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Book Review: Every Breath You Take
Every Breath You Take
It Begins On A Tropical Island
Every Breath You Take is a romantic murder mystery penned by Judith McNaught, who does a good job of keeping you guessing throughout the novel. At the beginning of the book Kate Donovan is vacationing on the island of St Maarten after the death of her father. Her lawyer boyfriend Evan has returned to Chicago for a very important court case, so Kate is left on her own and begins feeding a stray dog she names Max. Kate is sad about the death of her father and she is contemplating ending her relationship with Evan. One day Kate is having lunch and she accidentally spills her bloody Mary on Mitchell Wyatt, the illegitimate grandson of the powerful business man Cecil Wyatt. Mitchell was disowned by his family at birth and was sent away to live at various boarding schools in Europe. He become a prodigy in his on right and with the help of his mentor the Greek businessman Stavros Konstantatos.
Interestingly, Mitchell speaks English with an American accent, although he is proficient in several other European languages and spent all of his childhood in Europe. Mitchell is quite the Renaissance man and business investor, but he is also quite the ladies man and his reputation has preceded him. However, Kate knows nothing of his reputation when she agrees to meet him for dinner to repay him for having ruined his shirt with her mishap. Kate is worried that Mitchell may be a psycho killer, so she leaves a note in her hotel room alerting everyone to who she went out to dinner with that night. When Kate goes to meet Mitchell for dinner she notices her favorite stray dog Max has been hit, and in order to please her, Mitchell calls for an ambulance and a doctor to attend to the poor pooch. Max bites the doctor attending to his needs, and we notice throughout the book this cute lab seems to have a problem with authority figures, but he is really a nice dog in all other situations. There is something about Max that drew me into the book because I must admit I always have soft spot for animals, and I think the McNaught must also since her character Kate owned both cats and dogs.
Max was not severely harmed after being hit, and he is allowed to stay in Kate's room thereafter. Mitchell and Kate decide to have dinner on her patio so they can stay near the dog after he has been hit. Mitchell discovers the note Kate wrote, and she ends up having to explain herself to him. I thought this was funny and sort of gave the book a true to life feel because many of us single women alert our friends to when we are going out with a stranger, it is only a safety precaution and I am sure our dates will totally understand if they care about us. Anyway, things continue to progress with Kate and Mitchell, but she is reluctant to spend an intimate night with him because he keeps fishing into her past and refuses to reveal anything about himself.
In a surprising twist, but no so unexpected since this is a romance novel, Mitchell comes back and tells Kate about his brother and they end up sharing a very passionate kiss. The next day Mitchell goes with Kate to take Max to a proper veterinarian who will give him shots and arrange for his transit to the United States. After the vet visit Mitchell surprises Kate by taking her to a beautiful hotel resort on the French part of St Maarten. Things begin to heat up in this part of the novel, and I can imagine you know what I mean without my having to elaborate. One thing I like about McNaught's writing is that she can describe intimate and romantic scenes without being raunchy, and very few romance novelists have mastered this skill in my humble opinion. Also, she weaves in a very interesting murder mystery, which helped to keep my attention because pure romances tend to cause my mind to meander from the book to other activities such as hubbing, web surfing, art work, etc.
Kate and Mitchell decide that they have a connection and that she is going to break off her relationship with Evan. However, when Kate gets back to the hotel Evan tells her something that will confuse and shock her, but I am going to end my description of the book here and let you decide if you want to read the book yourself. I love the romantic and lush scenes that McNaught talks about on the island of St Maarten, so I decided to take you on a virtual tour of the island with me. Get your virgin tropical drink and come with me.
The Island of St Maarten
The island of St Maarten is an interesting island because one half of the island is French and the other half is Dutch. The original inhabitants of St Maarten were the Arawak Indians, who lived in solitude until the arrival of Columbus. The island was declared part of Spain and named Isle de San Martin in 1493 and today the French still refer to the island as St Martin. The Dutch settlers came to the island and started a permanent settlement in 1631 because it was a midway point in shipping between Amsterdam and New York, which was still the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam at that time. Between 1633-1648 the Spanish fought for control of San Maarten and most of the Dutch settlers left the island out of fear for their lives. However, the Spaniards withdrew in 1648 and both the French and the Dutch returned to try to regain control of the island. There are unconfirmed account that the island was divided in half by the Dutch and French by having two men start at the center of the island and walk to opposite ends of the shore. This is just a legend and it is hard to confirm whether is it true, but the French half of St Maarten is larger than the Dutch part.
The plantation economy of St Maarten was built upon slavery, which was abolished on the French side in 1848. The Dutch abolished slavery in 1863, the same year the Lincoln declared the Emancipation Proclamation and made slavery illegal in the United States, even though this would not be fully observed until the end of the Civil War. The island of St Maarten suffered from economic decay with the end of the cash crop economy slavery nurtured, but the rise of tourism helped to revive the island's financial well being. St Maarten has been a duty free port since 1939 and today many people prefer to shop and vacation on the island for this reason. The relativity low crime rate, beautiful scenery, exotic blend of cultures, and modern amenities make St Maarten a wonderful vacation or honeymoon spot. I have never been to the island, but by reading McNaught's descriptions I felt like i was there. It is fun for me to do a little research about the locales of books, which actually helps me to feel like I was transported there in my mind. What did we do before the Internet? The possibilities are now endless.
Although visiting the Caribbean would be nice, I am still waiting to win the lottery and go to French Polynesia. Hope you enjoy reading this book and feel free to share your thoughts about it.