I received a copy of Temptation Bay, by Anna Sullivan via NetGalley for an honest review. This is the first story in a series about a fictional island off the coast of Maine called Windfall Island. We open the book with the hero and heroine flying in a helicopter to the island. The pilot? Maggie Solomon, our heroine. That right there should tell you Maggie isn't going to be your typical romance heroine. Her passenger is Dexter Keegan, as supposed lawyer, but we learn later that he's a PI. The cloak and dagger surrounding his true profession relates to the reason he's going to the island, which is to solve the mystery of a suspected kidnapping. A baby was taken from her wealthy parents, presumably by the nanny, about 100 years ago. The trail leads to Windfall Island, a place full of mystery and a bunch of Mainers who are both suspicious of outsiders and hesitant to give away any information.
Dex wants to find any living descendants of this baby for his own reasons, in part to make a name for himself and in part because he likes the idea of changing people's lives by solving these kinds of cases. Life on this island is hard, and Dex can see straight away that the descendant of this baby would greatly benefit from creating financial ties with the wealthy Stanhope family. Problem is, someone doesn't want that person to be found. We're never given the why of that fact, just informed that it's the case. The mystery continues into the next book in the series, Hideaway Cove.
Maggie isn't technically an islander, since she wasn't born there. But she's a transplant with family ties - her mother was an islander and her mother's family still lives there. She's made a name for herself by building her own little airport and charter company from the ground up, and everyone loves and respects her. Well, almost everyone. It's evident from the get-go that Maggie is a no nonsense kind of girl. She grew up with a military father, a man who is now an Admiral in the Navy and is poised to join the Joint Chief's of Staff. He's not very happy with Maggie because she always refuses to play his games. Yes, she has some big daddy issues. As such, she's very, very protective of her adopted home and the friends who have become family (as well as the family she adores).
Maggie and Dex ruffle each other's feathers from the moment they meet. Between stepping on the other person's last nerve and the sexual attraction they keep trying to ignore, they're like an explosion waiting to happen. And then it does. They're forced to work together on Dex's case and sparks quickly ignite into an inferno. Thinking one time will get it out of their system, they go for it. Only to find that once is just not enough.
But it can't be straightforward, because what good story ever is? Maggie's life is on Windfall and she can't envision Dex wanting to stay. And Dex thinks that Maggie will never let herself fall for him because of her issues with her father, so he's trying not to be the stupid one who gets their heart broken. Their story gets resolved by the end, but Dex's case does not. That leads into Hideaway Cove, which will tell the story of Maggie's best friend, Jessi Randall and Holden Abbot, the genealogist Dex hired to help him solve the mystery. I could see the sparks between those two as soon as Hold showed his pretty, southern gentleman face at Solomon Charters.
Overall, an enjoyable read. I'm
not typically attracted to mysteries, but this one was interesting and
it helped support the romance enough that I could like it anyway. I wish I'd been able to prioritize it, but since this wasn't a paid review, well, it didn't get its due until later. But it was worth the read once I started, and I can't wait to read about Hold and Jessi and see if the mystery of Eugenia Stanhope is resolved in that story or if it continues. I'm hoping there will be more than just two books in the series, regardless. I think once you introduce one outsider to an island community, you make it possible for there to be others. If it was me, I'd bring along Alec, Dex's friend and the Stanhope family's lawyer, for the next book so that he can get his own story in the third one. Guess we'll have to wait and see.
One last note: for a woman who is from Michigan and who lives there, I think the author did a pretty decent job of portraying Maine. From someone who has lived here a majority of her life, that's a big compliment. I tend to dislike stories set in my state that make me feel like I'm not really here. Kudos, Anna Sullivan. I look forward to reading more of your work.