Public Scandal, Private Mistress by Susan Napier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It doesn't take much for me to enjoy a Susan Napier book. I think she's a fantastic writer. I like the way she creates her characters. Luc and Veronica were no different. I do want to take exception to the cover, because it doesn't reflect how the characters look. Luc has almost shoulder-length black hair that he keeps in a short ponytail, and Veronica has reddish-brown hair and is very abundantly curved. When I read the book, I ignored the cover, and formed my own image of them.
Luc and Veronica get together on Bastille Day in Paris (a spontaneous decision on normally very cautious Veronica's part), and ended up enjoying a night of steamy passion. Veronica sneaks out of Luc's apartment while he is sleeping, thinking a one-night interlude was all that was in the cards with a sexy Frenchman that she went home with on an uncharacteristic whim. She jumps on her train headed for the South of France, and keeps seeing Luc along the way on her journey. Is he following her? It turns out he thinks she's following him, and she's some sort of paparazzi. He then tells her something extremely rude, which I won't repeat. It floored me a little, since Ms. Napier's heroes are not usually mean like that. A little later on, I found out why he had that reaction, and I forgave him, and so did Veronica. Veronica arrives at her destination, the vacation home of her sister's recently former employers, where she is staying for the remaining time of her holiday. To her surprise, Luc shows up, and it turns out he's the step-son of her sister's employer, Melanie. Veronica's feckless sister decides to ditch her sister (and their planned vacation together) for a chance to do a modeling shoot in the Bahamas, and volunteers Veronica to work for Melanie for her time at their vacation home. Veronica can't really get out of it, since her sister convinced Melanie that she'd be fine with it. So, she's stuck there with her ex-one night stand, who Melanie volunteers to chauffeur her around the area to check out the cuisine on Melanie's behalf (Melanie is a food writer), since she broke her arm and has limited mobility. Veronica is starting a gift-buying business, so that actually works out for her to investigate the local culture and crafts. The only scary part is hanging out with Luc, who she is still very susceptible to. And Luc is more than happy to pick up where they left off. Veronica might have been okay with a one-off one night stand, but she doesn't want to risk her heart on a sex-only affair.
I'll be the first to tell you that I don't particularly care for romances with one night stands or flings. Just not my thing. I don't find it particularly romantic. But, Ms. Napier writes this story so well, I was captivated. The emotions and the connection was there, and you could see that Luc pursuit of Veronica was about more than sex, and Veronica's feelings deeper than just the physical. Ms. Napier's beautifully-descriptive writing took me to the South of France, where the lush heat and surroundings immersed me into the story. I felt the strong attraction between Luc and Veronica, how they might have met casually, but something compelling will keep them together.
I liked that Veronica was a normal kind of woman, like someone you know, with a curvy body that Luc appreciated. And Luc was a sexy nerd who was inventing robots and selling them around the neighborhood as a boy (helping to finance his Oxford education), and is a millionaire in his late twenties, due to his financial savvy. He's very down-to-earth (not to mention sexy) and approachable, which causes him trouble when he gets into a situation with an old flame (who is presently married to a prominent man in the government) that is captured in the tabloids as a very sordid event, which explains his nasty behavior towards Veronica when they first meet again (since he thought she was trying to set him up). Pretty soon, Luc realizes that Veronica is the woman he's been looking for for a long time, and he's going to take measures to make her his.
There were many small, wonderful touches in this book, typical for Susan Napier. I wish she wrote more often, because she writes so well. I'll buy every book she publishes. She didn't let me down with this book. Public Scandal, Private Mistress was a great summer read, very enjoyable and a nice, quick read (a great way to wind down on a very hot Texas summer day).
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