|Christina Dodd is one of the most successful writers in the field,
with innumerable bestsellers, awards and accolades to prove it. She’s
even figured in a Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle. Think she can't possibly write a less than perfect book? Think again.
Brandi Michaels has just moved to Chicago to practice law and play
house with her fiancé. Things would be great if said fiancé hadn't
got his other girlfriend pregnant and hightailed it to Vegas with a
marriage license in hand. Brandi's pretty upset, but she has a plan.
She's not going to get mad, she's going to get some action. And who
better to give it to her than Count Roberto Bartolini? Since he's
obviously not from the neighborhood, he won't be around for the
morning after. No expectations, no complications, no trouble. Right?
Wrong. Brandi has been so busy studying and unpacking and pawning her
big, fat diamond ring that she hasn't read the newspapers. So she has
no idea Roberto is more than just a foreign industrialist and
aristocrat. He's also an international jewel thief who is standing
trial. Guess whose firm is hired to defend him, and guess into whose
custody he is remanded. Looks like Brandi and Roberto will have no
trouble staying together, after all.
Brandi has a real hang-up about being called stupid. She refuses to
become another has-been trophy wife like her mother and has spent her
whole life trying to prove she's not the dimwit her father considers
her. Her efforts have paid off: she has recently graduated magna cum
laude, and a top Chicago law firm has snapped her up. So why does she
let men blindside her? You'd think she'd have learned something from
her ex-fiancé, but she doesn't see beyond the obvious where Roberto
I get the need for revenge. I get the self-disgust at being used. I
even get the frequent bouts of anger. Still, Brandi's a little too
furious for my taste. The girl sure knows how to stomp in high heels.
I would admire her for it, if I didn't find it so annoying. A little
less rage and a little more reflection would have done her wonders.
Instead she appears clueless about things that really matter like,
say, how the legal system works and what Roberto is up to. Then
again, tempted as I might be to echo Brandi's father, she has too
many great lines to be stupid. And when she's not click-click-
clicking her Jimmy Choos, she has quite a bit of charm.
Roberto’s Italian ancestry, aristocratic lineage, and criminal charm
have real seductive potential (think Cary Grant with a big dollop of
Marcello Mastroianni, and catch yourself before you swoon), but I
would have liked to watch him pull off his burglary stunt.
Unfortunately, the much-awaited scene takes place off stage, and
we're left with the unappealing fall-out. Though Roberto is quick to
proclaim his enduring love and has several ingenious romantic tricks
up his tailored sleeves, I have my doubts about how long his
relationship with Brandi will last.
The book really falls through with its villains, each and everyone
cardboard cutouts from old Godfather movies. Comic caricatures and
ethnic stereotypes may draw a couple of laughs, but get the old
heartbeat racing? Not likely. No wonder I didn't buy the under-the-
threat-of-death line and found it hard to sympathize with Brandi's
and Roberto's dilemmas. The other secondary characters, including
Brandi’s mother, work better for the humorous overtones.
Despite my issues with the characters, the novel is quite readable.
The writing is polished, and the pacing well timed. It ends with what
looks like a clever pretext for a series. Apparently, Roberto's
father spread his sperm all over the land, leaving behind countless
unacknowledged off-springs (birth control and safe sex, anyone?).
Imagine how many sequels Dodd can milk out of that situation. Let's
hope the heroines are more endearing and the plots more suspenseful,
or she just might find herself with a very short-lived cash cow.