A woman agrees to take over her estranged, ailing father’s business and learns some deadly secrets in Wheeler’s debut novel.
South African Lin Fletcher lost her foster parents years ago. She also endured a loveless marriage to her hateful, adulterous husband, Geoff, who recently died. Now living in Cape Town, she’s surprised when her biological father, Paul Ansley, wants to see her. He has little time left on Earth, he says, whether or not he opts for heart surgery, and he wants Lin to be the major beneficiary of his vast business empire in Australia. He has stepchildren from his second marriage, but one of them, Felicity, has no interest in the business, and the other, Sean, could wreck the company (“I believe Sean is trying to ruin me financially,” Paul says). It turns out that Paul has been watching Lin for some time, enlisting ex–CIA agent Cameron Michaels, among others, to keep her under surveillance. Cameron becomes Paul’s head of security after someone accesses the company’s “vital documents.” Paul, at his Blue Diamond cattle station in Sydney, has a rather unconventional idea for securing both his company and Blue Diamond: if Lin marries Cole Stretton, an equal shareholder in the property, Paul can transfer his shares to her and keep Sean clear of his empire. Unfortunately, this ignites a fight between Cole and Cameron for Lin’s affections, and Lin’s unsure where her heart lies. Wheeler’s novel begins as a mystery: Geoff is clearly up to something sinister, and readers learn that his death is no accident. But even though it’s evident throughout that Cameron and Paul are hiding something from Lin, the bulk of the novel centers on potential romance. Wheeler depicts these relationships, however, as anything but typical: tenderness, for one, is all but nonexistent, and the men are often rough with Lin; Cole squeezes her wrist while pulling her close, and Cameron “crushed her mouth with a punishing kiss.” Lin isn’t helpless, though; indeed, she proves superior to the male recruits in the security training program. A major threat faces Lin in the more intense final act, and there are also a few surprises as the mystery unravels.
A drawn-out but gripping thriller bolstered by a romantic triangle that defies expectations.