Krentz is one of my favorite writers. In the last few years, there was a drop in the quality of her writing—and she invariably publishes at least one book a year, usually more than one under her various nom de plums—but this book was as good as her best ones.
Some reviewers accuse all her books of being written on the same formula. I agree, but that’s what I like about her writing: I always know what to expect. It’s like traveling with a guidebook. You know you’re going to visit a castle with a moat and a drawbridge and a tower, but you only see the particulars when you arrive on site, and every castle is different. The same with Krentz’s novels. I know the basic outline, but the details are veiled until I open the first page.
Speaking of the first page, Krentz’s beginnings are fantastic, maybe the best I ever read. This one starts with the heroine, Grace, discovering her boss dead in silk pajamas. From that point on, the story gallops. The action is so fast it doesn’t allow the reader or the characters many breaks. A few breaks that do occur are filled with the gradually building romance and an occasional sex interlude.
While the villains are on the prowl, striking again and again, the protagonists Grace and Julius explore their mutual feelings, simultaneously trying to solve the sinister mystery.
The hero and heroine are both staples of this writer, nothing unique (for her). She is spunky but compassionate, a firm believer in the power of good, if a bit naive. He is an alpha male, ruthless, rich, and athletic, but her goodness gradually softens his attitude. I enjoy reading about them (under different names) in every Krentz’s book, even though neither of them is real. They are both the ideal gender models, as beautiful inside and out as stars in a classical ballet. Nobody is a drunkard or a drug user or a miser. I admit it might not be for those who expect realism in fiction but I like it.
The setting is usual for this writer too: a small town on a shore of some body of water in the Pacific Northwest.
One of the best features of this book is its dialog. It’s quick and sharp and drives the plot forward. Actually, most of the text of this novel, probably about 60% if not more, consists of dialog. It’s as terse as the rest of the narrative. Krentz doesn’t waste her page space on verbal frivolities or flowery explanations. Her every word is designed to up the tension and deepen the conflict, until the resolution explodes in the last chapter.
A comfort read of the best kind, this novel had a bit of everything: romance, sex, mystery, suspense, charming protagonists, and great writing. Overall, delightful.