India Grey – “The Italian’s Defiant Mistress”

4 Aug

GENRE: Romance / Contemporary
PUBLISHED: Mills & Boon Modern, 2007

WHY THIS NOVEL: It was “in stock” and I had the author’s name on my list of authors to try.

The back blurb:
The Italian billionaire’s inexperienced mistress

Eve Middlemiss has come to Florence desperate for information. And only darkly good-looking multimillionaire Raphael di Lazaro, heir to the Lazaro Fashion House, holds the answers she’s searching for. Surrounded by glamour and decadence, Eve is totally out of her depth – until she realises she is the one Raphael wants!

If becoming the Italian’s mistress is what it takes to find out the truth about her family, Eve realises she must feign the sophistication and experience she’s sure Raphael is accustomed to – but that means making herself available to his every desire …

The Italian’s Defiant Mistress is India Grey’s first novel and although it didn’t blow me away, it showed enough promise to make me think about reading another one by her. Also, I liked her way to write.

Eve’s twin sister Ellie died of drugs two years ago. Naturally, Eve wants to find out what happened and she wants to expose the one responsible (Ellie’s dealer). The only clue she has is a note that leads her to believe it was Raphael who helped Ellie with the drugs. So she goes off to Florence to take a closer look at him.

Raphael is a famous photographer and left the family business behind a few years ago since he isn’t really into all the glitter that comes with it. He returns to Italy because he gets an prestigious award for his work and meets Eve at his father’s fiftieth anniversary retrospective. Eve is there taking the place of her friend, a journalist for a fashion magazine, to get a closer look at the di Lazaro’s. In real life, she works at an university. Raphael and Eve are attracted to each other right away (liked that scene); it’s later, after they discover who the other really is, that the problems arise. Raphael hates journalists (there is a background story there) and Eve believes him responsible for her sister’s death. I was okay with Raphael; it’s the heroine that bothered me (more).

There are three points which kept me from really enjoying this story:

  • the premise
    I wasn’t on board about how the story was set up. I couldn’t really understand why Eve thought she could find out something about her sister’s death by confronting her sister’s drug dealer and see that he got what he deserved. All I could think was: “It was your sister’s decision to take the drugs. How can another person be responsible for that. Do you jump from a bridge just because another person says ‘Looky, a bridge. Go jump from it!’ ?” I didn’t really see the bravery of Eve’s behaviour.
    Also, I couldn’t really believe that Eve could substitute for her friend as a journalist at a very important event of the fashion world and the her friend’s boss would be okay with that. Wouldn’t she check at least Eve’s background as a journalist and come up empty? And: she’s heading a major fashion magazine and has no other, in-house journalists who could cover for Eve’s friend?
  • check-marking the romance staples
    For example, Eve wears glasses (and apparently needs them*) but almost all the time in the story, she is without them; she goes shopping for expensive underwear before she leaves for Florence and of course that’s something she never did before; there’s a scene that involves swimming and nakedness; Eve wanders around in a city she knows nothing about but manages to stumble upon Raphael and another woman in a back alley; .. you get my drift, I think.
    [* Could someone please explain to me how you manage to have difficulties getting a tape into a recorder you have in your hands because you can’t see properly without your glasses and at the same time see clearly how someone looks you in the eye I don’t know how many meters/feet away at a press conference? I could use this little trick myself.]
  • questionable reasoning on the heroine’s part
    Some of the heroine’s reasoning just didn’t work for me. I already mentioned I had trouble with the premise of the story, but throughout the story itself, there are more things that made me “huh?” The scene at the swimming pool, for example. Eve gets caught there naked by Raphael. Her reasoning for not putting her newly bought super-expensive bra right back on or walking into the pool house to put her clothes on there are … I didn’t get it. Instead she opts to just stand there until he goes because she can’t possible show her behind to him. So smart. And why did she jump into the pool in her expensive underwear in the first place? How about going back to the house and looking for something less expensive or a top or just go in there nude (which was the goal of the scene anyway).
    Really, such small things, if they pile up, can make me pretty exasperated. It’s not that the heroine loses her brain every time the hero is around, I can live with that, it’s that I had the impression that the heroine’s behaviour was governed by story demands, making her often look like a woman without common sense IMO, that did it.

So, if The Italian’s Defiant Mistress is a typical Harlequin Presents / Mills & Boon Modern novel, then I probably better stick with the ones by Helen Brooks. Again, it wasn’t that there was anything “wrong” with the writing itself. In fact, I liked Grey’s sense for timing and structure and the novel is smoothly written and enjoyable to read. It was the over-the-topness, the over-use of romance staples, and the heroine that kept me from enjoying this story more. But since my problems are rather “content” problems than problems with the writing itself, I’m not against trying another novel by Grey. There’s one with a lawyer and an environmentalist which looks interesting.

Would I recommend this novel? Probably not.

Would I read this novel again? Probably not

Grade: 3 / 5


2 Responses to “India Grey – “The Italian’s Defiant Mistress””

  1. Carolyn Jean Wednesday, August 6, 2008 at 4:22 am #

    Thanks for the review…where did I just read something about this? I think on Meljean Brooks site. I’m like you, I need the reasoning and logic to work for me.

  2. Taja Wednesday, August 6, 2008 at 8:11 am #

    Ah, that’s probably where I saw it, too. I couldn’t remember from where I had the name, thank you. Sadly, this one wasn’t completely to my taste (and I hope I don’t come across as too harsh).

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