Tonight or Never
Tonight or Never is a problem to review. On one hand it has two of Dara Joy’s best characters, John, Viscount Sexton and Chloe Heart. Ms Joy’s male characters have all been wonderfully larger-than-life – so much so that they have almost overshadowed her female characters. Not so in Tonight or Never. Chloe Heart is Ms Joy’s best female character yet – smart, funny and a real match for the hero. I have enjoyed Ms Joy’s science fiction romances Rejar and Knight of a Trillion Stars enormously, but I have to admit the heroines of those books were too clueless to satisfy me.
So, on the one hand, I thoroughly enjoyed the characters in Tonight or Never. But on the other hand, the plot was a mess. It is set during the French Revolution and has a masked man, “The Black Rose,” smuggling doomed French aristocrats out of harms way a la The Scarlet Pimpernel. The Black Rose never held my interest and I often found myself skimming to get back to Chloe and John.
But do we read a Dara Joy book for a well-crafted, historically accurate plot? Of course not! We want loves scenes, right? And Tonight or Never delivers love scenes, boy does it ever!
John, Viscount Sexton is England’s premier lover known to the ton as “The Lord of Sex”. When he was 16 and she was 6, John appointed himself Chloe Heart’s friend and protector. He has always though of her as a little carrot-topped girl and has not seen her for two years. When John hears that Chloe has returned, he drops his latest amour and rushes off to see her. Chloe has changed. She is no longer just a skinny little red-haired girl; she is now a beautiful woman. Chloe has always loved John and sets out to tame “The Lord of Sex”.
The love scenes in the book are many and inventive. Lets just say than when John sets out to pull an all-nighter, that doesn’t mean he has to study for his history final tomorrow. Chloe and John make love in a bed, in a bath, in a greenhouse, on a balcony and in an armoire. They make love with great enthusiasm and have a lot of fun – especially in the bath where Chloe pretends to find a sea serpent in the water.
John is a wonderful hero. As the story unfolds and we (and Chloe) learn more about his past life, we come to know him and why he became such a rake. John may be a Viscount, but when his father gambled away his money and his mother died, the adolescent John was left with nothing but his good looks to get by on. Hence his reputation as “The Lord of Sex”.
I give this book an A- for the characters and love scenes, but a D for the plot. That averages out to about a C- for the whole book. I still think that Ms Joy’s best writing is in her science fiction romances, Knight of a Trillion Stars and Rejar, where she has interesting plots and great male lead characters. Now if Ms Joy can write a science fiction romance with a strong female character like Chloe Heart – I’ll set up camp outside the bookstore.