Read with: Amazon Kindle
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Pocket Books
Hero: Richard Worth
Heroine: Paris Samille Sweeney (Sweeney)
Date of Publication: July 29, 2003
Started On: October 30, 2010
Finished On: October 31, 2010
I needed a book to maintain the high I was riding after finishing up the last book I reviewed which happens to be Naked Edge, the 4th book in the delectable I-Team series. And I am so very glad that I picked this one up knowing that Linda Howard never fails to deliver. This is one book that I seem to have missed when I first started on my Linda Howard fest when I discovered her as an author after reading the emotionally gut wrenching story Sarah’s Child by the author. As always, the hero is to die for, his character described in such a manner that it is impossible not to give a part of yourself to him before the story is through. The heroine is not the type to stand back and just let the hero tread all over her, but rather she gives as good as she gets which made this book the winner it is for me.
The Hero: Richard Worth is a self-made millionaire who is described as a Wall Street whiz which made him the rich man he is. Growing up dirt poor in a farm in West Virginia, Richard’s father had died when he had been 3 years old. Now 39 years old, Richard had grown up with his grandfather and mother, both of whom had worked every day of their lives to provide for themselves. From a very young age Richard’s grandfather had instilled in him the need to work and earn your keep which makes Richard the man he is. Joining the army because he had been unable to afford a college education had made him discover that he had a knack for military life. And when Richard had found that he had knack for the stock market which was more lucrative and since money was all he had wanted to make Richard had never looked back. Its been 15 years since Richard has left the army and life had seemed to be going well when he had married Candra his wife of 10 years. Discovering his wife’s infidelity had broken the luster from his marriage and the final straw had come 9 years into their marriage, an act of ultimate betrayal by Candra which pushes Richard to end their farce of a marriage and apply for a divorce. Richard is a man who draws women to him effortlessly but remains faithful to his wife because Richard has always been the sort of man one can truly depend and rely upon.
The Heroine: Paris Samille Sweeney (Sweeney) or sweetie as Richard calls her is a woman who is so immersed in her work as an artist that she rarely takes notice of the opposite sex. Born in Italy, Sweeney comes from parents who found no time for their children but rather pursued their careers, her mother as an artist and her father as a filmmaker. Sweeney shies away from the opposite sex because her experiences with her promiscuous mother whilst growing up had made her wary of turning out to be exactly like her. Now 31 years old, Sweeney is described to have a trim figure, almost medium in height with blue eyes and curly brown hair which she keeps below shoulder length in an effort to control its unruliness. Sweeney had been living in the small town of Clayton in New York when that fateful day in August she had seen the ghost of 10 year old Samuel Beresford who had died of leukemia a month back. Afraid that people would assume that she has lost it, Sweeney wants to move somewhere that is warmer when Candra Worth, owner of the gallery where Sweeney sells her work convinces her to move to New York. The story continues a year after that fateful day when everything changes for Sweeney, someone who equals sameness and normalness to security.
Storyline: Sweeney’s entire world changes the day she starts seeing ghosts. The experiences leave her with a bone deep cold that refuses to leave her. Her work as an artist also changes from the trademark delicacy of her landscapes and still studies to paintings more boisterous and colorful in nature which leaves Sweeney with a feeling of hopelessness as she tries to prevent the changes from overtaking her life completely. Never one to take bullshit from anyone, the final straw comes when Sweeney is invited to Candra’s gallery to do a portrait for an important client of hers, a client who is a strong political figure that grates on Sweeney’s nerves right from the first moment. And when Sweeney’s body decides to take notice of Richard Worth all of a sudden, Sweeney is decidedly at a loss on how to control the sudden and swift change within her towards a man who was in a bitter contest of finalizing his divorce from Sweeney’s friend and mentor for the past year. Sweeney’s actual capabilities come to light when she sleep paints the murder of a person whom she is overtly fond of, the truth which she finds out only a little bit too late. When Sweeney finds herself face to face with another sleep painting attempt of hers, Sweeney is determined that she would finish the painting before its too late to warn whoever it is of her impending death.
First Encounter: There are references to Sweeney and Richard meeting one another on several occasions, most of which Sweeney doesn’t even remember because she has a tendency to desexualize herself and immerse herself in the wonderful world of vibrant colors that her life is. But the day that Sweeney’s body decides to take notice of and wants to claim Richard Worth as her own is the moment that Richard has been waiting for since he has always found Sweeney attractive.
Time period: This story has a contemporary setting and takes place in New York.
Awareness between the hero and heroine: With the first heady kiss between the two there is no turning back though Sweeney refuses to sleep with Richard till his divorce is final which propels him to use his ruthless determination in obtaining his freedom from the woman who he has come to hate, an action which sets in motion a set of events that leads to Candra’s murder. The bone deep cold that takes hold of Sweeney whenever she sleep paints only seems to go away in Richard’s fiery embrace which definitely makes this one heady read!
The turning point: From the moment Sweeney’s hormones become aware of Richard as a man there is no turning back for either of them. Richard is captivated by Sweeney who is the total opposite of Candra and for the first time Richard finds a woman with whom he can be himself with which is an attraction in itself. Sweeney though she tries her damnedest to return her life back to the dull and lonely version it was before finds herself no match to Richard’s quiet determination to win Sweeney over. With each kiss and embrace between the two the inevitable conclusion of which is a combustive joining of their hearts and souls is exactly what Linda Howard delivers – in spades.
Ending: Though the killer is not really a mystery as the story proceeds, nevertheless its an interesting one which brings to light the tangled web Candra decides to weave in order to dig herself out of the hole she has landed herself in. The ending is a fitting one which brings out the killer once and for all, nervous at the thought of Sweeney completing her portrait to point the homicide detectives in the right direction.
Likes: As always Linda Howard creates the best alpha heroes in her stories. Richard has a quiet unassuming strength about him that totally captivated me and made me wish all his attention were focused on me. Silly I know, but I tend to get silly and all swoony around heroes like Richard. I also loved Sweeney and how she overcomes the fear of the change that takes place in her, how she finally accepts the fact that she has changed for better or worse and tries to make the best use of her talents to help others. Her less than perfect character perfectly complemented Richard in every way which made this book a winner for me.
Dislikes: I found myself a little bit put off by the fact that the Epilogue was just a couple of lines which sheds some light on why Sweeney is the way she is. I wanted a longer epilogue detailing the changes that had come about in both Richard and Sweeney’s lives a year on and glimpses of the perfectness of the world they had created together.*pouts a little*
Recommended for: Those who like romantic suspense with a tangy bit of paranormal in it.
His hand on the back of her head, he settled her against him once more. His mouth lightly brushed her temple, and over to her eyelid. “After next week, when you get cold, I’ll be able to warm you from inside out.”
Oh, God, he managed it now. Her heart leaped, and her pulse rate jumped to double time.
“You’re doing just fine as it is,” she gasped.
“The way you shake and shudder, I won’t even have to do any work. All I’ll have to do is set you in place, then lie back and enjoy the ride.”