Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Reef by Nora Roberts *****

How does she do it? Where do all these stories come from? I'm not sure I could ever catch up with reading everything by Nora Roberts!

Ok - I don't always love them, but I don't think I've disliked one yet. However, I did love this one!

The Reef is a contemporary story - our heroine Tate starts out a 19-year-old college student, spending her summer vacation with her parents looking for buried treasure in the sea. Her father started diving as a hobby and got hooked, and she naturally got hooked with him. Her major is marine archeology, and she plans to one day have a museum of all the wonderful treasure she and dad uncover.

The hero Matthew starts the book a little earlier, at age 16, when he, his dad and his Uncle Buck (yep) are diving professionally with the villain, Silas VanDyke. It's no secret he's the villain, especially after he kills Matthew's dad but manages to make it look like a tragic diving accident.

The other character in the book is Angelique and her curse on a necklace in the 16th century. After Angelique is burned at the stake, the necklace moves from person to person, each of whom meets an untimely death. In the 18th century, the last person to have it goes missing under the sea and takes it with him - but who, and where, is part of the mystery.

Matthew and Buck meet up with Tate and the parents in the waters of the Caribbean. The parents and Uncle Buck get along so well, they decide to join forces as partners even though Matthew, age 25 now, and Tate at age 19 seem to do nothing but fight. Oh of course, that's code for foreplay - and eventually they get to turn the tension to something a little more romantic. They discover an 18th c. shipwreck and untold treasure, and are all waiting with baited breath to find the necklace. Unfortunately, there's an accident and some piracy - involving VanDyke - and the 2 split up, left with nothing from the relationship or the shipwreck.

Tate goes on to finish her degree, get a Master's and work in the field; Matthew has to support Buck and does whatever it takes. Then, 8 years after they first met, Tate's father makes a discovery that puts them back on track to find Angelique's Curse. Too bad VanDyke has been keeping tabs on them all, all along...

It was suspenseful to the point that I almost skimmed to get away from the evil villain, even knowing I would miss a clue if I didn't pay attention. NR managed to make me feel what the characters were feeling - the love between Tate's parents, the protectiveness of Buck towards Matthew, the love that develops between Tate and Matthew and the forces, mostly pride, that kept them apart. And the evilness of VanDyke - ick!! EEEssh. There was even a touch of paranormal - the necklace calling to Tate, and making her dream about it - but just a teensy, credible touch. All wrapped up in a wonderful story that really did have me turning the pages and rushing ahead trying to figure out how it would all play out. There wasn't any hiding who the bad guy was, but what would he do? Would they find the necklace?

I'm not gonna spoil it and tell you whether or not the necklace was ever found, but it is a romance, so I can tell you Matthew and Tate find their HEA in the blue blue Caribbean sea, which was very satisfying. Loved it! 5 stars.

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