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Book Title: Midnight Jewels|
The author of the book: Jayne Ann Krentz
Date of issue: July 1st 1998
ISBN 13: 9780446606844
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 25.85 MB
Edition: Warner Books (NY)
Read full description of the books Midnight Jewels:This is another book from JAK's early career and it shows. The heroine, Mercy, is the epitome of TSTL and the hero, Croft, is arrogant and overbearing.
We begin the story with Mercy, a bookstore owner, having recently placed a magazine ad to sell a rare book she stumbled across at a flea market. She's already been contacted by a buyer who has insisted that she hand-deliver the book to his extremely remote estate in Colorado because he "doesn't trust the mail". Mercy agreed to this without a second thought and is planning to travel there alone. Is she insane? She knows absolutely nothing about this guy or where she's going other than that it's nearly inaccessible. That sounds like a recipe for rape and murder.
Croft has also seen Mercy's ad about the book and recognizes it as having belonged to an evil man he thought dead these last three years. This is a plot hole that never gets explained. First, Croft makes it very plain that he does not collect rare books, nor have any particular expertise where they're concerned. Also, the event from three years ago involved Croft one night sneaking onto the bad guy's island compound and battling guards to rescue a friend's kidnapped daughter. There was a fire and Croft had to rush to get the daughter and other assorted kidnap victims to safety. So a) when exactly did he have time to browse through the bad guy's extremely extensive island compound library and make a mental note of all his books, and b) why on Earth was Croft reading a book-collecting magazine three years later in the first place if he had no interest in the hobby, and no reason to be on the lookout for said books? It was a pretty weak way to get the plot going and it could have been fixed easily by just giving Croft an interest in rare books. Then it would have at least been plausible that he'd taken note of this particular rare book as he was passing through the island library during the rescue mission and then also believable that he was reading the magazine. I hate when authors create plot holes that could have been fixed with an easy change.
Moving on, Croft immediately goes to check out Mercy to see if she's one of the bad guy's accomplices or just an innocent bystander who happened to find a book. Once he meets Mercy, he goes out of his way to act all creepy and sinister. Mercy tells him that she's already got a buyer for the book and she won't break that agreement, even when Croft offers her more money. Croft then demands to see the book and asks where it is. Mercy shows her TSTL status here again by first admitting that the book is at her house, then telling Croft that her house is within walking distance of her bookstore, and then again by allowing Croft to follow her to her house. He's been pushy, arrogant and creepy in the five minutes since they've met, even removing the bell on her shop door so he could sneak up behind her without her realizing it, and she thinks it's a good idea to let him come to her house? This woman has absolutely no sense of self-preservation.
Worse yet, just as they're entering her house, Mercy asks Croft where his interests lie and he makes it a point to shut and lock the door before turning to her and saying that he's interested in violence. VIOLENCE! He actually says that to a woman he's just met and bullied into letting him follow her home! That's psycho talk right there! And yet our brainless heroine isn't even really afraid of Croft at this point because "something" inside her says she can trust him. Honestly, how has this woman not been killed by this point in her life? Things get even more unbelievable when Mercy blithely explains to this virtual stranger all about how she's going to hand-deliver the book to her buyer's remote compound. Croft demands to accompany Mercy on the trip and she says no, but he basically tells her that she doesn't have a choice in the matter and that he's taking her to dinner that night.
Mercy and Croft's relationship moves forward very quickly and in a completely unsatisfying and unrealistic way. Croft decides, in a very cold and calculating inner monologue moment, that seducing Mercy will serve his greater purpose of getting to this compound so he can scope out the buyer and see if he's the evil dude. Mercy is strangely smart enough to recognize that these are Croft's motives, but dumb enough to still sleep with him. Their first sex scene feels completely unfounded, at least from Mercy's perspective, because they barely know each other and Croft has done nothing but bully her and act creepy. Instead of just saying "no" when Croft tries to get into her pants and she knows it's all just about the damn book, Mercy instead acts like a crazy person until she manages to get a rise out of Croft. You see, he's a man who prides himself on being completely in control at all times. And that basically means that while he's functionally good at sex, emotionally he's like a cold-hearted robot. Yet despite this unromantic scenario, Mercy is still "wild" for Croft and wants him to feel just as wild and out of control as she does. So she yells at him and says crazy things until he loses his temper and therefore his control. It's the opposite of romantic. Croft doesn't lose control because he's so desperately attracted to Mercy, or because she's "special", he loses it because she acts like a harpy until he gets pissed off. You're not going to find that kind of thing on a Valentine's Day card.
As soon as that initial sex scene is over, Croft announces that he definitely WILL be going to Colorado with Mercy. Gee, Romeo, ever heard of tact? Of course Mercy gets upset that he's basically just flat-out admitted that he slept with her in order to seduce her into letting him come on the trip, but Croft waves this away like she's just being a PIA. He insists that he'd have slept with her regardless of the trip situation because he just plain wanted to. The fact that in his inner monologue he totally admits that he's using seduction to manipulate Mercy is completely irrelevant in his mind. His self-appointed mission is much more important than treating her with respect.
They go to Colorado and meet the buyer. All of Mercy and Croft's actions at this compound are either stupid, irrational or despicable. Croft keeps Mercy in the dark about his mission for much longer than is necessary or prudent, but even when he tells her, Mercy persists in her TSTL ways and constantly tries to prove that the buyer really isn't the evil dude. Even though she knows nothing about this buyer and at least knows Croft well enough to sleep with him, she is convinced that the buyer must be a great guy simply because she's banking on his money serving as the seed money for her next business venture. So she continually ignores warning signs and tells Croft that he's just got an over-active imagination. Right, because the ice-cold Croft is clearly the sort of man who's prone to flights of fancy.
She becomes "mesmerized" by the good-looking buyer's blue eyes and hypnotic voice and spends hours talking to him about rare books. This makes Croft jealous so he makes a very deliberate decision to use sex to try to reassert his hold over over her. Mercy realizes what he's trying to do and insists that she doesn't want to have sex, even physically fighting against him when he tries to still take her to bed. This spirals into another bizarre scene where Mercy says and does whatever she can to break through Croft's emotionless control until he finally loses it and forces himself on her. It's not really rape though because by this point Mercy wanted the sex too, she just wanted it to be as affecting an experience for him as it was for her. It's a pretty dysfunctional relationship, really.
After they're done doing the deed, Croft slips out of the bedroom to go and search the buyer's vault for clues that might reveal whether he is or is not the evil dude from three years ago. Mercy wakes up to find Croft gone and again behaves like a TSTL 1980's heroine. She's still convinced that her buyer is really just a nice guy and frets that if Croft is discovered breaking in to the vault, the buyer will be pissed and her future as a dealer in rare books will be ruined. Up to this point, Mercy has continually referred to Croft as a "ghost" because he can move around so silently and with such stealth that people don't know he's in the room. And yet she's so worried that he'll get caught and ruin her business prospects that she decides the best idea is to go racing down to the vault to drag him back to their room. It never occurs to her that she will be much more likely to get caught since she is NOT a "ghost" or in any way trained to be stealthy. Or just that having two people roaming around after hours means twice the chances they'll get caught. Naturally she trips some security sensors and it's only Croft's quick thinking that prevents them from getting caught.
There are a bunch of inconsistencies in the rest of the book. Several times the buyer is shown to have some kind of supernatural hypnotic power, and that's never explained. One time in particular he has Mercy locked in the vault and is using his ability to try to question her about Croft and Mercy only just manages to keep her head. This isn't a paranormal romance book so he really shouldn't have actual powers, but no other explanation is ever given. It's never said, for example, that he slipped Mercy some kind of drug to make her susceptible to suggestion, or that he's actually a trained hypnotist, etc. Another inconsistency is that Mercy periodically develops claustrophobia. It's so bad at one point that she chooses to go racing out into the open with two armed thugs searching for her, rather than to just stay hidden in an old shack. But there's no explanation for this phobia and it only seems to pop up when needed to force Mercy to do something that makes her TSTL.
Meanwhile, Croft grabs the idiot ball for no reason other than plot contrivance. He remains convinced throughout the whole book that the buyer is indeed the evil dude. Yet he decides to leave Mercy alone with the man all afternoon so that he can take a helicopter ride with the buyer's smoking hot chief of security. This gets a vague explanation in that Croft wanted to get an idea of the "lay of the land" but he never uses that information for anything. Then later on, he makes plans to break into the vault while a party is going on at the compound. This is his last chance to search for proof of his suspicions and it'll be risky because his absence at the party might be noted. Also, Mercy has already told Croft that the buyer guy tried to pump her for information while they were alone that afternoon so it's clear the bad guys are getting very suspicious of Croft and his reasons for being there. Yet he decides it's a good idea to drink wine poured by one of the evil dude's lackeys. Why would he drink wine at all before a mission like this? And why would he trust something given to him by one of the bad guys? For a man who is supposedly soooooo good at this spy game, he makes a real rookie mistake.
Lo and behold, the wine was drugged and Croft is almost killed. Mercy has to save him and then bundle him into the car to try to make their escape. They have a harrowing race down the mountain while being chased by two lackeys but the bad guys catch up. Croft uses his super-human martial arts skills to gather his strength and defeats the two gun-wielding bad guys at an abandoned mining town. Then he tells Mercy to drive all night until they're far away from the compound. He sleeps off the drugs he was given, but Mercy descends into a near psychotic state of nerves and when Croft finally wakes up, she basically attacks him sexually.
She talks about how every time they've had sex up to that point it's been because he was using seduction to try to manipulate her. Well, now it's her turn. She's going to use him to give herself a release and hopefully she'll be able to relax enough to go to sleep. Mercy was clearly in a state of psychotic PTSD so I found it to be pretty icky that Croft was already, um, rising to the occasion, the moment she made a grab for him. Even though she was the aggressor in this scenario, I felt like he should have said no. It was similar to taking advantage of someone who was so drunk that they couldn't make decisions for themselves anymore. I also didn't believe that anyone in Mercy's position would want to jump into bed this way. It would be one thing if her character had been shown to be damaged so that she used sex as a balm for everything, but that's the opposite of Mercy. She's the typical good girl heroine who only has sex when she think she's in love. So it just didn't seem believable that she was ready to basically rape Croft after spending hours in a permanent state of freaking out over their close call with death. Either way, it was a very creepy and unromantic scene, AGAIN. There really aren't any sex scenes in this book that show a loving couple who care about each other. Everything is manipulation, violence and crazy behavior.
The final climax again illustrates Mercy's TSTL status when the bad guys manage to trick her into coming to them so they can use her as a hostage against Croft. And that's basically it. They save the day and the bad guy is defeated. Croft and Mercy proclaim their love for one another, but have in no way demonstrated that they'll last as a couple. Their whole relationship is completely dysfunctional. Croft behaves like an aggressive robot who believes he is perfectly justified in using whatever means necessary to manipulate Mercy into doing his bidding. Mercy is fully aware of what Croft is doing but still allows him to manipulate her and her sole act of defiance is to behave like a crazy person whenever they have sex. Totally dysfunctional. (hide spoiler)]
Read information about the authorThe author of over 50 consecutive New York Times bestsellers, JAYNE ANN KRENTZ writes romantic-suspense in three different worlds: Contemporary (as Jayne Ann Krentz), historical (as Amanda Quick) and futuristic (as Jayne Castle). There are over 30 million copies of her books in print.
She earned a B.A. in History from the University of California at Santa Cruz and went on to obtain a Masters degree in Library Science from San Jose State University in California. Before she began writing full time she worked as a librarian in both academic and corporate libraries.
Ms. Krentz is married and lives with her husband, Frank, in Seattle, Washington.
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