REVIEW: Gilded Secrets by Maureen ChildSunday, September 9, 2012 1:00
I’ve been putting off writing this review. Why? Because I couldn’t think of much to say about it. It isn’t a standout book, but it’s moderately enjoyable and I read it to the end.
Gilded Secrets is the beginning of a series set in and about an auction house and one particular item, the Golden Heart, which an elusive character, Roarke, is hunting down, Indiana Jones style. Roarke will undoubtedly be the subject of the last book.
This book is about a director of the house, Vance Waverly, and his assistant, Charlotte Potter. However, the initial situation isn’t about Vance and Charlotte. It’s about another director who is suspected of having an affair with the director of the rival auction house. I get the feeling they’ll be hot property in another book, but in this one, they serve more as boring distractions.
In fact, there is so much plot, it threatens to edge out Vance and Charlotte and their romance. I can’t blame Child entirely for this. In continuity series, the first and the last books are sometimes overburdened with plot, and it takes a skillful author to incorporate it all seamlessly, especially when the author herself hasn’t drawn up the basic plot. That is usually down to the editors. They’ll draw up a basic storyline, decide which bits of the plot will appear in each book, and then leave it to the author to do their thing and write a convincing romance.
While the characters of Vance and Charlotte are reasonably well depicted, the plot does them no favors. Charlotte is persuaded to spy on Vance. She’s a single mother, and there’s a totally ludicrous threat that she will lose her child if she doesn’t do this. Why she didn’t just find out for sure from someone, I don’t know, but she behaves like the stupidest person from Stupidville in this aspect, so I couldn’t believe in her intelligence. I wanted to shake her, tell her to get a grip. But if she had, there wouldn’t have been much of a book.
Vance Waverly – am I the only person who kept thinking of the wrinkly Mr. Waverly from The Man From U.N.C.L.E.? – is trying to save his auction house. Although the house is called Waverlys, he’s the last one on the board active with the company. Vance is quite sketchily drawn. Alpha, showing a few indecisive moments, and harsh with Charlotte, or Charlie at first.
I’m afraid I didn’t really warm to Charlie, mainly because she is so gullible. The book seems to be predicated on external plot, i.e., the blackmail, and I really prefer a book that deals with the internal conflicts of the couple. Except by the really, really tired “I don’t do marriage” trope, which is okay when it’s properly explained, but not when it’s just part of the scenery.
On page 77, I made a note, “the plot is unbelievable and the romance is going nowhere. Bored now.” At one point in the story, Charlie is getting nervous and crumbling a doughnut on her plate. It says something that I was totally distracted by the doughnut. Can you crumble a fresh doughnut, or does it go into a kind of mushy sausage? Or perhaps she liked stale doughnuts?
The plot doesn’t get any more believable. Until it gets to a totally wtf? moment. But it’s so bound up with the plot, that even doing it under a spoiler alert would be bad. Suffice it to say that she fails to recognize someone she has reason to know really well. It just doesn’t work for me.
And what’s with the amateur sleuthing she and Vance undertake? She’s being blackmailed. The notes are on a computer, but at no point do either she or Vance get a techie in to try to trace the source of the notes. Why not? Even if the perp sent the notes from an Internet café, they could have discovered the location.
Too busy getting into each others’ pants to think straight, presumably.
The cute kid is an annoyance. I tend to avoid books with children in them, because the kids are usually cute and often precocious. This one is no exception and always, always sleeps through marathon sex sessions.
So although I usually enjoy Maureen Child’s books, and this one is well written, the plot and characters make it a disappointment for me.
When scandal threatens the luxury auction house that bears his family’s name, Vance Waverly suspects the media feeding frenzy is an inside job. Could his gorgeous assistant, Charlotte Potter, be plotting Waverly’s downfall? There’s one way to find out: seduce the truth out of her!Charlie is between a rock and a hard place. She can reveal Waverly’s secrets to her unidentified blackmailer or lose custody of her child. Whatever she does, she’ll lose the career she loves. But losing the man she’s come to love—her big, bad boss—could put her over the edge….
Read an excerpt.