by Madeline Hunter, historical (2011)
Jove, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-515-14934-0
Dangerous In Diamonds is the final book in the author's The Rarest Blooms quartet, and unfortunately, this one doesn't work well as a standalone book. This story pairs two recurring characters in previous books - Tristan, the Duke of Castleford, and Daphne Joyes, the woman who manages the florist/home for wayward women called Rarest Blooms - and you won't get much back story about them in this one. Then again, this book doesn't work too well as part of a quartet because the author has simply morphed those characters into her trademark hero and heroine archetype and resorted to artificial contrivances to make such a mismatched pairing work.
In this story, Castleford inherits Roses In Bloom, which he then uses as a leverage to try to get into Daphne's bloomers. Daphne is aware that she is in a precarious position, as she is powerless to fight Castleford when it comes to getting the property and she is really going to have to tread carefully to make sure that she doesn't let him manipulate him into any sexual situation where he can take advantage of her lower social status. Isn't this romantic? Don't you just love it when a man tries to force his way into the heroine's bloomers? It shows that he is really crazy about her, you know. Of course, Daphne knows that Castleford is actually a good guy because he hates the same guy that she does. Daphne also mutates into a twit here - she talks a lot but her brainpower takes a nosedive in this story - which allows Castleford to use his status and wealth to come to her rescue often. Oh, baby, it's really love.
This story is so artificial because the author never really gives me a good reason to believe why these two people can fall in love. Instead, she creates situations to force these two together, right from the moment when Castleford inherits the property that Daphne lives in. Daphne needs Castleford here as she can't get things done, and somehow along the way this need transmutes into love. There are plenty of sex scenes here but I'm sure we all know that you can have great sex with the most wrong person in the world - that doesn't mean you are going to have a great married life with that person. These sex scenes are often the result of contrivances. I am to believe that none of Daphne's former wards will be worried that she's running off with this rogue - they are too busy running off to have sex with their husbands in the middle of parties and leaving her alone with Castleford, believe it or not.
Castleford was such a disreputable rake with a bad attitude previously, but here, he morphs into a typical self-entitled privileged chimp that the author has written many times before. It's the same with Daphne - here. she is another heroine placed in a position of weakness and forced to be dependent on the hero. Of course she loves Castleford - the author doesn't give her any other option here.
The plot also has a "cobbled together" feel, one where the author seems to be making things up as she goes along. The subplot about the villain peters out weakly, plot threads are brought up and apparently forgotten, and then there is this bizarre last minute twist where the heroine pulls out something out of her womanly bits and offers a weak and even illogical justification for her antics.
Dangerous In Diamonds is an uninspired and boring story. This one feels like a brain fart, with plot elements that don't mesh together well, characters that are forced into stock archetypes of the author's previous books, and a romance that is heavier on the sex scenes and lighter on believable emotions. Then again, it's hard to make any romance that is based on sexual harassment and forced dependency work. But the author doesn't even seem to have tried here, sigh.
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
Search for more reviews of works by this author: