When Lacey Whitman buys a restored Victorian home, she never dreams discovering an antique diary will lead her back to sea and into the arms of the dive bum she’d rather forget.
Her habit of living in the past comes to a screeching halt as diver Max Bertrand and the diary of his ancestor take Lacey on the quest of a lifetime: To discover and raise the privateer ship, Specter, and bring the treasure and legacy of a true hero home again. But will finding it cost her heart?
Sitting outside, one of the divers looked busy replacing the o-ring on a scuba tank.
"I'm looking for Max?"
The long haired employee didn't bother to stand, much less look up.
"I'm Lacey Whitman, and I'm looking for the Max that owns the museum."
"You call that worthless shack a museum?"
Dumbfounded, Lacey couldn't think of any reply.
"What do you want?"
"I'm looking for Max," she repeated, feeling a flash of impatience. "I have some papers for him."
"Warrant, restraining order, or paternity test?"
After a pause in which she realized he was serious, she replied in frustration, "I have some research for the Bertrand family and someone at the museum told me to come down here."
Lacey caught herself biting her lip.
Finally, the man of absolutely no assistance put down the tank and stood up. Short and compact, he had amazing turquoise eyes that glowed from a dark, tanned complexion. Loose strands of sun-kissed brown hair blew about his face in the breeze.
"Max doesn't need anymore paperwork. He doesn't want to see your research, and he is not giving dive lessons."
"I didn't ask for a dive lesson."
The diver sat back down again, crossing thick tattooed arms over himself. They stared one another down until he won. It was cheating to look her over as if she was a sweet little morsel, but it worked.
"I just want to talk to Max," she demanded.
He stared back with no expression. "You just did. Now get off my beach."
Lacey's cheeks were already flushed from getting the once over by this beach bum. His insult made her red all over.
"I'll be sure to let them know at the Bertrand Museum," she threatened, as if it mattered.
She turned on her heel and stalked off but he called after her, "Lady, I am the Bertrand Museum!"
Posted by Sally Pink Reviews on 14th Feb 2013
"By Heart and Compass" has a little bit of everything in it – friendship, romance, adventure, and a healthy dose of pirate treasure. Lacey Whitman is a genealogist who has traced the descendants of privateer Julius Bertrand down through the decades. This research has led her to the Goss House. When she discovers an amazing find on the property, she's in for the adventure of a lifetime.
The novel opens with Lacey returning to Newton, GA, where she grew up. Lacey has bought an old house, the Goss House. Her friend, Jeanine welcomes her back. Lacey is excited about the purchase because Molly Goss was a descendant of Julius Bertrand, pirate turned privateer in the 1720's.
While exploring her new house, Lacey discovers clues which leads her to a secret – she uncovers Kate Bertrand's diary, (Julius's wife) and several uncut diamonds. Kate's diary reveals the location of her husband's prized ship, The Specter.
With Jeanine's support, Lacey reaches out to Max Bertrand, a great, great grandson (many times over) of Julius. Max is a good looking guy, but as crusty as an old salt and rather abrupt and distrustful of Lacey. Lacey, however, manages to convince him to enter into a partnership to salvage The Specter.
Lacey travels to Antigua and meets Max's crew. They take Max's boat, Layla, out to the coordinates and find a sunken ship. Max comes to trust Lacey.
Unfortunately, Lacey held back the fact she found diamonds with the diary. When Max finds out, he's livid. Can Lacey build the shattered trust that took so hard to earn from Max?
Thorne's plot is tight. The story never lingers, moving ahead at a good clip, keeping the reader engaged. Thorne's research and personal knowledge gives the story authenticity. The novel uses a good economy of words to paint a clear, crisp setting for the reader.
Lacey and Max are both dynamic characters. Through Jeanine's eyes we learn that Lacey was picked on in high school earning the nickname "goober." Now, she's blossomed into a clever, intelligent woman full of optimism and has a can-do attitude. She's just what Max needs.
Max has had a difficult childhood. His mother proved herself a gold-digger after leaving his father and taking all of his money. Since, then, Max does not give his trust easily or quickly, it has to be earned through deeds.
The story is sensual for romance readers with Max and Lacey sharing kisses and tender embraces. By Heart and Compass demonstrates the power of following the heart's compass.