Private Relations
Grade : B-

So far, the books I’ve read in the Do Not Disturb miniseries, set at New York’s sex-themed Hush Hotel, have been fairly good. The same can be said of book four, Nancy Warren’s Private Relations, although I couldn’t help wishing the subplot had been swapped for the main one.

Kit Prestcott and Peter Garson were college sweethearts who planned to be married. But on their wedding day, Peter developed cold feet on his way to the church and never showed up, leaving Kit standing at the altar. Now Kit is the public relations director for the Hush Hotel. Her latest promotion is a Fantasy Weekend contest. Entrants will write a brief essay describing their sexual fantasy, and four winners will be chosen to come to Hush for one weekend to make their fantasy reality. But when the first winner arrives, she learns he’s none other than Peter, her runaway groom.

Peter always regretted hurting Kit and he wants to make amends. When the woman who was supposed to be his guide for the weekend fails to show, Kit has to take her place, spending time with a man she’d much rather avoid. The sexual attraction between them soon reignites, but she knows all too well he can’t be trusted with her heart.

As usual, the author’s writing is very sharp. I’ve been impressed by Warren’s skill in previous books and really think she’s one of the better series authors today in terms of her writing ability. Here, she delivers a well-developed and complex story. Unlike many Blazes, there’s more development of the central relationship beyond the sex, which should prove more satisfying for those who find the line lacking in that respect. Obviously being humiliated by this man in front of her friends and family is not something the heroine is going to be able to get over easily. Though she tries to put up a brave front early on, he hurt her deeply, and it’s only a matter of time before she expresses that. There’s a real sense of her overcoming his abandonment and slowly regaining her trust for him over the course of the story that worked well. The book isn’t as hot as some Blazes and doesn’t take as much advantage of the sexy possibilities the hotel has to offer as other books in the series, but there is a nice fantasy feel that compensates. Even better, there are some romantic scenes and effectively emotional moments along the way that bolster the storyline.

My biggest reservation is that I never really warmed up to the main characters, particularly Peter. Running away from his wedding because he got scared made him seem weak, and the way he orchestrated their reunion, forcing Kit to be with him, made him seem manipulative. There’s also a scene about halfway through the book where it’s revealed he completely misjudged one of the secondary characters for stupid reasons, making him seem completely clueless. How can an author redeem a man who walks out on the woman he loves on their wedding day? Apparently by shifting part of the blame to her, something that didn’t earn Peter or the book any points with me. I suppose this could be viewed as a way of showing there are two sides to any relationship and both individuals play a part in any breakup. I admit that’s an admirably complex idea for a romance, particularly a series one. But Kit’s actions, as they were, weren’t nearly extreme enough to make me believe that any rational person would feel the need to run away rather than to talk to her.

But the secondary relationship makes up for it in a big way. It receives only a fraction of the attention the main one does, but I really liked it. It takes a while to emerge, so I probably can’t say much about it without venturing into spoiler territory. I will say that these characters had more warmth and their love story was sweeter than the main love story. It may be because this one is pure fantasy, so it comes across as more purely romantic. All I know is, I loved the scenes focusing on this subplot and often wished I was spending more time with these characters than the main ones.

Overall, Private Relations was good enough that I can give it a marginal recommendation. While some elements of the main relationship didn’t work for me, Warren is a strong storyteller who knows how to deliver a good story. For the most part, this is one.

Reviewed by Leigh Thomas

Grade: B-

Book Type: Series Romance

Sensuality: Hot

Review Date: 14/10/05

Publication Date: 2005/10

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