Heart of the Lilikoi is romantic suspense, with plenty of the usual Dena Hankins flavor. Gender, social justice, steamy sex, colonialism, and the concept of home get a thorough exploration against a background of passion and regret, love and hope.
Heart of the Lilikoi contrasts with Blue Water Dreams in almost as many ways as it is similar. The main characters are older, more mature, and far more sure of what they want. The suspense creates a darker tone, and it’s harder to see how these amazing people are going to end up together.
Here’s the blurb for the back of the book:
Human remains tangled in lilikoi roots bring the authorities to Kerala’s construction site. Native Hawaiians say the passion fruit vine marks an ancient burial ground protected by guardian spirits, the ’aumakua. But these aren’t ancestral bones. The fractured skull points to murder.
Secrets, sabotage, and indigenous sovereignty campaigns hinder the project Kerala leads: building an eco-dream vacation home for Ravi, CEO of a solar power company. Proud to be a tough dyke in the trades, Kerala can’t believe she’s so hot for the masculine genderqueer scientist. Their sexual connection is volcanic, but Ravi’s craving for love and family aggravates burn scars from Kerala’s past. As the lovers pursue justice for Hawaii and its people, Ravi turns his gift for harnessing the sun’s strength toward cultivating his own power, and Kerala wonders if building deep, lasting love could be even more satisfying than constructing a home to last the ages.