Dear Ms. Napier:
I’ve slowly been converted to being an HP fan. Being an HP fan means that you are in for a lot of drama and a lot of bruising kisses. The real measure of success for me, in an HP, is how strong the heroine is. Because the men are fairly interchangeable: strong, brooding, goodlooking, and successful. Many jump to conclusions at the slightest drop of a garter. If a heroine can stand up to the hero, I generally find the HP to be satisfying. If not, the HP formula fails.
Emily Quest, an antique ceramics restorer, crashes a party in order to engage in a felonious act. In order to get away with her mission, she tarts herself up and acts quite bold which is contrary to her real nature. While at the party, a stern and brooding man confronts her, she acts out in an effort to not get caught doing something she is not supposed to be doing and ultimately gets away.
Fast forward, Emily is burned out of her home and is offered refuge in a patron of hers. Peter is an elderly man who has lost his wife who was a collector and often used Quest’s services to restore pieces in her collection.
Emily doesn’t want to take Peter up on his offer, but her situation forces her hand. Upon arrival at Peter’s estate, she finds that a special suite of rooms have been made up for her as well as an entire studio. Needless to say, it appears that Peter is going to great lengths to make Emily comfortable so when his nephew shows up, he jumps to the immediate conclusion that Emily is a no good gold digger. It doesn’t help that the nephew is the stern and brooding man that she taunted at the party or that she is very attracted to him.
Is this an implausible romance? Oh yes. Ethan West has a low opinion of Emily. She is a fraud, possibly a thief, possibly a gold digger, but he is physically stirred by her.
Is it full of melodrama? Absolutely. Ethan takes turns insulting Emily and clutching her to him. Emily is always in situations that are rife with immoral suggestibility.
Yet, I admit I still enjoyed it. Napier has a large vocabulary and she isn’t afraid to wield it.
Oh, God, it was him. This wasn’t just her over-stressed brain playing morbid tricks on her; there was no mistaking that stony visage and coruscating look.
“You mean you didn’t know that you knew me,’ Ethan pointed out with infuriating pedantry.
“I didn’t know you at all,’ she reiterated.
“Not in the biblical sense, anyway,’ he said. “Although not for want of trying.’
This is very standard HP fare (which is why I read them) and I measure these by the asshole to doormat heroine ratio. The grade for the book is inversely proporational to the ratio. In this book, while Ethan is quite the asshole, Emily isn’t the standard doormat heroine so the ratio is lower meaning that the grade is higher. C+