The Pleasure Trap
We first meet Eve Dearing as a child. She is sleeping in a hotel and her mother calls to her in her dreams. When she wakes up, her mother’s dog is beside her bed, soaked with rain. Through her mother’s side of the family (the Claverleys), Eve inherited mystical gifts. Eve can read her mother’s mind and quickly finds her at the bottom of a quarry. When her mother tells her that her fall was an accident, Eve knows that she is lying, but doesn’t understand why. Her mother tells her to be careful and projects an image of the future into Eve’s mind. After her mother dies, Eve goes to live with a Claverley aunt and tries to suppress her gift. She becomes a Gothic writer and next uses the gift during a writing symposium, where she also happens to meet Ash Denison.
Previously a soldier in the Spanish Campaign, Ash was asked by a comrade to ferret out the true identity of the writer Angelo, who published several stories for a newspaper. His fellow man-in-arms is upset because he believes that one of the stories is about his family and his home. The story describes a death that occurs on the property and hints that it might not have been an accident. Ash reluctantly looks into the matter until he too recognizes his family on the pages of the newspaper. Then he actively seeks out the author who calls himself Angelo to see why he thinks that Ash’s brother’s death might not have been an accident. This involves talking to writer Eve Dearing.
At first the two butt heads, but then they are both present in some sensual shared dreams, which moves their relationship forward. Ash, who never wanted to get married and carry on the family line, suddenly wants to be with Eve all the time. And Eve, who also turned her back on marriage, finds herself wanting Ash a great deal. Together, they try to solve the mysteries that are going on around them – an attack, a murder, who Angelo is and what his involvement is in their loved ones’ deaths – but Eve is anxious about sharing her secrets with Ash. Her mother and father had problems in their marriage because of the “Claverley charisma”, and she doesn’t want the same for herself.
I had an issue with Eve’s “Claverley charisma”, starting with the term’s overuse throughout the book. A bigger problem was that both Eve and her mother were so gifted in so many areas I couldn’t handle it. Eve could read the thoughts, character, and memories of people; she could trap another person in a dream with her, like with Ash; and her mother could apparently do these things and transport images into people’s minds, as well as tell the future. When I had finally forced myself to just go with the flow, all of a sudden Eve felt her dead mother’s presence and could read signs in the moonlight. I’m a big fan of the paranormal, but this much mysticism seemed out of place and became hokey.
Along that vein, the addition of sensual dreams in Eve and Ash’s relationship bothered me. It was such a big step for them, but it wasn’t even real, not to mention the fact that they generally had better conversations in the dreams than they rarely had in the conscious world. I’ve been told time after time that new authors shouldn’t include dream sequences in novels, but I never understood why. This author is hardly new, but it is probably for this reason. The dreams were supposed to add to the story and be incredibly meaningful and life-changing, but in my opinion they never should have been included.
The dreams were supposed to propel a relationship, but there wasn’t much to propel. After Ash and Eve were supposed to have turned the corner and started to care for each other, there were many moments of surprise for me regarding them, because the author told me rather than showing me. A simple passage might say something like Eve knew that Ash was a kind and thoughtful man, and it would bring me up short. I would rack my brain trying to remember when Eve had been presented with evidence of such a thing and I wouldn’t be able to recall anything. There were many instances like this. It was as if there were a bunch of clichéd lines, phrases, and paragraphs that are just expected to be in a romance that were thrown in, but didn’t actually have a basis in the storyline. There really wasn’t any relationship development. It was as if the two woke up one day and realized that they couldn’t live without this person that they just met.
On the whole this book struck me as odd. There was a plot and a direction, but the writing style felt choppy to me. The mystery was decent, and its resolution surprised me. But the mystical element was off, as was the relationship. The Pleasure Trap was less than pleasurable.