Setting: Caribbean and Pacific waters, present day
Tate Beaumont is suspicious when two divers disturb her discovery of an underwater wreck off Nevis and St. Kitts. When her diving partner and wealthy father, Ray, learns that the intruders are renowned treasure hunters Buck and Matthew Lassiter, he welcomes their assistance in recovering the wreck and quickly forms a partnership with them.
Tate’s objections are overruled, and she is paired with the younger of the two men, Matthew, on subsequent dives, while her father dives with Buck. Tate and Matthew develop a mutual respect and attraction that complicates matters considerably as the team pursues Angelique’s Curse, a powerful but cursed jeweled necklace reputed to have gone down on a vessel hundreds of years ago in that area.
The necklace has also become the obsession of Angelique’s distant descendent, Silas VanDyke. Demented and power-hungry billionaire VanDyke has ruthlessly haunted the Lassiters, killing Matthew’s father in the process, in the hopes that the family of divers will lead him to the necklace.
The Beaumonts’ involvement with the Lassiters sucks Tate and Matthew into a whirlpool of passion, suspense, and deadly danger.
Those who would love to spend time in the Caribbean islands living aboard a yacht and diving for buried treasure amid schools of vibrant tropical fish will find themselves immersed in sheer pleasure while reading The Reef. The opulent setting is meticulously detailed, and readers will learn much about diving, underwater life and salvage operations.
The relationship between Tate and Matthew develops naturally and believably, although Tate proves to be quite a hardhead when events shatter her trust in Matthew. Matthews motives are admirable and they will easily encourage readers to champion his cause. Readers will be heavily invested in seeing these two survive the many perils that confront them over the course of the story. Realistic dialogue spiced with humor pulls the reader from page to page.
The Machiavellian villain is easy to hate. Scenes told from his point of view allow the reader inside his warped mind for frequent peeks at the dastardly plans he has in store for the protagonists. While some may feel he is painted as all black, others will find this just adds to the fun and the somewhat melodramatic suspense. He is nasty, but this does not result in graphic, sharp-edged terror. The drama is more focused on relationship issues, such as, “If this happens, will this beloved person die? Can I go on without him/her?”
Action can at times be quite gripping, leaving the reader breathlessly flipping through the pages. An occasional touch of the supernatural also invites readers to broaden their intellectual horizons.
For lovers of romantic suspense, The Reef has it all. In it, author Nora Roberts again demonstrates her gift for crafting a superb story peopled by characters that readers will thoroughly enjoy and care about deeply. Readers are encouraged to take the plunge and secure this treasure in hardcover. It is well worth every gold doubloon.
ISBN 0-399-14441-2, 448 pp., $23.95 (hardcover), Fiction, Putnam, October 1998
–Kristi Lyn Glass, Publisher, Gothic Journal
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