Saturday, November 5, 2011

Brazen by Carly Phillips

First published in 1999, but don't let that fool you. Just because it was her first release with Harlquin, don't think for one minute this book is missing anything that makes Carly the terrific best-selling author she is!

After I plowed through Under the Boardwalk, I felt compelled to read this one. While it didn't offer me a crime story and even though I really did feel romanced-out, I found I could not put this book down either.

Honestly, I really sat down and thought about what it was about this one and Under the Boardwalk that made them enjoyable despite the fact that they were both romances.

Well, the crime element in Under the Boardwalk makes that a no-brainer for me. The romance feels in the background to the crime element woven around the main characters.

However, finding a reason for Brazen to be enjoyable even though I feel saturated by romance seemed tough...at first. After giving it some more thought, I realized that the same reason applies here.

If you've read the book's blurb, you might be scratching your head and asking, "Huh?"

Honestly, it's true. The romance itself isn't really the driving force of the story, but a consequence or happenstance of it. Plus, there are characters like the three old men in here that just crack me up! Bear's father - can't remember his name at the moment - has to be the best.

I know some readers felt these characters were flat and unbelievable, I didn't feel that and I'm certainly no pushover when it comes to characters. You knew what the characters looked like, and you knew what drove them.

In a nutshell, Samantha Reed felt beholden to look after her father, and agreed to a marriage of convenience for the sake of money to save her father - just as many women were expect to do in Victorian London, and some women even in today's society will do. She's on her way to a resort thinking she'll hook-up with some guy for a last, "hurrah," before she gets married. On the way through the desert, her rental car breaks down. She happens to remember that she passed a local bar, so she decides to walk the highway the couple of miles to it. Like Joan Wilder in Jewel of the Nile, Samantha didn't pack clothing and footwear with the expectation of hiking, so she ended up walking barefoot on the stones rather than risk turning an ankle wearing her heels. She walks into the bar, and the bartender - Mac - takes one look at her disheveled appearance/clothing and realizes that she's not a townie. To create some distance between her "future" and her "now" Samantha tells Mac to call her Sam. However, he doesn't like that name and doesn't feel it fits her, but he ends up calling her Sammy Jo. As the story unfolds, Samantha begins to feel comfortable as Sammy Jo, and begins to cast off some of the inhibitions she has as Samantha.

Mac also happens to suffer from "white-knight" syndrome - meaning he can't turn his back on a woman in need. Instantly, he feels the physical chemistry and believes there could be more between them. His past heartache leads him to lie by omission as to who he really is. Yes, his name is "Mac", but there's much more to it than that. Of course, she's not so truthful either and neglects to mention that she has a fiance waiting for her at the resort. That plays a big part in their story...while lies can protect your heart, they don't make for a good relationship foundation.

Sure, it's a bit convenient Sam's rental car breaks down, but hey, maybe there were signs telling her to turn off her air or the car will over heat. Maybe someone shirked duties at the rental place and sent out a car that wasn't really road worthy. It surely wouldn't be the first time a rental broke down on someone. Hey, I suffered a high-grade ankle sprain, and even though I can walk normally and have rehabbed my ankle, it's not strong enough anymore to wear heels, so I say she was pretty smart not to risk it! Those who say Samantha and Mac are flat or unbelievable do not realize the strength a death promise can hold over you or how money changes your life and can bring out the "diggers". Tom Selleck is a rich man, but he lives on an avocado ranch and does quite a bit of the work himself when he's not making movies or tv shows. So, why is it so hard to accept the fact that a rich guy might pretend to be an average-Joe to weed out gold-diggers in order to find someone who can like him for he is not how much money he has?

Sorry, but I found the story credible enough, and I found the characters to be complex enough given that the story is shorter than most stand-alone novels. If you're a Carly Phillips fan, this one should be a must read! :D

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