The first book in the Donovans series, published October 1997.
New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Lowell sweeps us into another dazzling tale of high adventure and larger-than-life characters in the story of a legendary treasure that inspires consuming passion and treacherous betrayal … the fabulous lost fortune that was once the Russian Czar’s exquisite, world-renowned Amber Room.
Jewelry designer Honor Donovan was never welcomed into her father’s international gem-trading empire like her four brothers were. But when her favourite brother Kyle disappears, rumoured to have made off with a fortune in amber, Honor defies the men of the family and heads for the San Juan Islands of the Pacific Northwest in search of answers.
Jake Mallory has been doing business with Donovan International and suspects he’s been set up to take the fall for Kyle’s dirty tricks. When he and Honor meet, a journey that begins with dark suspicion and plans of vengeance turns into a dangerous voyage of temptation and betrayal. Alone at sea, they fight against growing passions and lingering distrust. But as they flee from violent enemies in pursuit of the mysteries of the Amber Room, they discover that the deepest secrets lie within themselves.
Jake Mallory worked for the Russians in selling amber to the highest bidder. He has just delivered a shipment of raw mined amber to Kyle Donovan, when Kyle disappears with the shipment, and, supposedly a stolen panel of the famous Amber Room. Jake gets the blame for everything, and is no longer welcome in Russia and its satellites. This will certainly destroy his company and everything he has worked so hard for. The only way to save his reputation, is to find Kyle and the panel of Amber. But he is not the only one looking for Kyle. His family is one, the Russian Maffia is another party, the Russian government, the American government, they are all after the famous Amber Room.
Did Kyle really set Jake up to take the fall, or was he duped as well by his hot girlfriend?
Honor Donovan’s eldest brother Archer has asked her to check Kyle’s cabin in the San Juan Islands, if he is there as it is his favourite hide-out. And once there, Honor is convinced he has been there in the past week, even though Kyle has been missing for a longer time. Why hasn’t he contacted his family? Honor hates small boats and fishing, ever since a horrible time on board a small boat when she was 13. Now she is determined to learn how to handle Kyle’s SeaSports boat. He has to be out there, somewhere. His Zodiac is missing, as is some diving gear and a GPS. Some scary types have answered her advertisement for a fishing guide, but she has turned them all away, until Jake arrives. Sure, he looks dangerous, but also capable of keeping them out of trouble. She knows the police or the FBI are watching the house and the boat, but she has to go searching for her brother, waiting any longer will drive her nuts.
Of course Jake doesn’t tell her who he is, he just needs to find Kyle, and he is convinced Honor knows where Kyle is, or Kyle will contact her. So keeping close to this beautiful innocent young woman will not be a hardship. Or is that innocence just a pose? He will teach Honor to drive the boat allright, but just enough to convince her she can never go out alone, she needs him at her side. Together they backtrace Kyle’s routes through the ship’s computer, being followed by three different boats. The coast guard, who has orders to search the Tomorrow every day, the Russian mafia, the FBI and an unkown one. Luckily the Tomorrow is better equipped to handle the rough seas of San Juan and the Puget Sound, but they can not outrun the coastguard.
Jake and Honor are growing closer, Jake is helping her to get over her fear and disgust of small boats and fishing, and they are very much attracted to each other. And even though Jake is feeling guilty for deceiving her, he cannot resist her. Unfortunately, the next morning Archer calls again, and he blows Jake’s cover. Honor is heartbroken, she wants him out of her life, but Jake refuses. She still needs him to drive the boat and he needs to clear his name.
More bad things happen, the weather gets worse, and time is closing in on them. They will have to find Kyle, if he is still alive, and fast.
This is perhaps the fifth time I have read this book. I love this series, it is still just as good, and the suspense just as exciting, even though I kind of know what will happen next, and who the bad guys are.
I love Honor, she just doesn’t give up, she wants her favourite brother back. No matter what she has to do, endure, survive, she will find him. Even when her heart is broken because of Jake’s betrayal. And Jake, his resolve softens when he gets to know Honor. His priorities shift, because of her. Now he finds to find Kyle not only to clear his name and his company, but also because of her. He doesn’t want to see her hurt, and when she ignores him, he doesn’t know what to do anymore.
A really great romantic suspense series, even though it is perhaps a little bit outdated. Elizabeth Lowell has a great way with words, she makes the characters so real and lifelike, and their emotions just grab you. I fell for this couple, hook line and sinker. There is also a lot of snark and bantering, both Honor and Jake are not shy with words, they tease each other a lot.
Of course, the background information about the Amber Room, the history of amber, and the many different kinds of amber, are great to get you more involved in the background of it all, and the different parties who are after the missing panel.
There are three more books in this series, and I am planning on re-reading them all soon. I have been hoping for years now that Elizabeth Lowell will write the books for the other siblings as well.
Smexy, if you are reading this: Jake has a mustache and a beard, and a hairy chest ;).