by Kathryn Smith, historical (2001)
Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-380-81610-5
I have no idea whom Kathryn Smith, debut romance novelist, PO at Avon, but as far as the Harper/Avon book importer in Singapore is concerned, her book doesn't exist. I have to get my sister to order via Amazon for a copy of Elusive Passion, which is why I'm reading this pretty late after its release date. (So can you please stop sending me emails - you know who you are - asking about this book? It's not that good anyway.)
Miles Christian, a Marquess Obligatoria, finds out that his mistress has just been murdered from said mistress' best friend Varya. When Varya holds him at gunpoint, threatening to kill him for the murder. He didn't do it, of course. But he is guilty of instantaneous attraction, for want of a better word, when he pounces on Varya and feels those koochie mamas against his chest. Rest in peace, Bella Mancini, Dead Mistress. Your passing will be lamented. Ahem, where were we again? Ah yes, the mourning lover and the mistress' best friend's kittens.
Varya is high-class pianist who doesn't deserve her reputation. Of course. And she, in her Virtuous Quest for Vengeance for her Best Friend, decides that she has no choice but to play Miles' mistress as they investigate Bella's murder. And since someone has to soothe Miles' pain, our virtuous heroine may as well do that too. But she does feel guilty about it. Whatever.
Now, my main problem stems from the monotonous way the relationship between Varya and Miles go. Round and round they go, with Miles insulting Varya because he thinks she's a bad woman who gives out and then feeling sorry, they make up, repeat and rinse. I really have no idea why Varya is attracted to Miles. Miles' attraction can be explained by typical Madonna/Whore complex as well as - let's face it, which man doesn't want to play where's-my-finger with a woman whose job brands her to be easy? But why on earth would a woman be attracted to be a man who keeps calling her names and insults her all the time? A man who keep insisting that she proves her purity/virtue/whatever? I don't understand Varya, and write her off as another heroine with some twisted code of morals that lets her play a martyr to memory and her sexuality.
And Varya turns out to be blue-blooded and wealthy. Then why the heck is she playing the piano when she doesn't seem to even like her life that much? Plot cliché, anyone?
Elusive Passion doesn't gel. The relationship between the leads lacks a sense of coherence, and the whole story is, in fact, riddled with rather illogical plot twists that seem added for the sake of pleasing conventions than for any added value to the story. I confess that Elusive Passion is a well-written book, but what's the point of polished prose when the story is flawed? The promise is there, but the pleasure remains somewhat elusive. Sorry, I have to say that.
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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