Friday, October 9, 2009

Review: Below Deck by Dorien Kelly

Title: Below Deck
Series: Mediterranean Nights
Author: Dorien Kelly
Read copy: eBook
Published: November 1, 2007
Publisher: Harlequin
ISBN: 1426808518
ISBN-13: 9781426808517

Not everything is aboveboard...

When Mei Lin Wang met young radical social activist Wei Chan she knew it was fate. She didn't know that less than three years later she would be left widowed with a newborn son after a suspicious illness claimed Wei's life.

Now, still convinced of their shared destiny, Lin is determined to avenge Wei and continue his work, but she must also protect her son from those responsible for her husband's death.

For months Lin has secreted her son below deck on the cruise ship Alexandra's Dream, under cover of her job. It's turned into a game of hide-and-seek with the ship's security officer, Gideon Dayan, whose interest is piqued by the mystery that surrounds her.

But through his attraction, Gideon sees his own haunted past when he looks at Lin...and she can't let her past go. Will they finally be able to face the future...together?

My rating:

Mei Lin Wang is using the cruise ship Alexandra's Dream as a hiding place. She's escaped China after her husband's death and giving birth to their son. The little boy she's keeping in her stateroom in complete secret. Her late husband was a human rights activist and the Chinese government would do anything to get their hands on both Lin and her son.

But Mei Lin has run out of luck. In her attempts at blending into the background and being inconspicuous, she's roused the interest of the ship's Chief of Security, a Mossad agent on leave, Gideon Dayan. And what starts as a simple ship romance, soon blossoms into something more while the danger to Lin and little Wei draws inexorably closer with each day.

Yes. For the last (6) book in this twelve-book miniseries that is (apparently) set in the Med - in the end it's clear Alexandra's Dream has sailed toward the Caribbean (though how can there still be a Mediterranean Nights series in the Caribbean eludes me), this one packed quite a punch.
The pacing was excellent, the hero and heroine wonderful characters, both with acutely painful pasts (though I'm partial to Gideon myself, probably because his past was more detailedly described, but mostly because he was such a sweet softy for a seasoned Mossad agent), the chemistry and attraction between them was tangible, and the reluctance they felt before embarking on their "journey" understandable and believable. There was even a breath of suspense thrown into the mix (though I could've done without the Ariana Bennet angle - she has her own story later on).

Somewhere in the middle of the story, it all went downhill. All thanks to the heroine. While in the beginning she came across as strong, resilient, determined to do what it takes for her child to survive, in the middle of the book that woman was gone and in her place was a stubborn, blind, obtuse and selfish woman who didn't listen to reason when it slapped her in the face, and almost lost the best thing that ever happened to her - Gideon.
The guy tried everything to talk some sense into her, he told her of his past, of the woman he'd lost to the foolish ideals of martyrdom, but Lin would not be deterred. God, the woman turned out to be obnoxious.

That about face is what lowered the rating for this book. If she "remained in character", or hopefully realized her folly a little sooner, without the enormous push by Gideon, the rating would've been higher and I would've enjoyed this story much better. Still, one of the best so far.

I'm taking a breather from this series, I will pick up the next six books when I get past the crazy notion of the Mediterranean in the Caribbean Sea.


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