money and riches corrupt him into bilking investors to support his treasure hunts. After his death, murdered by a scammed investor, Jackie inherits the Pirate's Pleasure, a rickety ship, which she painstakingly restores and turns into her business. She takes on short charter cruises, some up the coast to Pearl Island where her guests debark for a meal at the bed and breakfast there.
Adrian St. Claire, the chef and co-owner (with his two younger sisters) of the bed and breakfast, never needs to look far for a willing woman. Most women throw themselves at his feet, though he doesn't quite realize the effect he produces on females. But Jackie, although attracted to him, makes a perfect foil to him. They banter back and forth, despite Jackie's reluctance to enter into a business agreement with the bed and breakfast.
Eventually she agrees because the partnership offers her the opportunity to learn more about an ancestor, Jack Kingsley. Years ago, Jack loved the St. Claires' ancestor, Marguerite -- unattainable and married to an abusive overbearing man. They met in secret but Marguerite's husband eventually found out and killed Jack.
Jackie knows all of the legends surrounding the couple but doesn't know much of the truth. The St. Claires believe the dead couple haunt their bed and breakfast and want to give them peace by finding a necklace given to Jack from Marguerite. In exchange for providing historical evidence that the necklace lies buried near the bed and breakfast, the St. Claires allow Jackie to read Marguerite's diaries to learn more about her ancestor. During the treasure hunt, the friendship between Adrian and Jackie unexpectedly heats up, but her past comes back to haunt her, especially when combined with Adrian's possible new career.
Julie Ortolon writes a wonderful blend of sassy repartee and sweet love. Cocky and confident Adrian makes a nice contrast to neurotic Jackie. Ortolon fills the story with complex and well-developed secondary characters plus a nice dose of history and piratic culture. An excellent book.
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