One Night In Paradise
One Night in Paradise uses a convention that really bugs me – namely that the unattractive woman wearing a sweatshirt, baggy jeans, and glasses, when dressed appropriately and given contact lenses, is revealed as the true knockout she is. A friend of mine calls this Frizzy Hair Syndrome. Once the woman’s hair is straightened – kaboom! – she’s beautiful!
What bothers me doubly about this syndrome is the way the woman relates to her transformation and her new clothes. Some of them (Anne Hathaway, for example, in The Devil Wears Prada) learn to love them, revel in their newfound power. Others (Anne Hathaway, yet again, this time in The Princess Diaries) are uncomfortable and unsure and feel like they’ve lost themselves in the process. In both cases, I always feel like the clothes become and overcome the character. Carol, heroine of One Night in Paradise, falls into the latter category. She doesn’t like her black dress, and finds her contacts uncomfortable, but she puts up with them in order to seduce Detective Liam Taggert, and have her one night of passion.
Carol is a school librarian, with all the fashion sense the job stereotypically entails. What’s nice about Liam, however, is that he never notices her – not because of her clothes or her glasses or her job – but because every time he’s at the school, he’s focused solely on his son. He has never had to meet Carol in a professional capacity, so she’s below his radar. Carol, however, has definitely noticed Liam. Thus her plan is born. Simple, really: dress like a siren, pick him up at the bar, have her wicked way with him, and leave with memories to last her the rest of her life. Plans go haywire, though, when Liam decides that one night with Carol is not going to be enough.
This story is novella length, making it a nice, quick read. I really liked the characters and the strength of the emotional pull between them. I especially liked Carol, the shy woman who wants her dream man, her dream night, and sets about obtaining it. Her complete shock and sudden panic when her plan actually starts to work is charming and had me smiling at my monitor. I was also really pulled in to her insecurity and conviction that Liam would not be interested in her when he found out who she really was.
Liam is also nicely drawn, very sexy, but a devoted father. His persistence and patience are alluring. All in all, the characters are the best part of this story, well drawn and easy to empathize with.
I did find Carol’s behavior at the end a little over-the-top. Once her secret is out, her humiliation is understandable, but for someone who is as patient and even and calm as Carol both is, and is described as being, her reaction seems forced. The lack of resolution with Liam’s son was also frustrating.
The one problem I did have is one that seems to be cropping up in a lot of the e-books I’m reading lately – mainly the writing to a market. There were a couple of times in the course of the story when I thought the sex scenes were gratuitous and out of character for Liam and Carol. I understand the call is huge for erotic stories right now, but pushing a story beyond its natural boundaries can have detrimental consequences. I especially found this in the ending of One Night in Paradise when the story ended quite nicely and naturally, but kept going in order to include another sex scene.
Overall, I found One Night in Paradise gentle and easy, deftly written. Although I did struggle with the ending, it remained a very nice way to end my day.