Cherish D'Angelo,
Lancelot's Lady
(Imajin, 2010)

Rhianna McLeod is a palliative nurse who's traveled from Maine to Florida on the promise of a job with JT Lance, a wealthy man who's suffering from an aggressive form of brain cancer. When she arrives, the butler's uncertain about the promises his employer made in the letter that got her there. They have already filled the position, he insists. However, when Rhianna sees JT Lance, he calls her "Anna," and she stays.

The Lance mansion feels like home to an abused orphaned child who's never known a real home before. One odd thing is a painting with no artist's signature titled "Lady in the Mist." The painting resembles Rhianna to a T.

Rhianna quickly becomes like a daughter to the elderly JT. She's shocked when he offers her a six-week vacation to Angelina's Isle, a resort island just northeast of Nassau in the Bahamas. She's understandably reluctant to go, considering JT's condition, but he insists, advising her that he'll be there when she returns. She leaves, vowing to have the best time she can, knowing when she returns JT will be closer to death.

The island resort is definitely not what it's billed to be by her employer. The sign on the dock says "No Trespassing" and, while the host looks like a man Rhianna has dreamt about, Jonathan is anything but welcoming. Worse, the place truly is remote. In order for Rhianna to get there, the boat carrying her had to leave behind the parts to fix the island's radio, which is the only connection to the outside world.

So, is the place a tropical paradise or a trap?

Then there's Misty, Jonathan's hearing-impaired child, a beautiful little girl whose mother abandoned her. The girl immediately takes to Rhianna, and Rhianna agrees to spend her vacation teaching Misty ASL. She learns Misty's a lot brighter than everyone thinks and has even taught herself to read lips. Rhianna teaches the little girl far more, to dance and love music.

Not so much the child's father. Jonathan is a secretive man who is "incredibly, irresistibly ... rude." Rhianna's is attracted to him, but her past and his attitude warn her away. The feeling's quite mutual. Jonathan's past experience with his ex-wife has inclined him to mistrust women, particularly beautiful ones.

Of course, there's got to be trouble in Paradise. This comes in the chubby form of Winston Chambers, a private eye hired by JT to find Rhianna. He knows JT's secret and he's going to tell Rhianna if JT doesn't pay up. Then he gets a more vicious plan to kidnap Rhianna and extort money from both JT and Jonathan.

Lancelot's Lady is a great beach read, even if you can't be on the beach. How someone can pull off a gothic feel in a tropical paradise, I will never know, but the author has managed to do just that. The story's strong on character and suspense. Both kept me turning pages well into the night. Add to that, a couple of twists that even a DuMaurier or Bronte would be proud of, and you've got a winner.

[ visit the author's website ]

book review by
Becky Kyle

9 October 2010

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