James’ debut romance offers a story of heartbreak and new beginnings.
Annabella “Gitana” Sothers lives on a houseboat in Sausalito, Calif., following a soul-crushing divorce from her husband, John, a successful doctor. Her inability to become pregnant left her feeling bereft, barren and abandoned—especially after John left her for his pregnant mistress. She lost everything in the divorce, and wonders if she’ll ever feel whole again. Just as all seems hopeless, she meets the hunky Cade DeVerine, an artist and gallery owner, who’s immediately taken by Gitana’s beauty. He adamantly doesn’t want a family, which takes some of the pressure off—although Gitana’s desire to eventually have a child hasn’t changed. As Gitana falls in love again, and delves into a promising new career as a painter, she feels blessed. However, it’s not long before her happiness is threatened, as she learns that her ex-husband has been keeping a dark secret—one that shocks her to the core. As James explores this story, she demonstrates a proficiency with character development; Gitana and Cade, in particular, are realistic and relatable, despite the somewhat contrived and awkward circumstances of their first two meetings. James ably provides each character with a distinct personality and role in the plot, and the strong secondary characters make ample contributions. Cade’s flamboyant assistant, Rex, for example, is fun without feeling over-the-top or stereotypical, and the author’s decision to pair him up with Gitana’s muscle-bound and incredibly chivalrous neighbor, Layne, makes for an intriguing, refreshing dynamic. However, Rex and Gitana’s silly nicknames for each other (“Wild Child” and “Devil Man”) seem a bit excessive, and they may quickly become grating for some readers. Although the story’s pace occasionally slows, James quickly picks ups the slack, adding just the right amount of complication and conflict to keep things fresh and engaging.
A well-paced, entertaining romance.