Port of Paradise, by Lisa Marie Rice

>> Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Port of Paradise: my last Lisa Marie Rice. Until I can find the Secrets anthology where her story is published, at any rate. *sob*. Why can't she have a longer backlist? I'm going to try her Elizabeth Jennings mysteries anyway, but I believe those don't have the hot romance her LMR titles do.

Hope Winston is in Italy running a school for her best friend, Kay Summers. But helping Kay has put her life in danger. Hope doesn't want protection and she doesn't want help. She doesn't want anyone, particularly not devastatingly sexy Capitano Franco Rivers, head of the elite anti-mafia squad. Hope hates cops. So how did she end up sleeping with one?

Hope Winston is the most delectable woman Franco Rivera has ever seen.

There's only one problem. Hope keeps sticking her pretty little nose in trouble. She needs a keeper. And Franco Rivera is just the man to keep her...

In his bed.
From the copyrights, I see this one's an earlier book than the ones I read first, and while it's pretty good, a B, I think she's improved with each book. Which means, of course, that there's no way I'm missing her next title, since it's bound to be spectacular!

A lot of Port of Paradise was wonderful. The hero, the setting, the plot, they were all very enjoyable. Unfortunately, the heroine was the fly in this particular soup. In the first part of the book, especially, her constant TSTL behaviour really grated on me.

There she was, chasing after the bad guy at her house, checking out a noise in the dark, not bothering to wake up the cop sleeping in the next room (a guy on guard duty, no less!), refusing to leave the house just because, even when it's getting really dangerous, and so on and so on. She even showed very bad judgment during the first love scene: "no, you don't need a condom, I'm on the pill". Suicidal idiot, you've just met the man!

And then there was Hope's cop phobia, which, even after knowing all the details about the aftermath of her stepdad's murder, seemed a bit much. I would have understood something like that intellectually she knows all cops aren't like the ones who suspected her after her stepfather's death, but she still can't help being afraid. But it's not like this at all. In Hope's case, she firmly believes all cops are violent brutes, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.

Fortunately, Hope does outgrow this behaviour as the story progresses, and I enjoyed the book more and more. And of course, Franco is a lovely hero and the relationship between these two has Rice's trademark heat and tenderness. As all her heroes, Franco is completely focused on Hope from the minute he sees her, and he's relentless in his pursuit. I enjoy betas as much as anyone (more than most people, actually), but seeing Franco's fascination and his determination to have a serious relationship with Hope did make my heart flutter!

And I must not forget to mention the setting. I absolutely loved it. Rice actually lives in Italy, and her descriptions ring true. I could just see it all in my mind, especially because I'd seen a special program about the Puglia region on the BBC a few days earlier, and I had all those lovely images right there, ready to be called up. I've said it before, but I really think Europe is very under-utilized as a setting for contemporaries. I'd love to see more of them.

Oh, and the suspense was fine. As I said in my post about Woman on the Run, LMR's suspense subplots are always above the usual. She never does the boring, clichéd stuff everyone else is doing, which just feels like they were forced by their editor to add a suspense subplot. With this author it's not like that at all. Even if I'm not really reading for the suspense subplot and prefer to spend as much time as possible with the hero and heroine, I don't find myself bored with the suspense, and I can appreciate the fact that it's very competently done. More than I can say about most romantic suspense!

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