COUNTERING HIS CLAIM – Rachel Bailey
Harlequin Desire #2262
Aboard the Cruise Ship Cora Mae, Sailing the South Seas – Present Day
After the death of the cruise ship Cora Mae 's owner, everyone assumes the ownership will pass to his nephew and only heir, billionaire hotelier Luke Marlow. But at the reading of the will, the ship's doctor, Della Walsh, inherits half of it with Luke. He immediately assumes Della pressured a dying man in order to monetarily gain half ownership, but Della insists she is as surprised as Luke and is willing to consider selling her share to him. When she learns he plans to dry-dock the ship and turn it into a floating hotel, she decides to battle him and show him how wonderful life aboard a ship is by inviting him to cruise for a few weeks. To his own surprise, Luke agrees. Of course, the fact that he's attracted to Della is part of the reason…
Della herself was raised on a cruise ship, and after the tragic death of her husband in an attack that left her scarred, she feels “safe” onboard, while avoiding any intimate relationships. She loves the Cora Mae and the people on it, as they are like family to her. Luke's plan to turn it into a hotel has her fighting to keep the ship afloat, and she'll do anything to win, including dining with him in his suite. He makes it clear he's interested in her, but she tries her best to keep him at arm's length without angering him. But soon she can't resist him, even though he wants more from her than her body. He wants to know why she has chosen to more or less isolate herself on a cruise ship when she could use her doctoring skills elsewhere. Luke, for his part, alternates between wondering if Della used her influence against his uncle…and feeling that his attraction for her is making him reckless. Will Della convince him that the Cora Mae needs to stay alive cruising the South Pacific?
COUNTERING HIS CLAIM is a bit of a change of pace for a Desire since this tale takes place mostly on board a cruise ship. Della has locked her feelings away after losing her beloved husband, and Luke tenderly and resolutely brings her back to life. But both are determined to achieve what they believe is the right course of action for the Cora Mae, and neither wants to give in. It's a tug of war—both in convincing the other who is right and Della giving herself finally to Luke after her terrible loss. Once their affair begins, COUNTERING HIS CLAIM is a sensual journey that only leaves the fate of Cora Mae to be decided—and if landlubber Luke or water-lover Della will decide where they want to make their future together.
If you like a romance that takes place in an out of the ordinary location, and a couple who are on even footed terms in sharing ownership of a cruise ship, then COUNTERING HIS CLAIM is the right book for you and one I highly recommend.