Mistress for a Weekend, by Susan Napier

>> Monday, December 11, 2006

Susan Napier is the only Harlequin Presents author I follow, the only one on my... well, not really autobuy list. She's on my list of authors whose books I check for, and see if the storylines might appeal to me. Her latest, out after some 5 years without any new releases, is Mistress for a Weekend.

Nora Lang needs the most dangerous man she can find!

Enter tycoon Blake MacLeod. He normally prefers sophisticated blondes that don't require too much of his brainpower. But Nora's a challenge…the perfect opportunity for a little light relief. Until she acquires some important information that he can't risk being leaked.

Now Blake has to make sure Nora doesn't leave his sight--he'll make love to her for a whole weekend!

Quite nice! Interesting characters, an entertaining, if simple, plot and a sweet romance. A B-.

First of all, disregard the title. Or rather, disregard the first half of it. There's a weekend involved here, but fortunately, considering this is a contemporary, no mistresses.

Nora Lang and Blake MacLeod meet at a party in Auckland, when Nora is on the rebound after finding her long-term boyfriend in bed with her room-mate, an event which did quite a number on her self-esteem. Blake, a well-known business shark seems to her like a good candidate for a fling. As for Blake, unsophisticated Nora is nothing like the women he usually dates, but for some reason, he notices her the minute she arrives at the party and can't help but stare at her in fascination.

Their evening ends in Blake's hotel room, but Nora chickens out before much more than a few passionate kisses are exchanged. Unfortunately, on her way out she accidentally takes a computer disk that belongs to Blake, a disk with some very sensitive business information.

Blake's immediate assumption that Nora is some kind of corporate spy doesn't last long, but whether she's innocent or guilty of spying, her knowledge of the information the disk contains makes her a loose cannon. Blake can't afford to have her on the loose until the information becomes old news, the following Monday, and so what best way to ensure her discretion than to practically kidnap her and have her spend the weekend at his isolated beach house?

What I like about Napier is that her characters always have a little "extra" to them. That is, she writes them in such a way, gives their personalities such quirks and individuality that they feel three-dimensional.

Blake is much more than Mr. Arrogant Business-Mogul. He's got a sense of humour, for starters, a dry, wry one that had me smiling often. And then there's the way Napier gives this unrepentant capitalist a very interesting history, with an upbringing among a family of activists with very developed social consciences. The nonetheless fond relationship he has with his family, despite their differences, added even more dimensions to him.

Nora is a bit less distinct, but still someone I enjoyed reading about. Her history with her ex-boyfriend rang true, and so did her reactions when she discovered the cheating.

The romance was also good. There really isn't a lot of melodrama here, because the whole deal with Blake believing Nora is a spy disappears pretty immediately. After that, there isn't that much conflict between them, even if Nora isn't too happy about Blake's actions in keeping her a virtual prisoner in his beach house. The thing is, she knows he doesn't think she's guilty and knows that she'll only have to stay there for a couple of days, so she takes the situation with resignation. And this makes the romance more believable, I thought, because she really has no reason to hate Blake and resist her attraction to him.

So, basically, this book is mind candy. Not particularly nutritious of fulfilling, but it's nice to have some, every now and then.


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