Silhouette in Scarlet, by Elizabeth Peters

>> Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Ok, finally catching up with some books a read a while ago. Lately the reviews of the books I finish have practically been writing themselves, so there are two or three titles I read last month that have been left behind. One of them is the third in Elizabeth Peters's Vicky Bliss series. Though actually, Silhouette in Scarlet is only the second book in which Vicky and her love interest, Sir John Smythe, appear together.

One perfect rose and one perfectly mysterious plane ticket to Stockholm have American art historian and sleuth Vicky Bliss off to Sweden and over her pretty head (and at 5'11" that's deep) in danger. Her former lover, the sexy bad boy of the antiquities world, Sir John Smythe, has set her up for a rendezvous with trouble, not romance. Before Vicky can say Leif Eriksson, she's being courted by a dashing Viking, shadowed by an elderly silhouette cutter, and whisked away by limousine to an island mansion in search of long-lost Nordic treasure. Vicky never suspects that her life may depend on finding it—or that her feminine urge to kill the rascally Sir John may lead to his murder, at someone else's hand...
Smart, sexy and incredibly funny, SIS is excellent. A B+.

As the book opens we find out that, as John promised Vicky at the end of Street of the Five Moons, he did keep in touch, after a fashion. And "after a fashion" means in such a way that Vicky was left extremely pissed off with him (the little rat ran out on her after a romantic weekend in Paris, sticking her with both the hotel bill and the questions of some angry policemen).

So when Vicky receives a box from him containing one rose, a plain ticket to Stockholm and a mysterious message reading "Wieland Fabrica", she's not inclined to go running after him. But she does need a vacation, and she's not one to throw away a perfectly valid plain ticket just out of spite, so she decides she's going. She'll simply go on holiday, she thinks, and refuse to get involved in whatever scam John wants to involve her in.

But refusing to get involved isn't so easy, and soon Vicky is mixed up in something that has gone out of control, involving Viking treasure, a gang of criminals, a mysterious silhouette cutter and a poor old gentleman who thinks he's her cousin Gustaf.

The mystery is fascinating, the secondary characters are brilliant (and extremely funny), but as always, it's Vicky and John who carry the book with their relationship. And they are in top form here. I love Vicky more with every book. I love how she's not anyone's fool and how the usually very smooth John can never really know what to expect from her and has had to accept that his attempts at manipulation will probably not have the expected effects.

And, as always, I especially appreciate how she's so self-aware and, try as she might, can never really convince herself that her motives are anything other than what they are. When she's being petty, Vicky knows she's being petty, and she accepts that about herself, without making up her mind that she's doing such and such a thing for a more noble reason. I find that very attractive in a character.

Vicky and John are incredible together. Their interactions are very romantic, but not in a sappy, schmaltzy way. As they poke fun at themselves and each other, you can just see their feelings shining through. They see each other extremely clearly (Vicky on John: "He isn’t a very successful thief. He’s smart enough, and God knows he’s tricky, but he is also a dedicated coward. When he hears the heavy footsteps of cops or competitors thundering toward him, he drops everything and runs. That may not seem like an attractive quality, but it is actually one of John’s more appealing traits. If everybody were as reluctant to inflict or endure pain, there wouldn’t be any wars, or muggings of helpless little old ladies.") and are crazy about one another anyway, and that's my idea of romance!

Oh, also, as in every single book in this series, I absolutely loved the setting. This was special, though. I don't know why, but there's something about Sweden that has always fascinated me, and I loved visiting Stockholm and some of the countryside with Vicky. You just don't get many romances (or romantic fiction, at any rate) set in contemporary (-ish) Sweden!

Off to get Trojan Gold from my shelves now. That one was always my favourite in the series, and I can't wait to see if it still is!


Post a Comment

Blog template by

Back to TOP