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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Deadly Kisses by Brenda Joyce

Deadly Kisses by Brenda Joyce
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Action/Adventure, Historical, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (384 pages)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 4.5 books
Reviewed by Water Lily

Called to the home of her fiancé's former mistress late one night, Francesca finds her curiosity piqued. But upon arrival, she is shocked to find Daisy Jones's bloodied body…and even more devastated when the evidence points to one suspect—her fiancé, Calder.

Francesca cannot—will not—believe that Calder is capable of such an act. Still, she is unable to shake her instinctive sense that Calder is lying about something. The police are far less inclined to believe his innocence, and Calder is arrested for Daisy's murder. But Francesca's heart is not easily swayed…until a life-altering secret is exposed that could destroy their future together.

This fun, fast, historical suspense is a re-release of Ms. Joyce’s 2006 title. Deadly Kisses is the second book I read in Ms. Joyce’s Deadly series, but it is not the second book in the series which began with Deadly Love published in 2001. Deadly Kisses is actually the eighth book in the series.

Even if you do not start at the beginning, and I didn’t, the Francesca Cahill books are addictive. The characters, especially Francesca, her fiancé Calder Hart, his half-brother police commissioner Rick Bragg, and several minor characters, are captivating. The plot is fast paced and interesting, but the dynamics between the characters is what keeps the pages turning. Would you support your fiancé if he was the main suspect in the brutal murder of his pregnant ex-mistress? Would you blithely step into a reputation-destroying scandal if you could avoid it? Francesca Cahill does. There’s something irresistible about a person who ignores the sound advice of friends, relatives and her lover to stand up for what and who she thinks is right. Francesca is loyal to a fault.

In my review of a previous title Deadly Illusions, I mentioned a few flaws and those continue in this installment as well. Francesca lives in a magic bubble in which danger isn’t dangerous. I never feared for her, or for Hart, or any of the characters really. Bad stuff happens, but I never had the feeling that it would be all that bad, last very long, or have truly long-term negative effects on the characters I cared about. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes, it’s exactly what a reader wants. I was reminded of the red-shirted characters in the landing party of the old series Star Trek. They were the ones to die. There is no doubt who is going to “get it” in these books, which makes Deadly Kisses a bit predicable, but that’s okay. The reader knows what to expect getting when she picks up one of these books and she gets it.

Brenda Joyce does not disappoint.

If Deadly Kisses is your first Francesca Cahill book there will appear to be several red herrings in the book—details that, while interesting, bring up conflicts that don’t really have anything to do with anything. These are plot threads which were raised in previous titles and are unresolved. It appears Ms. Joyce is reminding the reader that those issues remain unresolved but haven’t been forgotten. I expect their resolution in Deadly Vows, the ninth title in this series. Deadly Vows is sitting on my shelf awaiting my attention. I’m looking forward to it. And when I’m done, I’m going to get my hands of the rest of this series because, like Lime Tostitos, these books are addictive.