Dear Kimberly Lang:
This was originally published under the Harlequin Mills & Boon Modern line and before the creation of Harlequin Kiss would probably be sold through the Harlequin Presents line and marked as an extra. I’m not certain what to think of the Kiss line but it appears to be a North American version of the Riva line. This book is set in New Orleans and features a very well worn trope of the oh so wicked hero constantly baiting the supposedly uptight heroine. I couldn’t help but envision Harry Connick Jr. given that the hero was a New Orleans-based, a “piano playing crooner” with a bad-boy rock star image.
The heroine, Vivienne LaBlanc, is a former beauty queen and the two protagonists are set in a conflict against each other to see who can raise the most money for the New Orleans annual Saints and Sinners pageant, either Saint Vivi or Sinner Connor (the piano playing crooner and famous personage). It isn’t hard to figure out who has the bigger pockets to draw from.
The real conflict is that Vivi’s latent feelings for Connor are stirred up almost immediately upon reconnecting and Connor uses those feelings because his bad boy image needs a little burnishing that favorite daughter and former beauty queen can provide. For most of the book, Connor’s surface motivations are tied to this. Yes he enjoys Vivi’s company but he can’t deny that the connection to her is doing him a world of good.
To some extent they are both using each other. Vivi is enjoying being in the spotlight again, having her profile elevated by being seen with Connor. Vivi’s good standing is rubbing off on Connor wiping away some of the sins of his recent PR disaster. But Connor’s attitude toward Vivi for most of the book is that he is having a good time now. I was never convinced that he wouldn’t get bored and go looking for something else. His impermanence seemed about the only consistent thing about him. His late book declarations of love weren’t convincing and I felt that Vivi got played on a number of levels.
Vivi isn’t much of a saint either, though. She’s snobbish, prickly, and often jumping to the wrong conclusions. She doesn’t fight for anything she wants whether it is to win the contest or win Connor’s heart. It seemed like Vivi got swept up by an old flame and Connor’s interest in her wasn’t ever as fierce as hers was for him.
The first half of the story was slow moving as Vivi and Connor danced around each other and traded lame insults. I felt like yelling at them to have sex already.
The New Orleans setting was well done and the play on sinner and saint was clever, but overall the execution left me bored and disappointed. C-