Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

REVIEW: Dangerous Secrets by Lisa Marie Rice

Dangerous Secrets by Lisa Marie RiceDear Ms. Rice:

Yesterday I blogged about probably my favorite Lisa Marie Rice book. Today I bring you my least favorite LMR book (and apparently the only one my blogging partner, Janine, has in her to be read pile). Dangerous Secrets starts out with a superb prologue. There is a watcher on a hill observing a small group of people at a funeral. The watcher is paying particular attention to the widow and looks upon her pale face, “A lovely face. A face he'd kissed more times than he could count.”

It’s a fantastic start and I was immediately hooked. I turned to chapter one with great anticipation. Chapter 1 starts in 10 days earlier. I confess that when I saw the 10 day reference I figured we’d be in the midst of marriage between the two main protagonists. Instead I am shocked to discover that the two don’t even know each other ten days before. In chapter one, I am asked to believe that these two total strangers will meet, get married, and one will fake a death within 10 days. That’s a bit tough to swallow. It’s like asking a girl if she’ll give you a blowjob before the hors d’oeuvre are served. Give me some time, Jack, and a little romance?

From the sublime (intriguing prologue) to the ridiculous in the space of 5 pages.

This whole book suffered believability problems. First was the coupling of Nick and Charity. Nick is in Charity’s small town hunting a Russian criminal boss. Something bad is going down and his team of operatives (all three of them) need to get inside. They target Charity as she is a close friend of the Russian criminal boss. Charity is the town library who, by all accounts, lives a sedate life. When Nick asks her out, posing as a successful stockbroker who retired and plans to start his own investment firm. In Parker’s Ridge.

Charity finds nothing odd about this. Even though she hasn’t had a date since forever, she is not at all alarmed about going out on one with this total stranger. On top of this, she doesn’t have any real qualms about taking Nick to her bed that night. Now, I have nothing against the hookup or the one night stand in books as the prologue to a happy ever after, but nothing about Charity said “hookup and take home some stranger”.

Nick, of course, views hooking up with Charity as part of his duty as an undercover agent. See he’s used to whoring for the government. His last assignment was as Seamus Haley, a former PIRA fighter. To keep undercover he had to have near constant sex with Conseula, the crime head’s sister. Conseula liked her sex frequent and painful and while Nick hated doing it, he still “fucked her hard.”

Oh, Charity, close those legs before he gives you a disease, my internal girlfriend cries.

But possible disease bearing penis aside, Nick’s whole persona is supposedly a facade:

Nicholas Ames was thirty-four years old, a Capricorn, divorced after a short-lived starter marriage in his twenties, collector of vintage wines, affable, harmless, all-round good guy.

Not a word of that was true. Not one word.

During the entirety of the courtship and brief marriage, Nick was pretty much playing a character. Or supposed to be playing a character. In the 10 days, it’s not well conveyed exactly with whom or why Charity falls in love. (Also I found the reason that Nick had to marry Charity totally ridiculous but in the great scheme of things, this is pretty minor).

Nick and Charity are immediately in lust and somewhere between the first coupling and the twentieth, they fall in love or something. But their love is doomed! Because, you know, Nick is a liar and Charity is oblivious but also because Charity’s good friend is a horrible criminal.

But I sympathized more with the criminal than I did with Nick. I felt I knew the criminal better than I knew Nick as well. Vassily Worontzoff was a major literary star in Russia when he and his wife were arrested and placed in Soviet Union’s prison camp, Kolyma. There Vassily’s hands were crushed and his love and wife was brutally raped and killed. Vassily survived Kolyma and turned to a life of crime and violence. Why? This really wasn’t explained other than Vassily sought power, but he had no boundaries. Every money making and power making endeavor was undertaken by Vassily’s organization even human trafficking of women. You would think Vassily would not go there, but no, only Lisa Marie Rice’s heroes are allowed to be arms traders with a conscience (that’s Dangerous Passion).

Vassily ends up in northern Vermont where he finds Charity, the living image of his Katya. He becomes obsessed with Charity. He creates a idyllic existence for her, inviting musical stars from all over the world to perform at his estate for Charity’s benefit. They talk about literature and philosophy. Charity enjoys Vassily, considers him a friend.

Other than what Nick presented to us, it was hard to see Vassily as anything but a broken-hearted and obsessed man and frankly Nick was just as obsessed but since he is the hero, his craziness is hawt instead of scary.

I didn’t like Nick much. I think it was because he was portrayed as total hater of women, except for Charity. Good thing she was the most beautiful natural woman he had ever seen because otherwise it would have been more angry forced duty fucking for Nick. Nick actually refers to women as dogs:

Christ, she was pretty. No, she wasn't just pretty. She was beautiful. Not many women were beautiful, magazine articles to the contrary. They gussied themselves up, and a lot of them that were secretly dogs wore so much makeup you really couldn't tell what they looked like in there, under all the glop. And then of course there was the knife and the needle, giving half the women in America the same thin, upturned nose and big pillowy lips.

Charity had a natural beauty that didn't scream in any way, and yet once you did, once you really looked, it was almost impossible to tear your gaze away.

and

Nick groaned, looked down at himself through slitted eyes. He was hard as a pike, with nowhere to go with it.

This was new for him. He rarely beat the meat. He didn't have to. When he was on a mission he was too busy trying to save his ass to think about sex. And when he wasn't on a mission, well, half the world was female, after all, most with all the right plumbing. Lop off the under eighteens and over fifties, then lop off the dogs and you were still left with a world full of women to fuck.

Right now, for instance, he could be in bed with the waitress in the dingy diner where he'd eaten a cheeseburger. Or the checkout girl where he'd bought the whiskey.

He could have more or less any woman he wanted. He could dress and drive down to the tavern he'd seen five miles down the road. Half an hour after walking through the doors, he'd have company for the night, guaranteed.

As an aside, I read the Susan Mallery book, Almost Perfect, closely after this book and the heroine spray tans. I kept thinking that Nick would have thought the heroine in Almost Perfect as the whore of Babylon for spray tanning.

Nick has to resolve his deceit with Charity and get the goods on Vassily. Charity just has to smile her natural, perfect smile and be ready for penetration by Nick at all times. Sexy and   romantic.   D

Best regards,

Jane

Book Link | Kindle | Amazon | nook | BN | Borders

This is a trade paperback from Avon. Expect Agency pricing.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

16 Comments

  1. Verona St. James
    Jun 24, 2010 @ 16:09:34

    Oh, Charity, close those legs before he gives you a disease, my internal girlfriend cries.

    *snerk* You should have put a beverage warning on the review. :)

    ReplyReply

  2. Catherine
    Jun 24, 2010 @ 16:22:59

    He sounds like a real prince. Not.

    It’s scary to think that there are probably guys like this out there. Blech!

    ReplyReply

  3. Miki S
    Jun 24, 2010 @ 19:24:57

    It's scary to think that there are probably guys like this out there. Blech!

    Uh…my brothers? Two out of four of them, at least.

    My brother once told me he’d be willing to screw my teenage cousin (who suffered from acne), if only she’d put a bag over her head.

    Like ‘em or hate ‘em, one of the things I usually appreciate about Rice’s “heroes” is that they’re not “romance novel heroes”. They’re real “guys”. This guy seems pretty extreme, sure. But there definitely men out there like him.

    ReplyReply

  4. willaful
    Jun 24, 2010 @ 19:38:08

    This is the only book of hers I’ve read and I really didn’t care for it. Perhaps I should give her another go.

    ReplyReply

  5. Catherine
    Jun 24, 2010 @ 19:42:38

    Like ‘em or hate ‘em, one of the things I usually appreciate about Rice's “heroes” is that they're not “romance novel heroes”. They're real “guys”. This guy seems pretty extreme, sure. But there definitely men out there like him.

    I’m sorry, but just because there are men out there like this doesn’t mean they’re somehow admirable because they’re “real guys”. I think I’ll stick to my “romance novel heroes” who don’t think most women are dogs and that they can fuck anything that moves.

    ReplyReply

  6. LVLM
    Jun 24, 2010 @ 20:09:27

    Heh, I liked this book. It’s classic LMR. Nick is a prick and an ass until he meets Charity. That’s the usual set-up in LMR books. The hero is a major turd who is completely out of touch with his heart and feelings until he meets the heroine who is so magical that she and she only can turn him into a decent human being with her love.

    I liked this one because unlike most of her heroes, Nick wasn’t as overbearing and stalkerish and over the top as some of her others. He respected Charity’s input, which is something none of her other heroes do.

    And Charity was not the innocent lamb who is so perfect and sweet and kind like most of her heroines. She’s the first LMR heroine who actually acknowledges that she wants to have sex and goes for it. All the others act like it’s something they’ve never heard of until the hero shows them what it’s all about. So I enjoyed this one.

    Yeah, a lot of it is ridiculous and improbable, but LMR is one of those authors, kind of like, JR Ward, who’s readers eat it up like crack.

    I will say though that the lying part didn’t sit well with me. The only reason it was OK in my mind was that Nick goes against the rules and tells her the truth, which put his love for her over his work and everything else.

    I’ve reached a point where I’m tired of the LMR formula, but I’ve read pretty much all of her books as LMR and EJ and I still find her books have a special appeal.

    ReplyReply

  7. Melissa
    Jun 25, 2010 @ 05:43:38

    This is my least favorite LMR book too. Thankfully, Dangerous Passion was much better but Midnight Man is still my favorite.

    ReplyReply

  8. Mary G
    Jun 25, 2010 @ 06:34:17

    Jane you hit the nail on the head but still as with all LMR books I just
    “eat it up like crack”.

    I actually love alpha guy stories where the “hero is a major turd who is completely out of touch with his heart and feelings until he meets the heroine who is so magical that she and she only can turn him into a decent human being with her love”. Had to quote LVLM – couldn’t have said it better.

    ReplyReply

  9. Janet Mullany
    Jun 25, 2010 @ 09:18:35

    This was new for him. He rarely beat the meat. He didn't have to.

    Oh, please. Another hero who needs masturbation lessons? Why, oh why, does this tired old tart of a convention still get trotted out?

    Snorts.

    ReplyReply

  10. Moriah Jovan
    Jun 25, 2010 @ 11:20:22

    @Janet Mullany:

    Oh, please. Another hero who needs masturbation lessons? Why, oh why, does this tired old tart of a convention still get trotted out?

    Must admit I get tired of that too. All my imaginary friends are DIYers in that respect, either on page or off.

    That said, when I was younger and ran across the VERY rare masturbation scene and/or implication that hero/ine did so, I hated it. Then I got a little life on me. I don’t know if that’s representative of the tolerance for it, but it’s something I wonder about.

    ReplyReply

  11. shuzluva
    Jun 25, 2010 @ 12:58:07

    Jane you hit the nail on the head but still as with all LMR books I just
    “eat it up like crack”.

    Just what I need. More inane crack. Thanks!

    ReplyReply

  12. shivaun
    Jun 25, 2010 @ 13:34:54

    @willaful:

    This is also my least favorite of LMR’s books. My favorites are Midnight Angel and Pursuit (written as Elizabeth Jennings) and I highly recommend both of them. She definitely writes a very alpha male hero who is very protective of and (often)obsessed with the heroine so if that is something you wouldn’t enjoy you might want to skip her books altogether. Her heroines are very traditionally feminine, but in several books save their own lives and/or themselves and the hero. While being very traditionally feminine they are not mentally weak characters. In Port of Paradise the heroine can almost out run the hero and does out swim the hero so that are not necessarily physically weak.

    ReplyReply

  13. Bronte
    Jun 26, 2010 @ 03:22:39

    I read this LMR first and couldn’t finish it. I’ve since gone on to her other books and have loved them. I guess some authors are a bit hit and miss.

    As an aside interesting comment on the Susan Mallery book. I don’t mind a bit of spray tanning but I read one of her books where the heroine had been in love with the hero for years and wasn’t good looking enough for him so she went away and made herself beautiful – including having a nose job. Hit my squick button BIG time.

    ReplyReply

  14. Jane
    Jun 26, 2010 @ 06:44:10

    @Bronte Susan Mallery is one of those authors who can really make me insane but I still read her.

    ReplyReply

  15. MikiS
    Jun 26, 2010 @ 16:37:39

    Good thing she was the most beautiful natural woman he had ever seen…

    This comment has been on my mind the last couple days. Let me say first, this is no way is to excuse this “hero” from behaving the way he did in this book (which I haven’t read yet, although it is in my Reader).

    But – and maybe it’s just my age – but the idea of the heroine being a “natural beauty” rather than an overly made up “tart” is not uncommon in romance, or at least, in certain category romance (which is what I cut my romantic teeth on). Maybe it was just the books of the 70s/80s, but I’ve read LOTS of stories with this basic idea. The woman with all the makeup is usually also brittle, grasping, and out to put herself between the hero and the true heroine – who is a “natural” beauty (and who often is also a “real woman” with curves, rather than a “stick-thin model”). And I just finished another one today (a story from the Harlequin Medical line) with the same basic premise*.

    *Not the premise of THIS book or a guy like THIS hero…just the natural curvy beauty versus the made-up skinny bitch.

    ReplyReply

  16. Lambert Hicks
    Nov 13, 2012 @ 18:50:08

    Dangerous Secrets is Lisa Marie Rices latest book. If you have read any of her previous novels, you know what to expect an ultra-masculine hero who is touched to his center by love, and a heroine who is powerful, intelligent, and female to her fingertips. Add some danger, lots of love scenes, and you’ve a potent mixture.

    ReplyReply

Leave a Reply

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

%d bloggers like this: