08 Nov '11

Nix Review – Dangerous Charade by Elizabeth Means – 4.5 stars

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Gabrielle Broussard runs away from her family home after her Uncle tries to marry her off to a sadistic man to repay a gambling debt. She finds herself working for a private investigative firm and, after only weeks of intensive training, finds herself on her first case. Posing as a Governess to a 2 year old child, Gabrielle infiltrates the home of Lord Blackwell to find out if he really has killed his wife. Upon arrival at the Castle, Gabrielle finds herself unfortunately attracted to her number one suspect and, even more unfortunately, finds that he is as equally attracted to her. Whilst trying to fight her feelings towards Julian, trying to fend off his amorous advances and trying to find the murderer, Gabrielle realises that her first case is more trying than first expected. Whilst suspects start pouring out of the woodwork, someone seems intent on making sure that Gabrielle doesn’t uncover the real truth. Will she make it out of her first case alive?

This is a fun, silly tale that kept me so engrossed I missed my bus stop on my way home from work. It reminded me of a cross between a Jane Austin novel and a pink panther movie; it was escapism at its best. The crime (and I say crime rather than suspense because it is just so daft) is the sub-plot, but its twists and turns kept the Romance plot moving forward. Gabrielle is forced to run after her odious Uncle tries to marry her off to the man who basically says he is going to marry her, force himself upon her and then leave her broken. To be honest, I applauded her decision because that man is a dick. When she first arrives at the Castle, she’s about as subtle as a brick through a window whilst questioning the staff about the death of the mysterious Lady Blackwell. Honestly, the woman is supposed to be undercover, but she blundered around and it was no great surprise when she aroused the suspicion of the actual killer. I often wondered how the other characters didn’t question her behaviour however she was left unchecked by everyone for the majority of the book. Her behaviour towards Julian is a little clumsy too, but it was understandable and sweet. She couldn’t fight her feelings towards him but was torn between the strength of them and her determination to do her job right. I don’t think that she ever truly believes that he is the murderer, but the job is all that stands between her and marriage to a dreadful man; she cannot afford to let her feelings influence her judgements. The burgeoning relationship between the two of them is actually quite entertaining to watch; she really is quite a head-strong, snarky character and she struggled with his dominant personality. The age difference was quite apparent at several points in the story in her constant change of feelings towards him (which was quite tiring). I did like her; she reminded me a little of Alexia from the Parasol Protectorate novels with her desire for fashion and weapons disguised as accessories. She was a pretty useless PI and I’m sure she wouldn’t have solved the case effectively if the killer hadn’t basically confessed all!

Hot with dark hair and green eyes??
Julian was never going to be
anyone but Ruben Cortada 🙂
Julian is a dreamy character. Lord of the Manor with roguish good looks and a pretty good seduction technique; there wasn’t any way she was resisting his charms for long. He marries his former wife when she falls pregnant with his child. The marriage is loveless and broken which leaves him wary of women in general. At one point he questioned whether he was so un-loveable that women will only marry him for his money….I wanted to jump into the pages and give him a hug! When he meets Gabrielle he doesn’t realise that she is his new Governess, he thinks she is only another woman out for his money. In trying to prove what a gold digging tart she really is, he unwittingly falls under her spell, a spell that grows in strength when he realises that she isn’t interested in him.  He really was cunning in his plan to woo her; first he changes the details of her employment so she becomes his escort rather than his Governess, then he ply’s her with romantic picnics and dinners in the guise of “planning” their behaviour at the next ball. He had all the hallmarks of a fantastic hero; I would love to see him in future books.

An enjoyable romp with some sizzling romance and a who-done-it that kept me guessing until the end. With a hero that I know I could grow to adore and a hero whose antics made me giggle, this is a wonderful romance that I read through in one sitting. 



Nix

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