Warner, Sep 2004, 5.99, 432 pp.
In Clearwater Beach, Florida, Nick Armstrong blames his family's misfortune on his father's business partner of two decades ago, Henry Ash, who took advantage of a grieving man (Nick's mom had just died). Henry swindled Nick's dad out of his share of their business. Nick's father became an alcoholic, his brother became mentally unbalanced and his sister gave up her plans to attend college. Nick worked like a dog to keep the family alive and recently his Horizon Painters firm has had success.
Henry's daughter “Princess” Lauren hires Nick's firm to paint her house. Nick's first reaction to seeing her highness is that she is the prettiest woman he ever saw, but assumes she is a shallow man-eater. As he works on her home, he finds her RED DIARY in which she fantasizes about lovers similar to that of her loose best friend. Nick decides the best way to avenge his family is to give Lauren everything she asks for in her diary. However, as he succeeds in his quest, he falls in love with his victim and fears how she will react to the truth.
This enjoyable contemporary romance focuses on a deep message that destructive negative emotions by one person have a downward impact on other family members. Henry's collapse takes his children down with him in different way with the plot predominantly looking at Nick, who has a cancer inside him until Lauren's love begins to heal him. Lauren is a wonderful protagonist, perhaps too good for Nick even with her therapeutic love saving him from himself. Still Toni Blake makes it quite clear that revenge harms the culprit as much, if not more, as the intended target.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner