The Mistress Deception & No Reprieve, by Susan Napier

>> Tuesday, March 20, 2007

In an effort to get caught up (I'm about 20 books behind right now), a 2-for-1 deal. We've got two Susan Napier books today, The Mistress Deception and No Reprieve.

Let's start with The Mistress Deception, a 1999 book.

When Rachel had offered to help Matthew Riordan undress after a party her intentions had been purely innocent. She'd been trying to avoid a scandal -- instead, she found herself being blackmailed!

Yet, Matthew oozed sex appeal. He simply didn't need to blackmail Rachel into his bed! Or was this some kind of revenge plan because Rachel had clashed with him over a business deal? Matthew certainly wanted Rachel as his mistress. But was he driven by desire -- or deception?
Hmm, what a quandary. It seems a shame to give away this book's plot, because part of the fun at the beginning is discovering what the hell is going on. But if I don't say anything, people will assume that the back cover copy actually describes what happens, and that couldn't be farther from the truth.

Ok, just forget that awful title and back cover copy, at least the second paragraph. What mistress? What blackmailing into his bed and into being his mistress? What clash over a business deal? All come only from the fertile mind of whoever writes these things at Harlequin.

To give you a very vague idea of the plot, it involves apparently compromising photos of a situation that was actually perfectly innocent. Someone is trying to cause trouble with them, and at first, Matthew thinks Rachel is trying to blackmail him, while Rachel thinks it's exactly the opposite. And while trying to straighten out the situation, they end up falling in love.

It doesn't sound particularly interesting, but what makes the book good is that the characters have a high degree of individuality. They and, especially, their history have plenty of quirks that make them different from the usual.

And in Matthew's case, there's something very remarkable. It would be a spoiler to say, so just highlight the following if you want to know:

[[What we have here, ladies and gentlemen, is a virgin widower. Yep, you read that right, a virgin widowER; Matt, not Rachel is the virgin, and I completely bought the explanation of why he was one. Napier reveals this at just the right point, too, and like it happened in the other one of her books with a virgin hero, it made me rethink some of the previous scenes and go "ahhh, now I understand!"]]

Anyway, this was one of the better Napiers that I've read. The characters are interesting, the plot is pretty good and there's plenty of chemistry and steam. A B.

Now, No Reprieve, from almost 10 years earlier, was a very different book.

Seven faced a real problem

It didn't really matter to the quiet librarian that her Aunt Jane had become Madam Zoe, medium and spiritualist. Nor that she often enlisted Seven's aid.

But that was before Jake Jackson's mother wanted Madam Zoe to trace her missing grandchild. Jake, editor and owner of a crusading newspaper, wanted no part in their plan.

Seven knew that any future she dreamed of with Jake was in jeopardy. Trying to extricate Aunt Jane while maintaining her own anonymity was going to be next to impossible. Especially when this forceful abrasive man turn up at every corner...
For starters, No Reprieve (I started to write "NR", but that will forever be "Nora Roberts" to me) has much more of a plot, and it's one that could have been excellent, if done right.

The heroine, Seven, is psychic, but for years, she's been trying to block out the outside world. She doesn't read the paper, or watch TV, or do anything that might trigger her visions. One day, while throwing away some years-old newspapers in her Aunt Jane's house, she sees a photo of a missing child, and gets a flash telling her that the girl is just fine. Seven isn't particularly bothered by this vision because she assumes that since she got this particular feeling, it means the case was resolved favourably. She mentions it to her aunt, and leaves it at that.

Aunt Jane, however, doesn't leave it at that. She checks it out, and discovers the girl is still missing. So what does she do? Well, that stupid old bitch has been pretending to be a psychic, using Seven's occasional comments. So she goes to the girl's grandmother and tells her she had this vision of her child and asks her for money to help find little Rebecca. And when the girl's father, who turns out to be this cynical tabloid owner, finds out, the shit really hits the fan.

This could have been really good, because both Seven and Jake are interesting characters (quite individual, just as Rachel and Matthew in the book above) and the plot had potential. However...

For a book that has at its heart the search for a missing little girl, the book is weirdly not about the efforts to do so. Seven's actions to find Rebecca are very unfocused. I kept wondering why she didn't try harder. For instance, we discover after a while that being in the girl's former room might trigger visions. And yet she doesn't do this until days after she becomes involved in the case. Both she and Jake seem curiously leisurely about the whole thing.

And then there's Aunt Jane. I HATED her, I truly did. I thought she should be shot for her cruelty and the way she courted publicity no matter what the consequences to Jake and his mother and to Seven. She seemed like a child in her selfishness and her lack of concern about the consequences of her actions, and yet, though Seven and Jake did disapprove of her behaviour, they seemed to find it, at worst, mildly reprehensible.

My grade for this one is a C.


Post a Comment

Blog template by

Back to TOP