Pearl Cove, by Elizabeth Lowell

>> Monday, November 15, 2004

Pearl Covewas the book I wanted to get to when I started to read Elizabeth Lowell's Donovan series. Book # 1, Amber Beach, didn't give me all that much enthusiasm to continue, but after the second one, Jade Island, which was really good, I was dying to read Pearl Cove.

Surrounded by potential enemies, Hannah McGarry faces the mystery of her husband's suspicious death, the prospect of bankruptcy...and the disappearance of the fabulous Black Trinity necklace that was to be her financial security. Desperate, she calls Archer Donovan, a silent partner in Pear Cove, her late husband's pearl farm venture. He might help her...if the price is right.

Archer Donovan would rather forget he'd ever heard of Pearl Cove...its memories of living on the dark side, the soul-numbing certainty that there was no law, no justice, no mercy; just hunters and the hunted. That life taught him to trust no one but family. But when Hannah McGarry calls in an old debt Archer is back in the game. And at his side in pursuit of the stolen fortune is a woman he shouldn't want, yet cannot resist...a woman who may know more than she's telling about her husband's death...and more than is safe to know about the dark and elusive black pearls. With deadly competitors on their tails, Archer and Hannah race through uncharted waters in search of the fabulous Black Trinity. And the closer they come to finding the coveted pearls, the closer they come to danger and death...and to each other.
While this one wasn't as engrossing as Jade Island, it did improve on the areas that kept that one from being an A read. So, I'll give both of them the same grade, a B+.

There was a lot of focus on the romance here. The suspense subplot was important, of course, but I got the feeling the main purpose of it was getting Hannah and Archer together. And they did spend quite a bit of time together :-)

I liked the way the romance was developed. Maybe I'm a little twisted, but I actually really enjoyed all that about how Archer had been so crazy about Hannah all those years she was married to his half-brother. And there was more than enough angst in this romance, with Hannah being so afraid of the darkness in Archer, afraid that he was too much like her late husband, while Archer was madly in love with her and wanted to demonstrate he couldn't be more different.

When I said above that Pearl Cove improved in certain areas over Jade Island, I was talking about the "pay-off" of the romance. In both of the previous books, while the romance was developed well, with a lot of sexual tension, Lowell seemingly lost interest in it in the end and tried to just wrap it up as quickly as possible, which was why the final stages of the romance felt perfunctory. Not in this one, not at all. Much, much better.

I also enjoyed the family dynamics. Archer and Hannah spend lots of time in the Donovan family condo, and we get to know the family better, which was fun.

The information about pearls was fascinating, as in the previous books in the series. Lowell really gives an interesting glimpse into that world, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Of course, given the amount of space devoted to it, if I hadn't been interested in the subject in the first place, it could have felt too heavy-handed. Luckily, this was not the case.

This was excellent romantic suspense, just the type I like.


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