May 7 2007
Dear Ms. O’Reilly,
Jane and I mentioned in our reviews of “Beyond Daring” that Mercedes (who we knew would be the heroine of your next book) needed some work before we could like her. You promised that she would undergo some growth in the year since the setting of the last book and earn our love. Well, ….she has improved some but I can’t really say you totally redeemed her for me.
Despite the success of her sultry Red Choo sex blog, it would take serious buzz to put Mercedes Brooks’s first book of erotic fantasies on the bestseller list. And that meant agreeing to another showdown with her nemesis, the super-sexy TV pundit Sam Porter.
This time, though, the on-air innuendos were just a dress rehearsal. What happened later between the sheets was actually the main event. If the tabloids got wind of their night together, Sam’s career would self-destruct. But the real shocker was that even with a prime-time scandal hanging over their heads, one night was not enough!
I ended up liking Sam more than Mercedes. I almost liked Max (Sam’s dog) more than Mercedes. I liked Sam’s father as well but not necessarily more than Mercedes. But I thought that Sam’s whole political career thing and his statement that his private life is private is unrealistic. This is modern day American politics when reporters go almost back to a candidate’s prenatal existence to dig up dirt. Sam thinks they won’t find out about Mercedes’ and his relationship? That his private life will remain private while he’s on the campaign trail and afterwards? That the reporters won’t go wild writing about the material that Mercedes writes? That some constituents in New Jersey won’t have a cow about all this? I’m sorry but I can’t see that. I will say that I think Sam’s reasons for going into politics are great and that I laughed at the references to “Mr Smith Goes to Washington.”
Anyone who’s read any of my letters will probably have picked up on the fact that I’m not too fond of characters from past books in a series showing up and hogging too much time in the next books. It can be done well but it takes restraint to make me happy. I think you strike the right balance for me. “Beyond Seduction” shows glimpses of past characters (esp, surprisingly to me, Sheldon) who were all around enough to show off their current happiness without getting cloying or taking over this book. And I gotta say I loved Jamie and Andrew’s getaway car and how Jamie makes Andrew so happy that he’s willing to break out of his comfort zone to be romantic for her (even if she’s also trying to tone that down).
But Mercedes…I don’t think she really paid enough for what she did to her brothers with her blog entries in the past. Sure, she realized when it was her turn that she didn’t like her sex life in front of the masses but did she ever really repent of what she did in the past? Maybe her “noble, I will sacrifice my love for the good of Sam’s political career” was supposed to do this but if so, it didn’t work for me. She regretted putting the thinly disguised “Sam” into a story on the blog and vaguely said, “oh gee now I understand how mad Andrew and Jeff were” but it seemed like lip service to me. Then there was the “I want to be famous in order to show up my dad for leaving me” issue that really wasn’t seen through. We read about Mercedes getting tearful and Sam comforting her but then, poof that subplot is basically gone. While I’m glad that you didn’t put some smaltzy “feel-good” reunion with her long gone father into the book, this wasn’t really explored enough to have even bothered bringing it up.
I thought the sex was hot but tasteful. And Sam’s NJ house (what exit was that?) might tempt me to become a Jersey Girl.
There’s a lot that goes on in this novel but I didn’t feel like some issues were really explored enough or covered in depth enough. I liked the storyline, didn’t hate picking the book back up and read it very quickly but by the end, I just felt I was skimming along on the surface. I know you won’t be happy with my grade but I’m afraid it’s an average C+.