Series: Windfall #3
Source: the library
Release Date: February 24, 2015
Challenges: Finishing the Series
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Blurb from goodreads:
SCANDALOUS SECRETS LEAD TO DEADLY DESIRE...
Ten years ago, Paige Walker left her beloved home of Windfall Island to become an actress in Hollywood. Now she's coming back a star, honored with awards and beset by scandal. Escaping from a tabloid frenzy of gossip and lies, Paige wants nothing more than to surround herself with old friends. She never expected to meet an infuriating—and sexy—stranger . . . or to find herself in true danger.
Brilliant attorney Alec Barclay came to Windfall to look for the kidnapped, long-lost heir to the Stanhope family fortune. What he finds is the most beautiful and enigmatic woman he has ever known. If his suspicions are correct, she's the heir he's been looking for . . . and the target of a deadly conspiracy. Drawn together by desire—but haunted by secrets of the past—Alec and Paige try to unlock a mystery as dangerous as it is irresistible. But every passion has a price.
The final book in the trilogy, everything comes to a head in "Secret Harbor". It wasn't a grand conclusion, it was a bit anticlimactic in fact, but it did tie up most of the loose threads.
We met Paige in book two, where she came off as snobby and bitchy, very bitchy. She'd been gone for a long time, was formerly friends with the heroines of the earlier books, Jessi and Maggie, and now she's back on Windfall Island hiding out from a very public scandal. She is able to resurrect her friendship with Maggie and Jessi and in the process gets dragged into the mystery of Eugenia Stanhope, the missing heiress.
The Stanhope family is looking for Eugenia and possible descendants; one member, Clayton, wants to prevent them from claiming any part of the Stanhope fortune while another member, Rose, just wants to know what really happened to Eugenia and welcome any new relatives into the family. Maggie and Jessi have been ruled out as possible descendants but Paige is still in the pool of potential descendants. While the group awaits results of a blood test, they continue looking for evidence and fending off attacks from Clayton Stanhope. To help with the latter, Alec, a former Stanhope family lawyer moves in with Paige to help keep her safe, despite a lack of any actual body guard skills or experience. Sparks fly but at first there's a lot of antagonism. Antagonists to lovers is not a favorite trope of mine and bot Paige and Alec act like asses or spoiled children at various points. Paige is stubborn and proud and Alec is yet another man sure he knows what best and his way is the right way, AAAARGH! When he ignores Paige's request to stay out of the scandal she's involved in and let her handle, he decides he knows better than she does and, behind her back, tries to help but of course it blows up in his face. His lack of Internet familiarity was both pathetic and humorous. Paige of course is furious and hurt by what she perceives as a lack of trust on his part, i.e. he didn't trust her to handle the situation. And she's right, though her response was a bit overboard. They work matters out but they are both too stubborn for their relationship to ever really be smooth sailing; she's prickly and quick with the barbs while he's judgmental and also quick with the barbed comments. But they both have a sense of humor and a strong sense of loyalty. Though I wanted to slap them both at times, I was rooting for them to get past the misunderstandings and emotional walls and to be together.
As for the mystery, it was more fleshed out than in book two and more smoothly integrated into the story. Questions are answered, there are a few surprises and some cliches, the villains are poorly developed and quite stereotypical (I'm looking at you Meeker) but I admit that I was kept guessing as to what happened to poor Eugenia and which, if any, of the islanders were a descendant. Some of my guesses were right and some were wrong, which is always nice.
There was one change to Windfall Island that I didn't see coming but when I looked back, the clues were there. It's an aspect of the island that I find both appealing and unlikely especially in this day and age of so much red tape. Yeah, I know, that's vague, but to say more would be to reveal a spoiler.
So, I liked "Secret Harbor", I enjoyed it, there are some good zingers, a fiery romance, a decent mystery, and a very enjoyable subplot about friendship, forgiveness and loyalty.