Dangerous Passion by Lisa Marie Rice
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
OMG, I loved this book! The hero, the heroine, the story, the epilogue - yes, there's a very good and sigh-worthy epilogue in this book, yay! -, everything was just perfect, IMHO. I'm a devoted LMR fan but, as much as I enjoyed all her books, only the Midnight series earned 5 stars from me. Well, not anymore! Dangerous Passion has just made it too. :)
Victor "Drake" Drakovich is a dangerous arms dealer who lives a very secluded life. Due to his "profession", he has a lot of enemies who would be more than happy to end his life in the most violent and painful way, so he's very careful about not having any weaknesses that could be explored by them. Caring for someone would be a major weakness because his enemies wouldn't think twice before striking someone he cared for to get to him, so he doesn't have friends, he has extremely well-paid employees. And he doesn’t have lovers, he has sex partners. "Luckily" for him, he also doesn't have a family, since he doesn't even know where he was born and had never gotten himself emotionally attached to anyone all his life. But this solitary life of his changes when he meets Grace...
Grace Larsen is a struggling artist who's almost (but not quite) as solitary as Drake. She'd like to live to paint rather than paint to live, and the closest "friend" she has is the owner of the art gallery owner where she exposes her artwork. She doesn't have real friends, she has acquaintances. And, like Drake, she doesn't have a family either: her father left when she was nine years old, her mother let herself go after that, and there were no aunts or uncles or cousins to love her when her mother died. Grace has always felt like a misfit, and the only thing that she cares about is her art.
And it's her art that brings Drake and Grace together when, one day, he sees her paintings exposed through the window of the art gallery while stuck in traffic. He's fascinated by the paintings and, in a completely out of character behavior, goes into the art gallery to appreciate them more closely. While he's there, Grace walks in and, bam, in a true LMR fashion, he falls hard and fast for her. Only, he knows he can never be with her because that would make her a target in his enemies' eyes. So he leaves the art gallery unnoticed, and contents himself with buying (anonymously, of course) everything she paints. He also ditches his bodyguards and "escapes" from his tightly secure world to watch - okay, stalk - her from the alleyway outside the art gallery twice a month. This routine goes well for about a year, but a man full of enemies like Drake is bound to be betrayed by one of his employees sooner or later. And when one of his enemies discovers how obsessed he is with Grace and threatens her life in order to get to him, Drake knows it's time he pulled out all the stops and changed his life forever, for there's no way he'll ever let anything bad happen to her. So he takes her to his private "fortress" and pretty much stakes his claim, vowing to protect her with his life.
Grace is a bit shocked at first - seeing people die in front of you, being shot at and almost dying in the process will do that to anyone - but she senses a connection with, not to mention a strong atraction to, Drake and knows she can trust him, even though there's no doubt there's something dangerous about him. But, hey, he's a LMR hero so we all know that he's dangerous to everyone but the heroine. :)
I have to say, I didn't think Drake was hero material when I met him in Dangerous Lover, where he played a secondary role. I mean, he wasn't one of the good guys so I just dismissed him and forgot about him. That shows how clueless I am, LOL, because Drake has become one of my favorite heroes now that I read Dangerous Passion. He was strong, protective, caring, and he loved Grace so much that I was almost envious of her. ;)
Grace started out as the typical LMR heroine: beautiful, delicate, trusting, sweet and kind. But she got stronger as the story progressed, and I was pleasantly surprised to see her saving the day in the end. Very impressive! Kudos to LMR for changing her "formula" and giving us a more (sort of) kick-ass heroine.
As for the ending, I confess my eyes were a little misty (in a good way) when I closed the book. Hormones, I say! ;) This was the second LMR book in a row with a very good epilogue, so I guess she paid attention to her readers' "complaints" about the abrupt endings in her earlier books. Very well done, Ms. Rice!
All in all, this was an excellent read that only made me love LMR's writing more than I already did.
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