The Love Conspiracy, by Susan Napier

>> Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Anyone who's been reading my blog for a while will know that Susan Napier is the only Harlequin Presents author I read regularly. Her books always have some element of freshness, even when she uses the most contrived plot twists possible. This week I read The Love Conspiracy, one of the books Sybil was kind enough to send me.

The uncertainty was unnerving

Kat had cheerfully accepted her friend Todd's invitation to stay at the family home for the weekend - during which his Uncle Daniel was to announce his engagement.

Only slowly did it dawn on Kat that she was the pawn in another game altogether. A game complicated by the incandescent flame that erupted between herself and Daniel Bishop.

His eyes were dangerous, the curve of his mouth a threat - but of what? Kat wasn't sure. For Daniel's cool, cultured facade covered the soul of a ruthless buccaneer.
This was, unfortunately, the first Napier I've truly disliked. It was a D+.

In The Love Conspiracy, the author takes a classic HP plot and gives it some tweaks. The heroine gets invited by a rich friend to his house for the weekend. Unbeknownst to her, her friend has lied to his family and they all think she's his girlfriend and, of course, they all consider her unsuitable. Especially one member in particular of her friend's household. That can be an older brother or an uncle, as in this case. No matter, that guy has to be an older, staid-ish, responsible man, who finds himself captivated by the lively heroine and does all he can to seduce her. So the confict is always, from the heroine's POV, that she feels this guy is pursuing her only to separate her from her supposed boyfriend.

I started out by liking this book. Kat was very strong and refused to be cowed by the very rich Bishops. She plays with them, and they richly deserve it, IMO.

However, I'm afraid I never did warm up to Daniel. He's much too domineering and cruel, a right bastard, in fact. There's even a scene in which he actually slaps Kat. It came right after Kat had slapped him, and it wasn't a particularly hard slap, more like a warning that he wouldn't be tolerating any tantrums, but as far as I'm concerned, I don't care. It's one of my hot buttons. A guy who'd hit a woman, unless we're talking about a woman who's really trying to do bodily harm to him, is no hero to me.

I also hated how once they finally fall into bed, he keeps trying to make Kat his mistress (yes, he actually uses the term). Kat does resist this and refuses, prefering to be just his "lover", but what I really wanted her to do was to tell him to go fuck himself. He deserved it. There's some kind of half-hearted explanation at the end of the book about how it wasn't really this way, but I didn't buy it.

In this particular case, Napier's tweaks didn't really work. The thing about what Todd's plans were exactly when he asked Kat to pretend to be his girlfriend made no sense, and neither did Daniel actually having this wild past. It just didn't go with his rigidness and made me dislike him even more.

Does anyone have any recs for Napier? I'd like to decide which of hers to read next. Sybil sent me a huge pile of them, so whatever book you name, it'll probably be in my TBR.


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