Ten years ago, Paige Walker left her beloved home of Windfall Island to become an actress in Hollywood. Now she’s coming back a star, honored with awards and beset by scandal. Escaping from a tabloid frenzy of gossip and lies, Paige wants nothing more than to surround herself with old friends. She never expected to meet an infuriating—and sexy—stranger . . . or to find herself in true danger.
Brilliant attorney Alec Barclay came to Windfall to look for the kidnapped, long-lost heir to the Stanhope family fortune. What he finds is the most beautiful and enigmatic woman he has ever known. If his suspicions are correct, she’s the heir he’s been looking for . . . and the target of a deadly conspiracy. Drawn together by desire—but haunted by secrets of the past—Alec and Paige try to unlock a mystery as dangerous as it is irresistible. But every passion has a price…
As a fan of the Windfall Island series, I was excited to read the third and final book, Secret Harbor, because of its heroine, Paige Walker. Despite some imperfections, my instincts about Paige were right on and made for an enjoyable read.
Some spoiler-free recap: During Prohibition times, a baby from the wealthy Stanhope family disappeared from a boat near Windfall Island. She was assumed dead at the time, but later questions arose, and one part of the family hired a PI (Dex, the hero from book 1) to see if she could have survived. Dex also brought in a genealogist (Hold Abbot, the hero from book 2) to research the island’s historical documents. The problem is, someone wants to eliminate potential heirs because any heir would be eligible to receive part of the family’s massive fortune.
And some recap that will include light spoilers for the earlier books: At the start of this book, they’ve done DNA tests on the previous heroines, Maggie and Jessi, and discovered neither is a match. This leaves only Paige Walker as a possibility. Paige is a famous movie star and Windfall native who’s returned home to hide out after a painful scandal. She was childhood friends with Jessi and Maggie but they had a falling out. Now that she’s back, they’ve reconciled and are all working on the mystery. The group has brought in Alec Barclay, former Stanhope lawyer and Dex’s friend, to help as well. Alec and Paige immediately antagonize each other, and have some sizzling attraction. When Alec has to move in with Paige to protect her while they try to figure out if she’s the heir, their bickering, and sexual tension, ratchet up even farther.
Let’s start with what I liked! For me Paige made this book. She’s a complicated woman, and I liked getting to know her. She wasn’t ashamed of her Windfall heritage, but she also burned a lot of bridges when she left, so she hadn’t really come back much since she became a star. I enjoyed that she’s portrayed as an excellent actress who’s serious about her craft, not just a pretty face. Now that she’s back, she’s realizing all she lost by cutting herself off from her home, and she’s reevaluating what is really important in life. Her struggles with fame and privacy were fascinating and felt real. I don’t personally know any famous people, but I could imagine the challenges that would bring! I also love the female friendships in the series. I felt like we really had the chance to see Maggie, Jessi, and Paige negotiate what adult female friendships look like, and I like that Paige has to figure out how to be a part of a community. This book felt a little more melancholy in tone, mostly because Paige is a bit more melancholy, and I thought that matched my movie-influenced vision of a hard, wind swept island in the Atlantic.
There were some things I didn’t like. Alec vacillated between forgettable and obnoxious to me. He is pretty much immediately and seemingly without justification a jerk to Paige, like from the very first time he meets her. It was so abrupt that, even though I knew they’d never met before, it almost felt like walking into the middle of a scene. The only real explanation given for why he was so immediately horrible to her is because his grandfather raised him to have strong opinions so he’s already judged her? It’s weak and makes him seem like a dick. Plus he holds onto that snottiness for way too long. I did enjoy some of their banter, but I wanted them to move past that into real conversation much earlier than they did. While I enjoyed the overall mystery, too much of it didn’t make sense. For instance, the DNA testing on Paige was too drawn out without a strong enough explanation, and the explanation for the villain’s continued villainy towards the end was minimal. It’s fun and interesting, but you can’t really think too hard about it.
I’m a little sad to see the series wrap up because I loved the heroines and definitely grew to love the people of Windfall. I enjoy Sullivan’s voice and hope to see more from her in the future.
Rating: 4 out of 5