Aristide Pompasse is dead. But the evil in the great artist’s soul still haunts the vineyards and lurks in the corners of his Tuscan villa. Known as much for his fabulous portraits as his penchant for young mistresses, Pompasse had not let anyone go until Charlie, his young wife, had managed to escape.
Now Charlie is back, to lay old ghosts to rest, to find the answers to who she was, to make peace with her past and her future. And there is no room in that peaceful future for a dangerous man like Connor Maguire.
Maguire knows what he wants. He is about to break the biggest story of his life – Pompasse’s murder – and damn anyone who gets in his way. So why can’t he keep his eyes and his hands off the old man’s widow?
In the old house, where murder is a whisper away, and desire a dance in the moonlight, nothing is quite as it seems…
Some spoilers ahead!
Jace: This book exasperated me quite a bit but nowhere as annoying as Nightfall and Moonrise. It started off as quite maddening, but the second-half suddenly tickled my funny bone! I’m sure it wasn’t meant to be amusing but the way the characters behaved and how the plot unfolded were superficial and much too convenient.
Mel: Yeah, this was bad but not as bad as Nightfall or Moonrise. I found the whole thing quite silly and unbelievable. Why, oh why, would all these young beautiful women go with that old man? I get that he was famous and artistic, but still...
Jace: Exactly! All those women, young enough to be his granddaughters, just literally fell at that old goat's feet! I found it hard to believe how those women (including Charlie) put up with that manipulative, womanizing old goat. He didn't treat them very nicely either.
The only thing I liked about this story was the setting, the beautiful Tuscan countryside. The imagery wasn’t strong but whatever there was, was enough to carry me to the locale.
Mel: Yes, the setting at the villa was lovely. Stuart is very good at putting the reader in the setting.
Jace: The first-half of the book was irritating – we spent way too much time in Maguire’s (hero) head. It was long-winded … he thought and thought, and he repeated his thoughts all over again. *sigh* Why was he even attracted to the frigid ice queen, Charlie (heroine), was beyond me. He was supposed to be this heartless, world-weary and war-toughened SOB, but he couldn’t stop looking out for, and taking care of, her. His toughness and devil-may-care attitude seemed only a posturing.
Mel: Usually what I like about her heroes is their aloofness and not knowing what their motivations are. Are they good guys or bad; with Stuart it's usually a mixture of both. Here, I didn't get that vibe from Maguire. That was disappointing as I read her for her bad boy heroes.
Jace: I agree with you about Maguire not being aloof or ambiguous enough. He was a quasi-bad boy. I read Stuart primarily for her bad boys too.
Charlie. Heh. I didn’t feel very much for her – perhaps the author overdid her frigidity? She was a distant character – not unlikeable, just someone I couldn’t be bothered about if she got killed in the next instant. She was wound up so tight, her emotions and behaviour so tightly controlled, and she came across as so bloody perfect and magnanimous. Then she changed overnight – after three orgasms with Maguire, no less – that was really funny to read about. Overnight, she grew a temper, became a tigress (in the sex department) and patched things up with mommy dearest (after all those estranged years).
Mel: *Sigh* Charlie, I didn't like. She was such a doormat and frankly, a bit TSTL. I didn't buy her transformation either.
Jace: The identities of the murderer and the accomplice were quite predictable, in that I did suspect them, although I couldn’t guess at their motives. The ignorance of the accomplice’s partner was pathetic – to be at their side the whole time and never suspected anything?
Mel: I was actually a bit surprised at who the murderer was. I second what you said about the accomplice's partner being in the dark about certain activities ... dumb! Plus, how could the accomplice live with herself knowing what the murderer had done?
Jace: The accomplice’s head was real messed up, that’s what.
Another funny thing. When the church collapsed, it fell on everyone except those three characters – that really tickled me pink! LOL
Mel: That worked out just perfectly, didn't it? LOL How very convenient.
Jace: I spotted an inconsistency as to how many years Charlie had left Pompasse. Throughout the book, it was mentioned five years. On page 60, “She had lent Charlie her own money to make her escape that night seven years ago.” At first, I thought perhaps Charlie ran away twice – once seven years ago, only to return to Pompasse; then again two years later, this time for good. But no … she had left only once, right?
Mel: I think she only left once, unless I missed something. I missed that mess up – whether it was five years or seven. By that point, I just wanted to be done with the book.
Jace: My rating is 2.5 out of 5. Problematic – may struggle to finish. Sensuality: Warm
Mel: I gave it a 2.5/Warm as well.