Danger in a Red Dress
Danger in a Red Dress is evidently a part of a series, and I haven’t read the earlier entries. I had no trouble following along, but I must say that the more I read, the more I disliked the characters, and by the end of the book, I had not warmed up to them at all.
The story begins with home nurse Hannah Grey at the funeral of her patient Donald Dresser. The elderly Mr. Dresser was a tad cantankerous, but Hannah liked him and sincerely mourned his death. Not so his children, who are all lazy, selfish and impatient to get their hands on their father’s money. The attorney handling the estate asks Hannah to be at the reading of the will, and the Dresser siblings are outraged when they discover their father left her a large sum of money. Jeff Dresser accuses her of doing sexual favors for his father and enraged, Hannah blasts back with: “I took care of his….needs. I met his requirements. I was his friend….when he needed one. Make of that what you will.” The Dressers accuse Hannah of sexual impropriety and the state board suspends her nursing license pending an investigation, leaving her in limbo.
Hannah meets Carrick Manly who is from a prominent Maine family at a coffee shop, and he asks her to come nurse his mother who is suffering from multiple illnesses. Carrick has an ulterior motive. His multimillionaire father swindled people out of a ton of money, then hid the money, then disappeared. The federal government is after Mrs. Manly (they think she knows where the money is), but she isn’t talking. Carrick has hired Gabriel Prescott to bug the Manly home, and they plan to listen in on Hannah’s conversations with Mrs. Manly and maybe discover where the money is.
By the way, Gabriel Prescott is Carrick’s illegitimate half brother and has his own agenda when it comes to the Manly family.
Gabriel becomes quite enamored with Hannah, and Mrs. Manly grows fond of her as well even telling her all the family secrets and entrusting her with the code to the account (I will admit, this part of the book had me very confused as to why Mrs. Manly was so determined to keep things a secret). When Mrs. Manly decides to give her family’s traditional Halloween ball, Hannah thinks it’s a good idea, but during the ball things go terribly wrong, and Mrs. Manly dies under circumstances that make it look like Hannah killed her. Hannah escapes via a secret passage, leaving Gabriel to think she’s a murderer (but he still has the hots for her).
A year later Hannah shows up in Texas and runs into Gabriel again. The story gets more and more outlandish from there, and then everyone lives happily ever after. Fine – not that I cared all that much since my emotions weren’t engaged at all. The very idea of having the hots for someone whom you are about 99.9 percent sure is a murderer makes me wonder about your sanity, Gabriel. Yeah, sure – your family life sucked and you desperately want a sense of connection, but you are handsome, rich, have half brothers and sisters-in-law who all adore you, and, all in all, you are quite a catch. So you fall in love with a suspected murderess who is trailing bad attitude? Whatever.
As for Hannah, she really, really needs to engage her mind before she speaks. Her little speech to the Dresser family was the cause of all her problems and, granted, she was provoked, but as events show, Hannah is one of those people who acts first and then thinks later. Plus she is a terrible snob. While she’s in Texas, she hates it since there are so many people with lots of different accents. Honey, America is a melting pot with people here from all over the world, and unless you want to live under a rock you might as well get used to it.
If I am really engaged in a book, I tend not to notice problems until I close it. With Danger in a Red Dress, I was asking questions all through it. How did Hannah get a job at Wal-Mart while she was on the run? Didn’t they need a social security card? Hannah is employed, so why is she starving to death? And if she is suffering from malnutrition, how come she’s able to get the drop on Gabriel’s bodyguard, and handcuff him?
I can’t fault this book’s style – it’s smoothly told and easy to read – but I can’t say I liked it. I didn’t like Hannah at all, I was indifferent toward Gabriel, and, all in all, I was left pretty well underwhelmed.