Veronica Coleridge is deaf. Recently deaf. She has lost her husband, her child, her hearing. Veronica hates being deaf, she is still in deep depression over her loss and there is no hope -- her deafness is not going to go away -- her loss of a child she does not talk about.
Her father is dying. He has cancer. To pull Veronica out of her debilitating depression he offers her new information about her mother, about how she died, what she was looking for, information which sparks Veronica into organizing a sea-going archeological dig in the waters off Key West, in Florida, searching for a three hundred year old storm mask, an icon of her ancestors, an passion, an obsession that killed her mother, that threatens to similarly absorb Veronica.
As part of her salvage team she hires Dugan Gallagher, a one time big city businessman, gone troppo. This man kids himself he lives to have a good time. He hates to get wet, loves to sail, has no intention of doing it tough. Or so he says. Trouble is everything he touches turns out okay. Better than okay.
There are bad guys out there. The suspects include folk Dugan has hired. Someone has to protect Veronica from whoever is after the treasure, and from herself.
The idea for this Rachel Lee's WHEN I WAKE romantic suspense is solid. However, the heroine stays self indulgent for too long, the hero comes to care too late. After his initial important appearance Veronica's father disappears stage left and returns too briefly. Villains, who promise much in the beginning, do little but fizzle in the end. Particularly disappointing is the second villain who appears only in evil whispers and whose motivations, intentions, outcomes, even at the end, are never made known.