Dancing on the Wind, by Mary Jo Putney

>> Friday, July 23, 2004

Dancing on the Wind, by Mary Jo Putney, is the second book in the Fallen Angels series, one of my all time favourites.

Like his namesake, Lucifer, Lord Strathmore is known for unearthly beauty and diabolical cleverness. A tragic past has driven him to use his formidable talents to protect his country from secret enemies, and it is a job he does superlatively well—until he meets a mysterious woman whose skill at deception equals his own. By turns glamorous and subdued, reckless yet vulnerable, his enchanting adversary baffles his mind even as she captures his heart.

A perilous mission has forced Kit Travers into a deadly game of everchanging identities and needful lies, where a single misstep might cost her her life. But her disguises are easily penetrated by the Earl of Strathmore. Unwilling to trust, yet unable to part, they join forces to search the dangerous underside of London society. Yet even two master deceivers cannot escape from passion's sensual web—or from an impossible love more precious than life itself...
This one's not my favourite of the series, but it's still excellent. A B+.

The Fallen Angels series and Dancing on the Wind in particular have many features that have become clichéd. There's the group of friends from school, with the suitably dark name, there's the hero with a nickname like Lucifer, there's the now ubiquitous spy... and yet, it feels fresh here. It makes all the difference that this was very definitely not clichéd at that time. I believe, actually, that this series was part of the inspiration for some of these elements to become so common.

The book has two very distinct parts. The first part, which features Lucien's cat and mouse pursuit of a mysterious woman who is seemingly present in every ocasion when he's trying to spy on the Hellfire club members. I loved this section, which lasts over half the book, when Lucien still doesn't know, or isn't sure of who Kit is, and this is driving him mad.

The second part, once Kit tells Lucien everything about her sister's disappearance and he decides to help her, is still good, but not as excellent. It will sound shallow, but I think that part of it is that by that time they've already made love, so the yummy sexual tension which made the first part so amazing, has dispelled quite a bit. Sure, they're still crazy about each other, but it was less interesting.

I especially liked Lucien. He's always kind and corteous to Kit , even when frustrated lust gets him angry enough that he demands Kit have sex with him. I always find it especially appealing when the hero has been discriminating in his past sexual experiences, and I enjoyed this about Lucien. He experiences a kind of depression after any meaningless sexual experience, so this means he's lately been almost monkish, having sex only when he can't stand it any more. Something else that I liked was that even though he's had some traumatic experiences in his past, he's remarkably stable and untortured. He's pretty low-key, no drama queen here!

Kit I also liked very much. She's competent. She knows what she's doing and can take care of herself (mostly), and her plans do make sense. She has to work with certain limitations, granted, which Lucien doesn't have, but she does the best she can to find out the truth about what has happened to her sister. Oh, and she can lie quite well without batting an eyelid and without torturing herself about it. This ties in with what I said about her being competent. She's decided to embark on a plan which requires her to lie, so she does what she needs to do. Period. She does get a little tedious near the end of the book, with her insistence on illogically doubting Lucien, but I chalk it up to some twin thing I don't get as a non-twin.

I thought the suspense element in the book was good. It set up the scenario for Lucien and Kit's romance nicely, and it was interesting in it's own right, especially the ending, with its very exciting final confrontation. Remember this comes from a reader who usually regards suspense subplots as something to be endured, not enjoyed, so this is quite an exception.


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