"Moonlight on the water, champagne, soft Mediterranean nights..." The French Riviera beckons enticingly in summer to those who travel by private luxury yacht and to those who are armchair travelers. Sailing to Capri aboard the megayacht Blue Boat will spoil the reader with decadent luxury --- a wine cellar, "a glass-enclosed piano bar, which slowly revolved to take in the view," and Picasso and Matisse art enhancing the pale aqua and tawny sand and ivory color scheme.
New York Times bestselling author and world traveler Elizabeth Adler has established a niche of romance novels set in the luxurious destinations along the Cote d'Azur. SAILING TO CAPRI is the latest in her series, including SUMMER IN TUSCANY, INVITATION TO PROVENCE, THE HOTEL RIVIERA and THE HOUSE IN AMALFI.
Sailing to Capri millionaire-style would not be complete without romance, mystery and fine wines. Adler describes lavish suites aboard the yacht with private stewardesses to cater to every desire, a master chef to prepare the freshest catch from the local markets of the ports in Monte Carlo, Saint-Tropez and Sorrento. This cruise, however, has an added bonus of $100,000 for each guest on this invitation only trip to "celebrate the life of Sir Robert Hardwick." At the end of the cruise in Capri, Hardwick's will is to be read at his Villa Belkiss. Each guest has reason to believe he or she will be the recipient of one of Forbes's richest men.
English mega-tycoon Sir Robert Hardwick begins receiving threatening emails and suspects someone from his past may harm him. Before his mysterious and sudden car accident, he leaves instructions with a private investigator and friend, Harry Montana, for six people to be invited on a Mediterranean cruise aboard a private yacht to celebrate his life --- and to reveal his killer. The guests include his ex-wife, his ex-mistress, his first true love, an ex-business friend, an ex-business partner, and an ex-friend. The characters are a diverse group whose secrets and vices have nearly destroyed them. "Each of them has a flaw. And each one resents me, even though I did what I thought best for them." Bob's influence on the people in his life is explored and the effect money plays in relationships, friendships and partnerships.
Daisy Keane, Bob's personal assistant and best friend, is to host this luxury cruise along with Harry Montana, the "kind of man you could put in any town in the world and he'd know the best places to go." And because every good beach read is expected to contain sex and sizzle, those "places to go" would include Daisy's cool suite aboard the Blue Boat with "curtains drawn against the afternoon sun." As Adler assembles the characters for the five-day cruise to Capri, including Daisy's best friend Bordelaise, we are treated to the scents, sounds, mist, café's and palazzos of Nice, Venice and Málaga.
The romance between Harry Montana and Daisy Keane sails along slowly but surely. There is no dynamic meeting of the two as in one of Adler's previous novels, THE HOTEL RIVIERA, where Lola Laforêt is privy to a naked man --- the intended love interest --- diving into the cool, blue Mediterranean sea. In a novel with a stop at the port of Saint-Tropez, France, the destination "synonymous with sex, sun, and sand," I would have liked a steamier romance, but Adler chooses to focus more intently on the suspects. "All the suspects were beginning to reveal their true selves. And their motives for murder."
Listed by Concierge.com as one of the World's Sexiest Beaches 2006, and known for topless bathing, leather-skinned Lotharios and pert-breasted starlets, Saint-Tropez is beach chic, the ultimate Mediterranean destination, appropriately spotlighted in SAILING TO CAPRI. Daisy invites best friend Bordelaise for "Beach. Swimming. Lunch. Wine drinking. People watching. Maybe a little light shopping later..." Adler's writing is so vivid that the "ambience of pampered wealth and power" transports the reader to their very own coveted spot on the "umbrella-dotted beach" among the "beautiful people."
Daisy makes a reservation at the infamous Le Club 55, made famous by Brigitte Bardot and her film crew when they were shooting And God Created Woman. Adler provides an insider's experience of what a day on the Riviera among topless Bain de Soleil mistresses and jet-setters at "the classiest and most popular beach club in Saint-Tropez" is like --- pure indulgence mixed with pure sensual pleasure. These scenes were among my favorites.
Equally magnificent is Adler's description of a restaurant in Sorrento. "The inn was swagged in purple bougainvillea, with lemon trees in pots and tables under shady red awnings." The aura, the flora and fauna, and food of the Mediterranean sparkles through the chapters of SAILING TO CAPRI as brilliantly as the sun reflects off the azure waters.
The murderer is an unexpected surprise and the final letters to Bob's guests revealing. As a result of their relationships with Bob, each is given a second chance, courtesy of Bob's will. "Bob was always there with a helping hand when a guy needed it." In the end, a letter from Bob to Daisy affirms the role money can play in a person's life. "Let me tell you what money does. It buys freedom. Freedom from want and freedom from worry. It does not, as they always so rightly say, buy happiness." SAILING TO CAPRI is a sensual beach read, Riviera-style.
Reviewed by Hillary Wagy on January 23, 2011
Sailing to Capri