A handsome businessman hires a hot marine archaeologist to help him find buried treasure off the coast of Florida, but what should have been a fun burgeoning romance and exploration of a shipwreck in the Pacific turns dangerous as someone else searches for the treasure too. Lee is a tough, highly intelligent brunette, who pulled herself up from the lower-middle-class with sheer brains, hard work and determination. Her mother's death from cancer left her shaken and sad, though it had been long anticipated,and as head of the family Lee has to make sure her brother Raul goes to college and doesn't get into any trouble. Lee decides to leave Miami when she hears that a treasure salvage operation is happening in the Keys, where if she was hired, she wold use her degree in nautical archaeology to help high net-worth individuals locate buried treasure in the ocean, but also salvage original artifacts and publish research on it.
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When wealthy real estate magnate Burrton ("Burr") hires Lee to investigate the claims of sunken Spanish galleys in the Florida Keys, Lee is drawn in by the money and potential for research, and then by Burr himself. There is attraction between them and a constant tussle for power and control. Lee also feels hostility from the other female researcher and diver, Margo, who had a fling with Burr previously. Lee's research and exploration dives reveal that there is one galley from the late seventeenth century, the Santa Isabella with a treasure of gold buried in it if the historical records are accurate and Lee's exploration has been thorough. Burr wants to send Lee down in a submarine to take the wreck apart slowly and find the treasure. Lee is horrified at the thought of damaging the historically significant shipwreck. Burr then decides to lift the ship out of the water with cranes and then take it apart, and Lee is outraged at the thought of the damage that might be done. There are many opportunities for flirtation and the building of attraction between them, such as during a dive when Lee nearly faints after being underwater too long and is in danger of drowning, Burr pulls her back to the surface and resuscitates her. Lee tries to persuade Burr to allow her to bring in the Smithsonian or another prominent museum to work on the wreck with her and lift historical data from it, such as taking possession of any furniture or other items found inside the wreck and cleaning them, but Burr is adamant that the project be kept a secret and wants nobody else involved.
However, on her next dive, Lee is disquieted to see that someone else has been at the wreck, as she sees her arrangement of boards inside the broken hull (she was trying to move debris around to find a treasure chest) had been displaced. At first she put it down to marine animals, but she hides as she sees a flashlight moving in the dark water, and knows another diver is there. When the stranger swims away, Lee swims for the surface and tells Burton. His reaction is grim, and he tells her she can bring an additional diver to help her. Lee chooses her brother Raul, who doesn't want to go back to university but is a semi-professional diver, thanks to Lee and Raul's marine archaeologist father. Lee is surprised and touched by the camaraderie that springs up between Raul and Burr, and it makes her finally fall in love with Burr, although he is still very mocking towards her. The treasure is finally found, quite a distance away from the actual ship, likely thrown from the force of the crash many years ago. Raul and Lee prepare to dive into the waters to hook an anchoring device onto it, but at the last minute Margo informs Raul that he's required back in the office, and Raul, puzzled but obedient, takes off on the jet ski. Margo and Lee dive together, but Margo tries to drown Lee by choking her underwater. Just when it appears Lee is starting to lose the struggle, new dark shapes appear in the water, pulling Margo off of Lee. These are Raul and Burr. It turns out Burr's suspicions went off when Raul was sent back alone, and he came out and dived in after them. When she is brought to the surface, Margo spits that she intended to take the credit for finding the treasure for herself and though it's unsaid, it is clear she also meant to marry Burr in the process. But Lee's attention is focused on Burr, whose sardonic nature has changed in his gentle concern for her. He takes her to his house after the police arrest Margo and sits by her as she is nursed back to health, and tells her that he almost lost the only thing he cared about - not the treasure, but her. Lee melts, and they kiss and embrace on the bed, and have sex finally after weeks of pent up tension. They then agree to marry.
Best part of story, including ending:
I enjoyed learning about marine archaeology for the first time. I did not know that was a field.
Best scene in story:
when Lee is mentoring Raul and being concerned about his future. Nice to see a cool sister-brother scene.
Opinion about the main character:
I like how authoritative Burr was and how dedicated and sweet Lee was.