Author Lynn Kerstan drew me in to her latest trilogy with an intriguing premise. Men and women, who have something to prove, or repent, are drafted by the mysterious Black Phoenix organization to investigate criminal activity under societyís watchful eye. The lead-off story, Dangerous Deceptions, was a page-turning delight, with something new around every corner. I wish I could say the same for the second book in the series.
Dangerous Passions starts off, in my opinion, muddled. If I had not known the premise behind the Black Phoenix organization, I would have been hopelessly lost. Only vague mention is made of it, and the reader is left wondering why the characters are behaving as they do.
Colonel Lord Marcus Cordell seems to be an honorable man, a decorated hero of the Napoleonic Wars. It is easy to see why he would be interested in stopping a crime, but not so easy to see why he would put up with the histrionics that come along with the Black Phoenix plans. False stories, disguises and the like do not match the picture of this soldier. Even if he were a spy, which he was not, the organizationís contrived plan would be enough to make him flee the room. I did ultimately grow to like his character, but never thought he was a good fit for the book.
The heroine, Lady Eve Halliday, is by far the most stricken character in the book. For reasons that are not even made clear to the readers, she has an axe to grind against the Colonel, and has agreed to this charade to wield it. Agreeing to fake a betrothal to a man she loathes on sight sounds a bit extreme, especially when they had never met! Even when faced with overwhelming evidence that Cordell is an honest, honorable man, she never wavers from her plan to discredit him.
I was deeply disappointed in this book. I thought perhaps I had missed something and re-read several chapters. Ms. Kerstan seems to have veered off course with Dangerous Passions, and I hope she returns to form with the next installment.