Brooding and sexy Rafe Di Luca has returned to his family's luxurious vineyard resort and discovers that a long-ago quarrel has ignited once more, forcing him to work with Brooke Petersson, the woman he seduced … and betrayed.
As the danger escalates and their passion threatens to rage out of control, Brooke fights her treacherous longing for a man who will never truly share his life with any woman. Remembering the anguish of the love they shared, she vows that Rafe may possess her body, but never again will he reach her fiercely guarded heart.
The peril they face will either bring them together, or destroy them both … unless they uncover the secret that will change everything.
And here is Donna's review:
I'll say up front that Christina Dodd wrote one of my all time favorite historical romances. Unfortunately, whatever alchemy of characterization, plot and pacing that made That Scandelous Evening ( A | BN | K | S) a go-to comfort read is completely lacking here. This book definitely falls into the how-the-hell-did-this-get-nominated-for-an-award? category. What made it such an excrutiatingly bad read? Stupidity and disappointment. Everything about this book reeked of disrespect for the readers' intellect, and that's so disheartening when you've sighed over a writer's earlier work.
It starts out promising enough. We meet Nonna Sarah driving home in her “titty pink” Mustang convertible. Who isn't tickled by the idea of their Nonna tooling around in a classic Detroit muscle car? On the other hand, do any of you have a first generation Italian grandmother born in a largely Italian neighborhood in the 30's named Sarah? Yeah, me neither. And what exactly does “titty pink” look like? I own a pair: not pink and not a color I would paint a Mustang. So right away smiling, but raising my eyebrow at the same time. Shortly after getting home with the groceries Nonna is attacked, grandson Rafe is called home from a rescue mission and the story jumps on the stupidity train.
Rafe is supposed to be this big security expert, (hereafter referred to as B.S.expert). Based on the following, I think I'd rather throw my lot in with the rent-a-cop at the mall.
The B.S.expert slips into the room where his brother keeps the resort's security computer. The unmanned security computer. Since it's a P.C., not H.A.L, exactly what sort of security does this provide? Don't hotels usually pay people to watch the pictures that are coming into the security computer from the security cameras? And we learn that there are security cameras everywhere – except where they're needed. Of course.
While the B.S.expert is giving access to the hacker in his employ (Guess. Go ahead, guess. Okay, yes, a pimply faced teenager who lives in his parent's basement playing video games. Whoddathunkit?), someone who shouldn't be able to access the securIty room comes in. When B.S.expert points out that employee swipe cards shouldn't unlock the door, she burbles, “Mine does!”. She claims she's there to play an online game during her break like she does everyday… on the security computer.
The B.S.expert decides to test her veracity by handing her the keyboard and telling her to sign into her game. She fumbles fetchingly logging on to Facebook, then says he's flustering her and she can't type. She wiggles her ass out of the room, hacker boy is drooling (like they do) and B.S.expert DOES NOTHING!!!! He doesn't take her swipe card, doesn't revoke her privileges, doesn't say anthing to her boss or his brother, doesn't have anyone staff the security closet. NOTHING!!!
There's this thing called willingness to suspend disbelief. A really good writer can accomplish this without readers even realizing they've done it. Honestly, how do you, as reader, overcome this sort of blatant stupidity? His credibilty is shot. We all know who the evil henchmen are at the beginning of the book. He doesn't figure it out until the end. No, that's not true, Brooke (the-girl-he-left-behind) figures out who one of them is and geek boy in the basement has to tell him who the other one is. The B.S.expert just cleans up after the fact. Sort of takes the suspense out of romantic suspense. Oh, if only this were all.
Younger brother Noah lets the B.S.expert in on his hiring criteria while discussing a shooting that Brooke was involved in prior to his arrival:
“On a resort that sprawls 25 acres with wealthy guests and 230 employees, a familiarity with firearms is a valuable skill to have”
A team of trained security guards is a valuable thing to have. An unsecured p.c. in a broom closet and a concierge packing heat, not so much.
Why does the B.S.expert have a hackable phone? And why, after geek in the basement informs him that it's been hacked, does he assume no one else's phones are hacked?
Why is the B.S.expert unable to contact his field team? Someone was able to contact him when he was with them. Did he take the only phone with him and now has to wait for them to find a Mobil station to use the pay phone?
And in case you think Brooke is a bastion of intelligent characterization, a heard-but-not-seen character is described by Brooke as a “con-man”. Either Brooke or Dodd apparently doesn't get the subtleties of various criminal elements. A man who shows up regularily at a high end resort accompanied by several body guards is not a con-man. Those show up with a mark in tow, keep a low profile and disappear never to be seen again when the bills come due. And he wouldn't give you his cell phone number. Regardless, is a man your daughter suspects of criminal behavior someone you want her to hook up with? Mine sure wouldn't, but Brooke's suggests him as a fine alternative to the B.S.expert. Brooke doesn't necessarily disagree, [as she says] “Sharing a bottle of wine with Gagnon would fulfill any woman's fantasy.”
Here I thought it was sharing a bottle of wine with George Clooney. Silly me. I'm not even going to go into the TSTL behavior that follows her discovery of who one of the evil henchmen is.
And the final (not in the book, just in this review) insult to our intelligence:
“Girls don't hack!”
This would be the whiney excuse of pimply faced teenage employee for not figuring who the hacker is sooner. Computer geeks living in their parents basements, the last bastion of male chauvinism. Also a good reason to hire an adult to do your computer work.
Last year when I gave “When Harry Met Molly” a C, some of you asked why not a lower grade. At the time I mentioned that she wrote in complete sentences and didn't make any glaring grammatical errors. It was clearly a first book, & you've gotta give a writer some credit for doing what you can't. Christina Dodd is by no means a new author, so no slack given. Nor is any slack deserved. This book defines phoning it in. But why a D instead of an F, you ask? I've graded on a curve. I read the next book in the series (Cock-eyed optimism thy name is Donna), and it was WORSE.
I hear time heals all wounds. So maybe some day I'll be able to curl up on a rainy-snowy-feeling crappy sort of day with a cup of tea and That Scandalous Evening, but it won't be for a while.