The sixth in Ray’s Invincible Women Series (And Mistress Makes Three, 2009, etc.) stars a wealthy, widowed restaurateur with a past and a cop who specializes in defusing hostage situations.
Since her husband Martin passed away three years ago, Nathalyia has turned their Cajun restaurant Fontaine into one of the hottest watering holes in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Rich, gorgeous Nathalyia is impervious to men, until studly but upstanding cop Rafael walks into her bar and orders iced tea. Their chemistry is instantaneous, but genre conventions require that they circle each other and exchange smoldering glances for at least 130 pages before the obligatory sex scene. Luckily, other characters are willing to entertain us while we wait. Clarice, head waitress at Fontaine’s, disguises her low self-esteem (she’s worried about her weight) with smart-mouthed jabs at bartender Jake, an Iraq War veteran. Buff, bald Jake is a tough guy with a soft spot for Clarice he can’t let her see. Fiercely loyal to Nathalyia, he’s waiting for Rafael to give him an excuse for fisticuffs. All too occasionally, tense hostage situations of the cuckold-with-a-gun variety allow us to see Rafael at work as a negotiator. Nathalyia’s no-account sister Theresa, who shows up to extort money from her, also provides relief from the spectacle of the oh-so-holier-than-thou couple exercising impeccable self-restraint. When Nathalyia becomes pregnant, the lovers continue to strew obstacles in their own path. (She: I would never get pregnant just to trap a man like my mother and sisters did. He: My job is so dangerous it’s better not to have a family.) Anticipating rejection, Nathalyia tells Rafael that she was inseminated with Martin’s frozen sperm. Stung, he postures more. Inevitably, Rafael’s close-knit family brings him to his senses, while Nathalyia’s dysfunctional one reminds her of all she’s overcome and all she can still achieve.