The December release of Judith McNaught's most recent New York Times bestseller EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE is --- to borrow McNaught's previous book titles --- ALMOST HEAVEN because the setting of the Caribbean island of Anguilla is a PERFECT piece of PARADISE and SOMETHING WONDERFUL to read on a cold winter night.
After giving the reader the necessary background about Mitchell Wyatt's relationship to the socially elite Wyatt family of Chicago and to William Wyatt, the brother he has only recently met and who has mysteriously disappeared, McNaught surprises us by quickly jetting us away from the Wyatt Mansion "high atop a snow-covered hill" to a private villa on the tropical Caribbean island of Anguilla overlooking Maundays Bay, where "graceful sailboats and gleaming yachts glided through the sparkling waters."
The rich deep turquoise cover of EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE with Judith McNaught's name embossed in hot pink takes on a new meaning as we are transported to this tropical island paradise where the scents of blooming jasmine and frangipani abound. The turquoise waters of the Caribbean come vividly to mind along with the "crescent-shaped beach with sand as white as granulated sugar" as McNaught paints a vivid prelude for romance.
Titian-haired, green-eyed Kate Donovan is mourning the death of her beloved Irish father. Kate's lawyer boyfriend of four years, Evan Bartlett, planned an idyllic week in Anguilla to give Kate some time before she takes on the challenge of running her father's landmark Irish pub turned most elegant, most popular restaurant in Chicago, "Donovan's." Evan returns to Chicago to try an important case right after they check into the private villa at the Island Club, leaving Kate alone in this tropical paradise --- but not for long. Kate answers the beckoning warmth of the sun and the sea, venturing out of the pristine white villa and meeting the "outrageously handsome" Mitchell Wyatt, who becomes "completely enchanted" by her. His rapier blue gaze says one thing: I want you. Is it any wonder that Kate Donovan throws caution to the balmy breezes of Anguilla and takes her best friend Holly's advice to have a "fling" before Evan rejoins her?
Being stuck alone on a tropical island suddenly becomes much more tolerable and interesting for Kate now that the possibility of romance between two people who are "wildly" attracted to each other exists. Unsure whether the "lethally attractive" Mitchell is a gigolo or just "the most attractive man she'd ever encountered," Kate makes plans to meet him for dinner.
The sexual tension between Kate and Mitchell is coupled with the casual innuendo-laden conversations that take place between two people who keep envisioning the king-sized bed in the villa. Kate is very open and shares stories about her childhood, but when she presses the more secretive Mitchell to share further details about why he was raised in Europe, she scares him away. The magic spell is broken and Mitchell leaves Kate with the realization that "every adult male had some sort of useful emotional barricades."
The "perfect" male can be found in Judith McNaught's novels. What makes him so "perfect" besides charisma, charm and sex appeal? He knows without a doubt that the heroine is meant for him, that destiny, fate and magic exist in his relationship with the woman who "completely enchants" him. The perfect male "ignores all the obstacles and does whatever it takes" to make this woman his own. Mitchell Wyatt is the "perfect" male. He returns to Kate's villa, wraps his arms around her, and shares some of his guarded past. We are swept into the moment by the "stirring beat of steel drums playing calypso music on the beach," ravishing kisses and the romance and passion between Kate and Mitchell that is the essence of why EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE appears on the New York Times bestseller list.
Mitchell is unaware that he has become a suspect in his brother William's disappearance, and their every kiss and embrace is being photographed by two likeable detectives from Chicago who are so out of place in this luxurious tropical setting that it adds a touch of humor to the novel. Evan plays the jilted lover nastily. The secondary characters are truly secondary. William's killer is revealed and we are surprised because we don't know much about this character.
There is miscommunication between Mitchell and Kate that leads to separation and hurt feelings. How could a relationship so perfect go so wrong so fast? Kate finds herself alone again, this time in Chicago --- except for the seed of Mitchell Wyatt growing inside her, her best friend Holly, and her warmhearted uncle, Father Donovan. Three years pass. Kate is Chicago's Restaurateur of the Year with an adorable son who is the spitting image of his father. When Mitchell finds out about his son through an emotionally charged event that brings him back to Kate again, he has no doubts he still wants her. "I'm in love with you" goes a long way in repairing past mistakes.
EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE is a searing novel of taking a chance on love --- not once but twice --- with a man who not only exudes "potent sexual vitality" but one who pursues the magic he experiences with Kate with every breath he takes. There's nothing like a happy ending with a sexy man.
Reviewed by Hillary Wagy on January 21, 2011