Okay, I'm gonna say this straight up. Miss Long is getting off _extremely_ easy tonight because of my last book review. (g) Right now, any flaws I may have seen in her work are almost diminished to a point of non-existence. Well, not quite, but I'm feeling quite generous at the moment.
Before I start, can we just take a moment to reflect on the title of this book?
*blinks at it a few times*
Yeah, who comes up with these things? All throughout the book, I looked for some deeper meaning that could be attributed to it, but I didn't find anything. What a seriously random title. I guess the reason they chose it is probably similar to the way they insist on putting man-titty pics all over romance covers. Does that really sell more books, tho? Speaking for myself, I'm a bit put off by such things. But I guess I'm not one to judge. Apparently what they're doing is working. (g)
THE PERILS OF PLEASURE by Julie Anne Long
Brief Synopsis: Colin Eversea has been found guilty of murder and is on the verge of being hung for a crime he didn't commit. On the day of his hanging, he's rescued by a mercenary for hire, Madeleine Greenway. When Madeleine attempts to deliver Colin to her unknown employer, someone attempts to take her life instead. Unable to move about the country alone, the two band together in an attempt to discover who is behind framing Colin, etc.
Oh goodness. I really shouldn't attempt a synopsis after 10PM...or ever. (g)
Okay, I'll begin by saying that Long has a lovely way with words (despite her headhopping, which fortunately was rather smooth and infrequent). She's very skilled and I sank right into her world. Her descriptions are vivid, and I could picture the setting through her eyes.
I liked the set-up of this story. In a way, it reminded me a great deal of THE SPYMASTER'S LADY by Joanna Bourne (yay, Jo!): A female in this highly dangerous profession, whose past is somewhat of a mystery, comes to the rescue of a man who isn't used to taking a backseat to strong women. I settled in for a good ride.
Unfortunately, about half way through, she started to lose me. I think I've pinpointed why that is. As I said earlier, she headhopped. However, I'd say she told most of the story from Colin's POV. And well, Colin is such...such a man. He thinks with his *cough* and well, was all around a bit shallow. He says he's in love with his childhood sweetheart, but yet, all he talks about is all of the affairs he's had, and well, he basically lusts after Madeleine from day one. Since his main focus is breaking up this sweetheart's wedding to his brother, it got a bit far-fetched for me. Deep devotion and rakish lust aren't exactly a believable mix.
When she told the story from Madeleine's POV, I felt very distanced from her. I think it was because she was hiding a bit of backstory for a late reveal. So for that reason alone, it seemed she couldn't dig too deep into her thoughts, etc. Put the two together and you have two characters I didn't really care for much. I wanted to, but could never get there.
The plotting... well, it was quite an intricate story. I would argue, TOO intricate. When she tied it all up in the end, I was left thinking, WTF? It was all a bit too far-fetched for me and *cough* appeared to be held together very loosely. Crazy because it didn't bother me until the very end. Up until then, I was going right along with the story. Mostly. I wish she would've simplified it a bit. Sometimes less is more.
The romance between the two MC's? Well, it was okay. The ending was your typical HEA, a lot predictable...but you know, I guess that's to be expected in a romance. I just wish someone would go out on a limb once in a while and write an ending that will surprise the readers. For a minute I thought that might happen here, but then it all turned around again.
So, final thoughts... GREAT writer but she needs to dig deeper into her characters and show us why we should care about them. I think she's almost there. And I feel the same about her plotting. I think with a little bit of stream-lining and simplification, this would've been a much better book. Once again, I think she'll get there. I'd probably give her next book a shot.