Harlequin, July 2003, 304 pp.
After being away from her family home for eight years, Mariah returns to Henry Island, North Carolina to spread the ashes of her deceased father all over the isle. However, when she reaches the Outer Banks Island, she finds widower Gray Hallowell using the home she inherited from her father. He has a lease so she moves to one of the other cottages, but her odious extended family occupies all the rooms except that normally used by the cook.
Gray is surprised that he is attracted to Mariah because he has been woman dead since his beloved spouse died from cancer while carrying his unborn child, who also died with her. Though everybody wants him to leave, Gray refuses as he promised Mariah's dad that he would investigate the boating accident that killed the man's wife. He refuses to quit because he cannot believe how nasty his deceased client's relatives are. As he and Mariah fall in love, he revises his quest to keep her safe from a nasty ex-husband and thugs who covet the sale of the island to pay for the debts run up by the heroine's cousin.
Though the extended family is too eccentrically nasty and incredibly selfish so that no one will like any of the adults, fans will be fond of the rest of the cast. Dixie Browning is a fantastic romance writer and UNDERTOW, her first single title release will not be her last as she shows great talent for writing the longer and deeper books. Her characters ring true, her pacing is on target and the story line is fascinating. What more can one ask from a book?
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner