Dangerous Passion, by Lisa Marie Rice

>> Wednesday, September 09, 2009

TITLE: Dangerous Passion
AUTHOR: Lisa Marie Rice

PAGES: 320

SETTING: Contemporary US
TYPE: Romantic Suspense
SERIES: No, standalone

REASON FOR READING: Autoread author

Feelings kill faster than bullets.

That is Drake's creed. A legend, a renegade, a ruthless, powerful enigma understood by no one and feared by all, Viktor "Drake" Drakovich heads up a billion-dollar empire - and shows no mercy to the many enemies who would stop at nothing to destroy him. He is a man with no love and no weakness, until...

Grace Larsen takes Drake's breath away the first time he sees her - and quickly becomes his obsession. Never before has he burned for someone the way he desires this hauntingly beautiful artist who is plagued by troubling dreams. He aches to possess her, to protect her, to carry her to new heights of sensuous arousal and rapturous release.

But entering Drake's world means becoming a target - for relentless, bloodthirsty foes have been eagerly waiting for him to expose his weak spot. And the price of their passion may be their lives.
Viktor "Drake" Drakovich grew up rough on the streets of Odessa. From those unpromising beginnings, he fought and struggled and built an empire based on what he best knew growing up: dealing in weapons. He's cold and invulnerable and there are absolutely no chips in his armour. Or there weren't, until he saw Grace Larson's art and caught a glimpse of her in her friend's gallery.

Over a year, Drake has purchased every single one of Grace's paintings, and every week he sneaks out and hides in an alley to catch a glimpse of her when she delivers her paintings to the gallery. Unfortunately, his enemies have found out about this and try to use Grace to get at him, resulting in Drake having to barricade himself in his luxury Manhattan flat with her.

It's vintage LMR stuff, with Drake wonderfully enthralled by Grace and worshipping the ground she walks on. He's possessive and protective and would literally cut off his own arm rather than hurt her (and with a LMR hero, when I say literally in this case, I do mean literally). He's never felt anything even remotely like this with another woman, but being with Grace fulfills him and gives him peace, and he's willing to do anything to keep her with him. He even plots and plans and thinks that he needs to have sex with her as much as possible to bind her to him. Total guilty pleasure for me, but I've long accepted with this author that she can make me like this sort of thing, which would result in a wall-banger with other authors.

Unfortunately, something else that's also vintage LMR is annoying me more and more with every book, and that's the mysoginy of her heroes. That is fast getting old. Drake has nothing but contempt for every woman other than Grace. Every single other woman on planet Earth. They're vain and selfish and mercenary. They're unattractive... hard, rather than soft (as every man wants). They have boob jobs (the horror of it!). He just fucks them, never bothers to pay attention to their faces. You get the picture.

I get that part of the power of Drake falling in love with Grace is that it's so unlike him. He falls so completely, and it's wholly unfamiliar to him, because he's never come close. I think that's what the mysoginy was about, just about making his feelings for Grace more unique and unlikely and powerful, but IMO, there were other ways of doing it. Ways that wouldn´t have made me, at least, resent Drake. Every time he started going on in his mind about how awful other women were because they looked at a man's watch and shoes before they even looked at his face, in my mind, I'd go "Yes, well, you're an arms dealer, you have no right to judge anyone!".

Which brings me to the other problem I had with the book, which was the very off-hand way the author treated Drake's business dealings, as if the fact that he runs an illegal arms dealing empire were no big deal. And let's remember that if a country or organisation needs to resort to illegal channels to purchase its weapons, it's for a reason.

I just had to shake my head at the rationalisations. At the beginning, Grace doesn't know what Drake does, but he's clearly a dangerous man, involved in what looks like very unsavoury business. So she says to him "Please tell me this isn't about drugs". That's the only thing that she couldn't tolerate. Oh, no, she and the readers are assured, Drake abhors the stuff and would never do something like that. He's just an arms dealer. That's muuuuuch better, clearly.

Unfortunately, for me it wasn't that clear. What would bother me about having a drug dealer as a hero would be that he's trafficking in something illegal, so apart from the fact that he's breaking the law, the things he'd need to do to protect such an empire would be abhorent to me. Same as with an arms dealer, really, only that if all dealing in both drugs and arms were legal, then I would be much better disposed to read about drugs dealer than an arms dealer. Just a crazy preference of mine... those harmed by drugs would be people who ultimately made a decision to get involved with them. Those harmed by arms, did not make any sort of decision, they just live in the wrong country at the wrong time.

So did I like the book on the whole? The issues above weren't easy to ignore, especially the slagging off of other women, because those bits tended to be stuck in between worshipful thoughts about Grace. Still, I could mostly tamp down my irritation and enjoy what I liked. The romance was good, especially because I thought Grace was a pretty good character, sensible and smart. I got the feeling Drake was too busy worshipping her as some sort of immaculate image of perfection to much notice the woman underneath all that, but at the same time, I thought when the heroine-worship faded away, he'd probably be quite happy with what was left.

I also thought the suspense was well done, with an antagonist (not a villain, really, because he wasn't evil, really, and didn't actually do anything Drake wouldn't do) who was very believable, with understandable and convincing motivations. His plan was smart, and I liked that in the end, it was Grace who saved the day.

Dangerous Passion reminded me of Secluded, a short story of this author's in the Secrets Vol. 9 anthology. Like Secluded, it has a very dangerous hero who brings danger to the heroine, a luxury penthouse setting and even the heroine saving the day element.

MY GRADE: This is hard. Maybe a B for the romance, but the elements I disliked drag it down to a C+. If you think you won't mind them, then you'll probably think it's more of a B.


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