His name is Richard Tiernan. He is deadly handsome, darkly brilliant, and devastatingly attractive to women. He has been convicted of killing his wife and his children have disappeared. Now he wants to make Cassidy the latest victim of his powers of seduction and secret agenda.
Cassidy knows all this. But still she chooses to surrender her heart and soul to a lover whose reasons for wanting her are as mysterious as the violent act that branded him a murderer. Cassidy is his now, to do with what he wishes … as he leads her through a labyrinth of desire that is her only path to the terrifying truth…
This is one of Anne Stuart’s best-loved thrillers. It is also reputed to be gripping, dark and disturbing.
For me, the first-half was a chore to get through … it took me three days just to get that far. I persevered because I wanted to find out Richard’s secrets. The second-half was more readable, with a rather predictable storyline. It wasn’t difficult for me to guess the identity of the villain.
Cassidy’s father, Sean O’Rourke is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist. He intends to write Richard’s story – a man who has been sentenced to death for the murder of his wife – so he posts bail and brings Richard home. Sean needs Cassidy’s help to write the book, so he lures her to his home. What she doesn’t know is that she is part of Sean’s payment to Richard in exchange for his story. She also doesn’t know that Richard took one look at her photo and decided she was the one to further his intricate plan. Is Richard a murderous monster, who not only killed his wife, but is suspected also of the disappearance of his children and some women he was linked with?
My biggest problem with this story is Cassidy. She comes across as obtuse and needy, despite the author’s assertion that she is smart and independent. She lets her jerk of a father manipulate her, and she knows very well he is using her, yet she continues doing exactly what he asks of her. Cassidy and everybody else are convinced that her father loves her, as much as he is capable of, in his own way. Yeah, right. That explains why everyone seems dim-witted and quite absurd.
Then we have Richard, who at first is appropriately disturbing and interesting, but his menacing persona doesn’t last, so he feels inconsistent in the latter part of the story. His penchant for mind-games also makes him irritating. He is not one of my favourite Stuart heroes.
Some of the plot elements are rather dubious. Can a person who has already been sentenced to death, be allowed release on bail under the American legal system? Is it reasonable that a person, after taking one look at a photograph of a stranger, decides that that person is “the one” to be entrusted with his urgent and important plan? There are other questions that swirled in my head … questions that render this story unreal.
The only thing I like about this book is the writing, and I’m still a Stuart fan. Unfortunately, both the hero and heroine, as well as some problematic elements make this a less than satisfying read.
My rating is 2.5 out of 5. It's problematic - may struggle to finish. Sensuality: Warm+