Interesting story, tiresome banter

Temptation Bay (A Windfall Island Novel) - Anna Sullivan
The set up
Maggie Solomon is a charter pilot living in Windfall Island, Maine. Her life changes the moment she picks up her latest client to transport him to the island from nearby Portland. Dexter (Dex) Keegan, a Boston-based private investigator, is posing as a lawyer in order to investigate the possible ancestors of a baby abducted over 80 years ago. They stand to be entitled to a family fortune. Maggie and Dex have an immediate chemistry but she's highly resistant. 

The issues
The island has a history of bootlegging during Prohibition and salvaging, creating a culture where its residents are tight lipped and distrustful of outsiders. Dex has his work cut out for him as no one will open up to him and he can't be forthright about what he's up to. He has to rely on Maggie for help and it's an uphill battle. Their sparring is constant, with relentless back and forth banter as they battle for control in the relationship and denial of their obvious attraction. 

What I liked
The story is very well written, with an intriguing mystery underlying the romance. It is an extremely interesting premise that was mystifying. The style of language seemed authentic to northeast islanders and the descriptions created vivid images in my mind of the setting and lifestyle. Dex and Maggie are also well developed characters as you get a very good sense of who they are that is highly consistent with how they behave and react to each other. Their steamy moments are hot and passionate, connecting them when conversation failed. When Maggie's walls were lowered, their romance worked. 

Where I disconnected
Maggie has a troubled family history that's left her wary, caustic and relationship phobic. Dex is constantly trying to push in and she's got walls that rival Ft. Knox. Their banter was initially clever and entertaining but it went too far and too long. It bogged the story down and I struggled to hang in there with the abrasive Maggie, to the point where it was hard to see what Dex found appealing about her. The first half of the book focused too much on these silly conflicts when the real story was so much more interesting, fighting to rise above dialogue I found tiring. The second half moved at a much better pace when the emphasis was on the mystery and a more adult relationship, saving the story in my opinion. 

The bottom line
Despite my issues with the first half of the book and Maggie, the second half really captured my interest. This would have easily been a 4 or 5 star rated book if those issues I outlined could have been limited to only a third of the story. I have to reemphasize the quality of the writing, however, as it's skillful in all other aspects. The mystery isn't completely resolved but the ending is by no means a cliffhanger. I definitely plan to read the next book in the series. 

(I received an ARC from NetGalley)