REVIEW: Lessons After Dark by Isabel CooperFriday, June 8, 2012 1:00
While most of this book has interesting points, mischievous magical children, and demons waiting to break through to the human world, what it lacks is hero and heroine interaction to make the romance between them the mainstay of the story.
And that’s even more frustrating when Olivia and Gareth are actually in scenes together, because they do have a chemistry that works, even when Gareth is suspicious and doesn’t like Olivia all that much because of her past. That frustration grows even more when they’ve become intimate. Those are some of the best scenes in the book, and by the time they’re working together to prevent demons from entering their world, it’s nearly too little too late.
Olivia has taken a position at a new school for students of magic. She’s a widow with a questionable past, so she’s looking at this opportunity as a new start. Upon arriving she finds the master and lady of the house out, so it’s Dr. Gareth St. John who welcomes her. After some thought, he realizes he’s seen her before years ago when she was a con artist. Gareth’s first impressions of her are instant and lacking any amicable feelings.
The doctor is just not able to get past the fact Olivia conned people out of their money. But he’s little by little attracted to her. He has to admire her calm when teaching and dealing with the students, however. Even after they’ve been intimate, he still doubts her. What I didn’t like about that is even after the second round of lovemaking, he never asks Olivia any questions about her past to see what actually happened to her. He’s more concerned with apologizing and getting out of the room. Olivia is having none of that, though. She flat out tells him not to apologize, they’re adults, so let it go. Of course, it’s easier said than done letting guilt go.
In between all of this are the students who are usually in one state of trouble or another. Out-of-control levitation, unpredictable weather, and demon calling are just a few of the issues Olivia has to deal with with these kids. For me, there’s too much interaction with the students and their problems. It all takes away from the romance in the story. Half of what’s there could have been told, giving more time to Gareth and Olivia, and you’d still get the idea of what they all have to overcome in everyday life at the school.
It’s actually not until the school’s master comes home with a very active curse making its way through his body that the story becomes really interesting and moves along nicely. Gareth and Olivia work together to beat the evil back, and this is the turning point in their relationship. Gareth finally begins to look past what he thinks he knows of Olivia. She eventually does tell him about her circumstances at the time and why she chose the path she did. While he feels those circumstances aren’t an excuse for those choices, at least he begins to look at her differently.
Near the end when they come together again to fight the demon brought forth by the students, again, these scenes are some of the best with Gareth and Olivia together. They aren’t romantic, but you can see how their working together bodes well for their future. I just want more romance between them. More pillow talk, if you will. More understanding sooner to make way for more lovemaking. These two characters are very dynamic when together and more of that is needed. Everything in the story is just too slow throughout when there’s less romance like this.
But despite this issue for me, I will try Ms. Cooper again. Her storytelling is nicely done, as are her story ideas. If any of her other books are completely like the last quarter of this book, that’s more than worth the time to read.
A woman with an unspeakable past
Olivia Brightmore didn’t know what to expect when she took a position to teach at Englefiend School, an academy for “gifted” children. But it wasn’t having to rescue a young girl who levitated to the ceiling. Or battling a dark mystery in the surrounding woods. And nothing could have prepared her for Dr. Gareth St. John…
A man with exceptional talent
He knew all about her history and scrutinized her every move because of it. But there was more than suspicion lurking in those luscious green eyes. Even with all the strange occurrences at the school, the most unsettling of all is the attraction pulling Olivia and Gareth together with a force that cannot be denied.
Read an excerpt. (scroll down)