Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Mills & Boon
Hero: Nicholas Fortune
Date of Publication: April, 1990
Started On: July 27, 2018
Finished On: July 28, 2018
Susan Napier is one of my go-to authors when it comes to the Harlequin line of romances. Having discovered her books somewhere in 2013, I have delighted in the depth of her characterization and emotion she brings in the scant number of pages that usually makes up a Harlequin romance.
Fortune’s Mistress happened to be my next pick by Susan Napier to sample, and while I enjoyed certain aspects of the story, I realized that there were bits and pieces to it that didn’t quite work for me. The heroine Maggie is married to her best friend Finn when the tale begins. Their marriage is not unusual if you consider most marriages of conveniences. Given how their marriage started, the reasons behind it, an open marriage where they were both free to come and go as they please, while respecting certain boundaries worked for them. That is until Finn announced that he was in love, which meant that their brief sojourn through marriage had to come to an end.
Maggie is more apprehensive about who Finn had fallen in love with than the fact that he had. Although Maggie cannot deny that she feels completely alone for the first time in her life at the thought of the changes that are to come, she cannot help but feel a bit cautious because the love of Finn’s life turns out to be none other than the coveted daughter of Nicholas Fortune.
Known as a ruthless corporate raider who was rumored to have been a boxer at one time, was now considered amongst the societal elites of New Zealand. Maggie, always in her encounters with Nicholas had barely skimmed the surface, preferring to avoid him altogether, without delving too deeply into the reasons as to why she does what she does.
Needless to say, a lot of misunderstandings happen before everything is put to right. It’s not like “my husband is in love with your daughter” is the kind of statement you blurt out with a man as closed off as Nicholas Fortune. Nicholas’s take on Maggie and Finn’s marriage, though he doesn’t have the full facts to form a comprehensive picture, is spot on when it comes to discerning Maggie’s thoughts and deeper feelings, which unnerves her in a way that leaves her altogether not too comfortable. Maggie likes her life the way it is, uncomplicated, even if people might surmise her to be a spoilt rich socialite.
What I found tiresome were the countless conversations that took place between Maggie and Nicholas, without anything really happening. Maggie and Finn’s marriage, having never being consummated, had proper grounds for an annulment. But the fact that there was a family history as to why they had gotten hitched in the first place, prevents them from making a go for it. I wanted more for Nicholas and Maggie than witty dialogue and exchange of sarcastic quips. I wanted the passion between them to materialize and take a hold of my senses. I wanted Nicholas and Maggie together, and it just happened too late for my tastes.
Sometimes, it so happens that an author makes conversation such a huge part of the novel that the rest is left behind. Slow burn is all well and good. But when slow burn becomes an excruciating burn, no reader wishes to go through that and feel like they have been cheated out of the climax that should have been coming. Pun intended.
Recommended for fans of books that are steeped in witty banter and fans of Susan Napier.
Final Verdict: Even though Fortune’s Mistress is not Napier’s finest, her ability to keep the reader engaged is a testament to her talent that lives on through her stories.
She decided that flippancy was the only defense. ‘Are you trying to appeal to my sense of decency?’ she mocked in turn, and she was relieved to see that trace of compassion vanish like smoke from the grey-blue eyes.
‘Do you have any?’ he grated.
‘What do you think?’ she asked archly.
‘I think .. .’ Whatever he had been going to say, he changed his mind. His voice dipped roughly.
‘I think you’ve been spoilt to hell and back, and it’s a bloody waste.’
There was real anger in the growl, and a regret that whipped under Maggie’s defences. Her eyes widened and they stared at each other for a moment; she saw the hungry male curiosity stir and the regret took on a far more personal flavor.
When their mouths touched there was an explosion of heat, a sweet eruption that quaked through Maggie and left her weak and shaking. No other man had kissed her, touched her. .. only Nick. His mouth was bold and intoxicating, like rich red wine that lingered on the palate. His tongue moved in her mouth, tasting the tart sweetness of her surrender, curling around her tongue and enticing it into an uninhibited exploration of its own, drawing her skillfully into his possession so that he might suckle her with a slow, erotic rhythm that shocked her un-tutored senses. He didn’t touch her with anything but his mouth, and Maggie didn’t dare unfold her fists clenched at her side for fear that if she touched him she would never let him go … But for the pleasure he gave her they might have been naked on a bed, locked in each other’s arms.
When the kiss broke, something in Maggie did, too.
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