Tucker returns to Miami in her loosely tied romantic series (One Tiny Lie, 2014, etc.), this time focusing on the saintly owner of Penny’s Palace—the city’s most exclusive strip club.
After Cain Ford's troubled youth (his family was murdered; his life as an underground fighter led to deaths), at 29 he operates a swanky strip club as a way of saving desperate women from the sex trade. Or at least a version of the sex trade in which you're asked to perform more than a lap dance. He also owns an apartment building where many of his dancers live, so he can look after them. But don’t call him a pimp—he uses his street-fighting skills on anyone who does. Into his club walks Charlie Rourke, a 22-year-old blonde beauty. She’s hired as a stripper, but everything Cain sees—and guiltily lusts after—is a deception. The young woman known as Charlie is really an 18-year-old New Yorker sent to Miami by her mob-boss stepfather, Sam, to help him smuggle heroin. When her mother died, Sam showered little Charlie with everything—trips, toys, loving affection; each birthday was special, and he never missed a gymnastics meet. Which is why it's so hard for Charlie to say no to Sam, but she can’t figure out why a loving father would jeopardize his daughter's safety (neither can the reader), and she knows she has to escape. That means a new identity, which is expensive, and enough money to hold her over; thus the stripping. Cain is mesmerized by Charlie (there are many references to him adjusting his pants), and soon the two give in to their lust. But Charlie’s cover is slipping, Cain’s buddy is with the DEA, and Sam has hired a new partner who's threatening Charlie, so it hardly seems the time for romance. Charlie runs away, and the only way she’s coming back is if Sam is gone.
Though Tucker’s prose and pacing have a vibrant energy, the plot is simply preposterous.