by Candace Camp, historical (2007)
HQN, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-373-77136-3
A Dangerous Man features a big misunderstanding story in its first half while a mystery caper predominates in its second half. There is a romantic relationship between the hero and the heroine, of course, but it has to fight for space with the mystery in the second half or so of the story. This is one of those books that I'm afraid I'd have to consider a half-baked romantic suspense that delivers neither romance nor suspense in a satisfying manner.
Before you ask, yes, in this one, the heroine moves from her late husband to her... what's the word, uncle-in-law? The hero is the brother of the mother of the heroine's husband. You want me to repeat that again?
Eleanor Townsend Scarbrough returns to England shortly after attending her late husband Edmund's funeral pyre in Naples, Italy. Unfortunately, her mother-in-law is far from happy to see her, being that she was against the marriage of Eleanor and Edmund in the first place. Honoria asks her brother Anthony, Lord Neale, to confront Eleanor upon Eleanor's return because Honoria is convinced that her son was murdered by Eleanor.
Anthony knows that his sister is one apoplexy short of turning into Mrs Bates where her son was concerned but this stupid man has issues that he projects onto Eleanor. Therefore, he's not sure if he disagrees with his sister about Eleanor. You see, having encountered his daddy's third wife (who was a whore, slut, et cetera), Anthony is now convinced that every beautiful woman is a slutty gold-digger, the whorishness of such women being directly proportional to the degree of his arousal that was caused by these women. Because he is very aroused by Eleanor, therefore, it is only reasonable that he knows that she is the biggest whore in the universe.
Actually, Eleanor and Anthony had met before, when Honoria sent him to pay off Eleanor from marrying Edmund all those years ago. Therefore, when these two meet again, both of them are not happy to see each other at all. Of course, they are also driven into extreme degrees of randiness in the proximity of the other person, because the romance has to begin in some way. Even when it seems as if someone is trying to go through Eleanor's possessions in search of something, Anthony is convinced that she's just trying to fool him into thinking that she's a nice lady. After all, he's still getting all randy in her presence, which is clearly a sign that she's pure harlotry in motion.
Don't worry, folks, Anthony's charming obduracy lasts for only half the book or so, so it's just half a headache for me instead of a full-blown migraine. In fact, Ms Camp is quite aware of what a stupid fool Anthony is and that scene where Anthony gets a figurative punch in the gut when he realizes that he's the fool for thinking the worst of Eleanor is pretty well done. I like that he blames himself for his own foolishness instead of trying to justify his initial mistrust of Eleanor in any way. However, after the two characters decide to kiss and make up, the story then plunges head deep into the mystery of what Eleanor must be in possession of to make her a target of sinister break-in attempts and, later, attempts on her life. Could it be due to something Edmund did before he died in his "accident" in Naples?
Eleanor is in her own right a pretty decent heroine who can think for herself and take care of herself to a certain degree. Her marriage to Edmund was not due to love, but to Eleanor's credit, she's fond enough of Edmund. She was Edmund's mother, biggest fan, and cheerleader all in one, so it's not as the marriage was a stereotypical sterile and loveless one. Anthony, once he gets over his "I hate beautiful women" issues, is also a decent hero. Unfortunately, by the time they begin to get along very well, the author focuses mainly on the mystery. Romantic developments between those two end up mostly being sex scenes of the "Oh, we just had a grand soul-baring conversation about our sad pasts - let's have sex while we are still in our emo mode!" variety. As a result, I find it hard to believe that these two are as deeply in love as the author claims they are. In lust, now that I can believe, but in love, not really.
I won't mind if the mystery subplot is interesting, but unfortunately, it isn't. The mystery is a typical half-baked one common in historical romances. The two characters wander around looking for clues until they end up stumbling upon the big clue that leads them to a confrontation with the villain who of course tells them everything about the Plot.
With dull romance and uninteresting suspense, A Dangerous Man ends up being a well-written story that is unfortunately also too much on the dry and dull side for me.
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