From #1 New York Times-bestselling author Nora Roberts comes a novel of a woman who needs nothing, a man who sees everything, and the web of deceit, greed, and danger that brings them together—and could tear them apart . . .
When professional house-sitter Lila Emerson witnesses a murder/suicide from her current apartment-sitting job, life as she knows it takes a dramatic turn. Suddenly, the woman with no permanent ties finds herself almost wishing for one. . . .
Artist Ashton Archer knows his brother isn’t capable of violence—against himself or others. He recruits Lila, the only eyewitness, to help him uncover what happened. Ash longs to paint her as intensely as he hungers to touch her. But their investigation draws them into a rarified circle where priceless antiques are bought, sold, gambled away, and stolen, where what you possess is who you are, and where what you desire becomes a deadly obsession. . .
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Lila is the daughter of in the military father. This plays a role in the way she regards people. The way she is distant and ever moving. As a house-sitter, she enjoys the moving and resettling routine she grew up in. She’s also a writer and enjoys the routine of that. As we shift through the story, we find that she’s handy, capable, and self sufficient. She likes to handle things on her own. You see the difficulties she has with Ash when he is used to doing the same. Lila is determined, smart, intuitive, and has a greater ability to accept what is than she knows.
Ash is an artist who enjoys painting women in fantastical displays. His agent keeps him employed and his bank account up. He’s also the brother of many, a son of Spence Archer, well respected by his name. Above that, he’s the head of the family without the title. His family goes to him to handle things. He’s used to ruling with an iron fist, handling what comes, and guards what’s his. In doing so, he’s used to bulldozing and manhandling with finesse. Often times, as stated in the book, people are where he wants them without realizing he put them there. This comes to play in how he tries to do the same with Lila, with expected push back.
An art gallery manager, Julie is Lila’s confident, shopping partner, and solid friend. When Lila is in between house-sitting gigs, Lila stays with her. As she’s featured in the book, she is the friend that Lila goes to when she sees Oliver Archer’s girlfriend Sage fall to her death. When things get hairy, Julie is there to keep Lila’s head on and her impulsiveness to a minimum. She’s also featured in a side romance with Luke. They’d lost each other once upon a time and found each other again.
Owning his own bakery in town, Luke is Ash’s friend. Conveniently he’s also the ex-husband of Lila’s best friend, Julie. See how it all intertwines together? Roberts is skilled at this in her relationships and characterizations. Luke sees Julie for the first time in so many years, the one that got away. Determined to help Ash with his adventures, he’s also after Julie’s heart again. He ends up being a solid shoulder and confident of Lila and Ash’s too.
Lila is a house-sitter and enjoys the constant moving, seeing into other people’s lives and enjoying it. It gives her a level of newness that thrills her and writing material when the mood strikes. One night, after dinner and drinks with a friend, she uses her binoculars to spy (observe) the neighbors. To her, they are windows into other worlds and she loves to make up stories of what she sees. It’s a fun little game to her until she watches a woman fall to her death.
Oliver Archer is the victim’s boyfriend and is later found dead in the same apartment made to look like a suicide. At the police station, she is approached by Ashton Archer, brother of Oliver, and begs that she tell him what she saw. Knowing that his brother would never hurt a woman or kill himself, he begs her to talk to him.
When they talk, they find quickly that Oliver was murdered and why. As they work together, romantic feelings are sparked unable to deny the physical attraction. Armed with knowledge that Oliver was murdered, they embark on a journey together in finding out who did it.
Along with the way, they discover Oliver was hiding jewels of historical and financial wealth. They work with family, trusted outsiders, and find gambling, theft, and murder are in their wake.
Roberts draws you through the streets of New York, paints a picture of a colorful Italy, keeps you in the lull of romance and action with intensity. You’re whisked on a journey to find that one man’s obsession can a cause trauma, death, and distraction in it’s wake. Working together is the key to bringing justice to Ash’s brother.
The romance is slow and budding, Ash is a painter and asks to paint Lila as a gypsy, its how he sees her. This plays a big part of the dance between the characters. I enjoy that they both are used to taking over and being in charge but come to a compromise and learn how to work together. They compliment each other in personality, finesse, and, smarts. Lila is slower to love than he is. He’s more abrasive and deal with it, kind of guy with a patience and sweetness that is overwhelming to Lila. It takes her longer but the surrender is sweet and the perfect ending to the story after the whirlwind of emotional trauma they endure. But they endure together.