Publisher: HarperCollins Canada/Harper Trade
Publication Date: August 1, 2007
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Source: Personal Collection
“I don’t want to be alone tonight.”
Caroline Lake can hardly believe she would ever say these words to someone she’d never met before. When a tall, dark stranger arrives wanting to rent a room in her beautiful empty shell of a mansion, she hesitates. Though she is in dire financial straits, the man looks dangerous–dangerously sexy. She’s overwhelmed by the desire he sparks in her–hotter than anything she’s ever felt before, making her ache to experience his sensuous touch. But who is this armed and mysterious man with danger following in his wake? He’s not who she thinks he is . . .
Jack Prescott has wanted Caroline forever. He has spent the past twelve years dreaming of her, desiring her, while fighting in some of the worst hellholes on earth. Now he’s back, with twenty million dollars in blood diamonds and a relentless enemy stalking him. But this time Jack’s determined that nothing will stop him from finally making Caroline his.
I was in a reading funk a week ago and digging through my bookcase. I’ve got a shelf dedicated to all of the books that have been gathering dust for more than a year – mostly my poor non-fiction Tudor collections – and I noticed a couple of Lisa Marie Rice books. How on earth those escaped me, I couldn’t fathom. I gobbled those up as soon as I bought them usually – after her Midnight series, she was my, er, chocolate, let’s call it. When I needed a dose of down and dirty, unapologetic testosterone-injected body-fluid fest, she was it. And I’d missed a couple of books! The horror. So I pulled one of these goodies down and settled in for a nice smooth and decadent feast. And ended up with the worst indigestion I’ve had in ages.
Jack Prescott – at the time the story opened, he was a young homeless boy named Ben – admired the young and beautiful girl named Caroline from afar. She was a benevolent angel, helping to serve meals to the poor and Ben would follow her to her big mansion and watch her inside. Sometimes he’d break in and wander around, smelling her things and imagining himself there. On Christmas Eve, starved and soaking wet, he stood outside her window watching her sing and saw her turn to kiss a handsome blonde boy – and knew it was time to leave.
Twelve years later, he’s returned to find Caroline again, to either see if she’s married and he can put the past to rest or if she’s available and he can finally try to win her. His name’s changed – everything about him’s different. After he’d left, he’d been taken in by a hardened military man who took him under his wing and made him into the soldier that he is now – a very, very rich one. In addition to the twenty million in blood diamonds he’s carrying, he’s got nearly ten million of his own in the bank. When he arrives in town, he’s told Caroline’s story – she owns a small bookstore, her family was killed in an accident, their money gone – and she’s single. She’s also just lost a necessary source of income, a boarder at her house and conveniently enough, he’s more than happy to take residence there at any price.
Aaaand the trouble begins. I mentioned that I’m a fan of Lisa Marie Rice (hereby LMR). I know the LMR formula: big scary he-man military/cop/security guy and delicate flower/sensitive/innocent maiden. Insta-spark. Quick sex, lots of it, Danger, Will Robinson, delicate flower in trouble, he-man does something insane to protect her, happily ever after. I missed a lot of sexing in there and there were a lot more Danger, Will Robinson moments, but that’s the gist of it. Don’t get me wrong, it works for me 99% of the time. I buy the books. I probably have the t-shirt. But Caroline, bless her heart, is really a bit..simpler than most LMR heroines. Is it because she’s in desperate need of money? Maybe so. But a complete stranger – a dangerous-looking one at that – shows up out of the blue, no references, and without even taking a penny from him or telling anyone about it, she takes him to her big empty house in the middle of a blizzard. Because she’s pretty sure she can trust him. Oy. I suspend a lot of belief in LMRs, but c’mon.
For his part, as soon as Jack gets to Caroline’s, he needs to jump into the shower while she makes dinner. While there, he muses about how aroused he is to finally be with her. As he does so, he also is amazed at his enormous, painful boner. Yes, he calls it his boner. And no, he’s not still sixteen.
I’m not going to bother going too far into the rest of Jack and Caroline’s story – like I said, it’s pretty standard LMR formula and while it’s borderline too stalker-y even for those standards, it is what it is. Caroline’s a little dim, helpless doll who needs a flow-chart to figure things out, Jack’s a macho stud who’s got an arsenal in his gym bag and a bad guy gunning for him. They have hours and hours of unprotected sex.
This thing went completely and permanently off the rails with the introduction of the bad guy. Vincent Deaver had planned on raiding a village in Sierra Leone where he’d heard there was a stash of blood diamonds, but just as his team was moving in, sniper Jack Prescott was there to pick them off and scoop the diamonds up. Now that Deaver’s escaped from the African prison, he’s tracking Jack, determined to make him turn the diamonds over, then make him pay. Way, way, way – did I mention way – too much of the story is Deaver’s. It cuts away to him constantly. And he’s boring. I realize there’s only so much sex Jack and Caroline can have and there are only so many repairs he can make to her house, but listening to Deaver scheme about what he’s going to do to them is like watching a cartoon villian twirl his moustache. Make them aware of your presence and do something or go away. Seriously.
The ending was a colossal..nothing. I don’t know what happened, but it was like somebody turned a light switch off and the rest of the room didn’t know what happened. Unsatisfying, abrupt, illogical – I read later that there was an epilogue of sorts posted online, but call me a purist – that’s a cheap trick to readers who only read the hard copy and wouldn’t know to look online.
My Summary: I can’t recommend this to LMR fans, in spite of the hot sex and usual formula - skip this and go on to another one of hers. This just isn’t like anything else of hers that I’ve ever read. I started the other book I have (Dangerous Secrets - Dangerous #2) and it’s nothing like this), so maybe this is an aberration.
My Rating: D