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Under the Boardwalk    by Carly Phillips order for
Under the Boardwalk
by Carly Phillips
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2004 (2004)

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* *   Reviewed by Rashmi Srinivas

Ariana Costas, a Vermont college professor, returns home when she learns that her twin sister Zoe is missing, presumed dead. Before long, bullets fly when someone mistakes Ari for Zoe, and only the quick response of casino manager Quinn Donovan saves her life. This alluring stranger's vague and cagey reassurances about Zoe's well-being, and instructions that Ari return post-haste to Vermont, only make her more determined to find the truth. She takes up a job at the casino where Zoe was working just before she disappeared.

Comprehending Ari's reasons, while not at all pleased by them, Quinn keeps a close eye on her. Proximity soon gives way to uneasy and uncontrollable attraction. Ari doesn't know whether to trust Quinn he's secretive one moment, and championing troubled teenagers the next. Quinn feels the same about Ari her concern for her sister is at odds with her estrangement from her family and its penchant for small-time cons. Searing passion, growing intimacy and a suspenseful countdown further complicate the situation.

Under the Boardwalk has a lot of hilarity thanks to the shameless shenanigans of the conniving Costas clan, who appear to be a quirky amalgamation of the Addams family and the Portokaloses from My Big Fat Greek Wedding! Characters' flaws and conflicts make them seem natural, while Ari and Quinn's gradually growing relationship is both passionate and very emotional. Vagaries of the heart are compounded by criminal activities and there's always suspense in the background.

Carly Phillips presents readers with yet another charming tale of sex, secrecy, suspense and self-evaluation, as in-depth as it is entertaining, a romance which also delivers a far-ranging lesson of acceptance.

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