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Was there ever a woman as glamorous and complex as Cleopatra Gallier? She’s 44, drop-dead gorgeous, charmingly clever, fabulously wealthy, a martial arts expert, and she lives in a luxurious villa on a stretch of Hawaii’s coastline.

All would seem perfect in Cleo’s world and she puts on her “best game face,” but sadly we learn, she’s traumatized for life after a horrendous childhood assault. Since then, she has kept her distance from others, particularly, men. Well, except for one.

But as Chasing Cleopatra opens, the new novel by American actress Tina Sloan, Cleo’s undercurrents of pent up passion are going to vent. She literally crashes into a young man―a much younger man―with her car―a minor accident, actually. But Cleo finds herself inexplicably and uncontrollably sexually attracted to the young handsome rogue and he is more than willing to reciprocate. Raging hormones on both sides of the sexual divide take over making for some torrid romancing.

So, you think, this is going to be that kind of novel.

Clearly, from the first words, you suspect there is going to be a lot more than “that” in Chasing Cleopatra and you will not be disappointed.

Cleopatra’s lustful affair with young Jake Regan becomes more complex as she discovers his presence in Hawaii is due to a Christmas holiday vacation with his (Norman Rockwellesque) family. Mother and his two brothers have arrived. Jake’s dad is expected to arrive at any moment from yet another far-flung business trip. But the coup d’état is that Jake’s longtime girlfriend, who also is en route, is expecting wedding bells to be announced at the gathering. It becomes obvious that Cleo and Jake’s unrelenting passion will have an impact on the Regan family.

What neither of them can anticipate is how their relationship over the next few days will also force the other members of his family to reveal their own secrets, some of which will open old wounds and create some life-changing events.

One of those secrets will reveal a pending Al Qaeda attack on Pearl Harbor. The other will delve deeply into Cleo’s past and touch her most challenging moment: the death of the only man she ever truly loved. Who would think that one of the Regan family’s secrets would become an existential threat to the life and purpose of Cleopatra Gallier and the Regan family?

The writing is lush, with the perfect amount of details, and the storytelling had this reader turning the pages. The intriguing backstory seems to presage a series of books on the life and times of Cleopatra Gallier. If so, they would make a great addition (with a more contemporary slant) to the reading list for devotees of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and Catriona McPherson’s Dandy Gilver series.

Combining a romance novel with a thriller is not easy, but Chasing Cleopatra delivers the goods with plotting as intricate as a silver spider’s web.