A while back Jane at Dear Author blogged that she often bought Mills & Boon Modern releases, and specifically mentioned Caitlin Crews’ Katrakis’s Last Mistress. It will be re-issued by Harlequin as a Presents in 2011, but I ordered a copy from Book Depository (love the free shipping!).
It arrived last week and languished on my coffee table until today.
Payback . . . delivered on a silver platter
Notorious Nikos Katrakis was looking for a new mistress when, out of the blue, heiress Tristanne Barbery offered herself to him. Could satisfaction and revenge really be that easy to obtain?
Tristanne knew better than to play games with a man of such devastatingly lethal charisma as Nikos. But, though she had a good idea of the kind of sacrifice she was offering, she had no choice.
To Nikos’s surprise, Tristanne was not the weak, biddable good-time girl he’d expected . . . and soon his plans for vengeance came crumbling down around him.
The cover art: Quite appropriate in this case – I am impressed! There is a scene in the book in which the heroine wears a scanty red dress while the hero is in formal attire, and while this dress looks longer than the dress described in that scene, it comes pretty close.
The book opens with Tristanne joining a party on Nikos’s yacht and asking him for a kiss, then following that up with an offer to be his new mistress. They’ve never met before or even been introduced, but each is aware of who the other is: Tristanne saw Nikos once ten years before and never forgot him, struck by his air and looks, while Nikos has been plotting revenge against the Barbery family because Tristanne’s brother, Peter, ruined his sister and nearly toppled the family business. Underlying Tristanne’s proposition is Peter’s blackmail: he won’t release her trust fund or pay for her mother’s medical treatment unless she more or less whores herself out for his business interests. Tristanne sees Nikos as an attractive target who will please her sleazy brother but has no intention of there being any sex involved. [Yeah, I’m not sure what mistressing entails other than sex, but the no sex part didn’t seem realistic to me. :shrug:]
Anyway, after some verbal fencing and internal bemusement, they eventually succumb to their attraction and have loads of hot sex while vacationing on the Mediterranean. The hot sex is followed by the successful execution of Nikos’s plan to humiliate and ruin the Barbery family, which breaks Tristanne’s heart but also leaves him feeling empty and blighted. Since this is a category romance, there must be a happily ever after, so after drowning his regrets in whiskey and feeling sorry for himself, Nikos hunts Tristanne down and grovels appropriately, apologizing for his revenge and ruination of their relationship. Et voila, all is well again.
KLM has many of the standard HP tropes, but is better than most, I think. I really liked that Tristanne stood up to Nikos and didn’t let him walk all over her during their relationship. Their banter and debates worked really well to demonstrate how their minds matched. Also liked that the hero really did seem to recognize the wrong he was doing, even as he did it, and regretted it later: so often the alpha heroes of romance novels blunder over things and never apologize for the damage they do.
The only things that really made me roll my eyes were: 1) the utter sleaze of the bad guy of the book, Tristanne’s half brother, Peter; and 2) the weak use/excuse of Tristanne’s mother. Her illness (and I’m not really clear on what the illness is or why she doesn’t qualify for government subsidized medicine, since she seems to live in Europe) is what is forcing the entire plot, yet Tristanne spends zero time with her and she has no page space. Further, she apparently let Tristanne essentially be disowned as a teenager but now is expecting her to provide for her care?
This was a quick, fun read, and I look forward to reading more from Ms. Crews.