cover image When I Wake

When I Wake

Rachel Lee. Forever, $6.99 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-446-60655-4

Life is good for archeologist Veronica Coleridge, until a car accident damages her hearing, kills her unborn child and destroys her marriage. She sinks into a profound depression, broken only by her need to continue her late mother's quest to find a rare tribal mask lost in the wreck of a Spanish ship centuries before. Veronica goes to Key West and hires a boat and diving help from Dugan Gallagher, a dropout from the business fast lane who is now content to run a modest dive company and enjoy la dolce vita. Reluctant to give up three months to what looks like a fruitless quest, Dugan nevertheless agrees to the plan, spurred by a protectiveness he doesn't quite understand. After several months of mingled boredom and sexual tension, the two discover the treasure they're seeking--only to find out that another, more sinister collector wants it, and is prepared to stop at nothing to get it. Though crucial details--the cause of Veronica's hearing loss, the tribe from which the mask comes--are too thinly explained, Lee (Before I Sleep) pleasantly evokes both the joys and the perils of life in and off of the Keys. The book is energized by the evocation of the frustrations of the heroine's hearing loss--material with an unusual edge for an otherwise traditional, even tame, novel of romantic suspense. (Nov.)