Author: Nora Roberts
No. of Pages: 272 pages
First Published: 1988
Synopsis (Courtesy of B&N): “Superstar mystery novelist Grace McCabe needs to unwind after a grueling book tour, and visiting her sister, whom she hasn’t seen in months, seems the perfect solution. But Grace is surprised to find the fastidious Kathleen living in a grungy Washington, D.C., neighborhood. Kathleen, reeling from a bitter divorce and the loss of her son, is saving every penny of her teacher’s salary to hire a hotshot lawyer for a custody battle.
Then Grace discovers that Kathleen is boosting her income with an unlikely profession: as an at-home phone-sex operator. Known as Desiree to the clients of Fantasy, Inc., Kathleen is living life on the edge. Yet how dangerous could it really be? With the ironclad anonymity the agency guarantees its employees, could anyone ever track her down?
Grace finds out one cherry-blossom-scented night when she comes home to find her sister dead, strangled with the cord of her “special” phone. Suddenly Grace’s life turns into a scene from one of her own books — the horror, the tight-lipped police, the shattered survivor. Only this time the survivor is Grace herself.
But she isn’t waiting around for the police to catch up with the killer. Instead she creates a daring trap to lure the killer to her. Her plan goes against every cool-headed instinct of Detective Ed Jackson, the lead investigator on the case. He’s read all of Grace’s books and might have been the perfect consultant for the one she’s working on, though in this real-life murder, she’s the last complication he needs.
He’s determined to keep Grace out of harm’s way, but it’s too late. Her trap has already worked. She has aroused the attention of a brilliant madman, and now nothing may be able to protect her from the murderous lust that drives this killer down a path of ecstasy laced with death.”
Comments and Critiques: I love Nora Roberts. She is my go-to author when I’m not in the mood to start anything heavy or intense. Call her my guilty pleasure, but I have almost her entire body of literature in my home library and often re-read several of them throughout the year. This was my first re-read of this particular book in several years. After reading her latest works, this particular one left me flat. I could not connect to Grace or Ed. The dialogue didn’t flow; the sparks did not fly. To top it off, I could tell how dated this book was by the fact that Grace smoked like a chimney. Her latest books makes no mention of that particular vice. I found it distracting every time Ms. Roberts mentioned that Grace lit another cigarette – not just distracting but downright revolting.
The suspense that highlights most of her novels was missing. The plot was predictable with no surprise ending. If I were to do the research, I would suspect that this would be among Ms. Roberts’ first novels in the suspense/romance genre. When compared to her later works, this one just does not compare.
I still love Nora Roberts, but this would not be one I would recommend to friends. If anything, it was a nice trip down memory lane and is a great exercise to see just how much Ms. Roberts’ writing has improved over the years. Will I read it again? If the mood strikes me, then I probably will. But then again, I am a sucker for anything by Nora Roberts.