When Ellie Birdsong, an ambitious young real estate developer, is sent from Atlantic City to Puerto Rico to “charm the panties off” landowner Carla Valdez, the last thing she expects is to be seduced by the lush island, Carla’s two troubled adopted young sons, and Carla herself.
But in her quest to buy Carla’s sprawling beachfront property on the Caribbean and turn it into a gambling resort, Ellie learns to love the land and its people. As she tours bustling marketplaces, rugged mountains, and historic sites she experiences the culture clash between rich and poor, between tradition and progress, and runs into fierce opposition from the Independentistas fighting to banish American influence from the island.
As Ellie’s love and respect for Carla grows, their relationship is threatened by a ruthless gangster who also wants Carla’s land, by jealousy and romantic rivalry, and by the disappearance of Carla’s younger son. Torn between ambition and her growing feelings for Carla, Ellie chooses ambition, forfeiting Carla’s trust and becoming her “beloved enemy.” Ultimately, she is swept into the net of criminal activity and lethal violence that threatens to destroy them all.