Friday, September 10, 2010

Scarlet Nights by Jude Deveraux

Remember "Show and Tell" from your grade school days - bringing your most prized possessions from home to share with your class?  The best part was actually seeing the object, not the story that went with it.  When someone brought a particularly intersting article, everyone pressed forward to get a better look. We learned by being shown. The "tell" portion was mostly for the teacher's benefit - a brief statement of where you got the object or why you liked it to show that you had adequate command of verbal skills.  The same holds true in writing, thus the adage "Show, don't tell."  This book failed Show and Tell.

Engaged to the charming and seductive Greg Anders, Sara Shaw is happily anticipating her wedding in Edilean, Virginia. The date has been set, the flowers ordered, even her heirloom dress is ready. But just three weeks before the wedding, Greg gets a telephone call during the night and leaves without explanation. Two days later, a man climbs up through a trapdoor in the floor of Sara’s apartment, claiming that he is the brother of her best friend and that he’s moving in. He’s an undercover detective, and his assignment is to use Sara to track down a woman who is one of the most notorious criminals in the United States—and also happens to be the mother of the man Sara plans to marry.   As the pair work together to solve two mysteries, their growing love begins to heal each of them in ways they never could have imagined. (from publisher's synopsis)

I haven't read a Jude Deveraux novel for years, but was drawn to this one by the gorgeous cover art - I'm a sucker for a pretty picture.  The plots, both romance and mystery, were detailed and absorbing, but all too often information was revealed through a casual conversation or just thrown in like an afterthought and there was no feeling of participating in the story.  I have complained before about books that leave the reader feeling "out of the loop"; that feeling from junior high when everyone but you knew the secret.  The story would progress and then suddenly a character would say something like "Oh, my great-aunt had these rare rubies that I had embedded in the handle of this letter opener.  Could those be what the bad guys are searching for?"  (No there are no letter openers or missing rubies in this story - just an example.)  Seemingly random information that turned out to be crucial to the story, but with no foreshadowing or connection.

I'm not completely panning this book because there are three factors that may have added to my confusion.  One, I listened to the audio version and I'll admit my mind can be less than focused at times.  Two, this was the abridged version and perhaps the deleted portions were important. And three, I discovered after finishing the book that it is the third title in the Edilean series.  Perhaps it's not meant to stand alone. and it certainly explains why there was such sparse charactor history. 

As a lover of romantic suspense, I would give this book three out of five stars with a possibility of more if I try the print version and read books one and two first.


  1. That's too bad about this book. I used to read Jude Deveraux all the time too but I haven't in a long time. Maybe this is why. I love romantic suspense if it's done well. I don't think the publishers should even attempt an abridged version of this genre. They invariably leave out important details.

  2. I have read them all - and - they do all tie in together. Each book had me frustrated waiting for the next. I would suggest reading them in order as they really keep one guessing!