I started actively reading romance and buying books about 10 years ago. While my collection is probably not comparable to Kristie, it's quite substantial. I don't know how you shelve your books, but me, I've never been able to be objective ^_^; What I mean is from the very beginning, I've always set apart or put in evidence my favorite authors. When I triple-stacked my books, the first row would show-cased my favorite authors while the books in the two rows behind would be shelved alphabetically. When I bought new shelves last year, one was reserved for my favorite authors... That when I realized that it's been a while since I last read many of the authors. Among those authors were Jennifer Crusie and Judith McNaught. I can't tell you how many times I re-read these authors, they were some of the very first ones I fell in love with... and unfortunately, they have only released a few books in the last couple of years. Those books are the reasons I've started this whole Re-Read Challenge...
So this month, I finally re-read one of my favorites Judith McNaught, Night Whispers. Judith McNaught is most well-known for her historicals (which I have read and enjoyed), but you all know me :P I prefer contemporaries. Lucky for me, she wrote a handful of those :P Paradise and Perfect would be her most-well known contemps and while I liked them, Night Whispers is the one which stands out for me.
So here is my review :P
Night Whispers by Judith McNaught
first published by Simon Schuster in November 1998
A policewoman in a small Florida community, Sloan Reynolds knows that her modest upbringing was a long way from the social whirl of Palm Beach, the world inhabited by her father and her sister, Paris. Total strangers to Slan, they have never tried to contact her - until a sudden invitations arrives, to meet htem and indulge in the Palm Beach social season.
A woman who values her investigative work more than a Dior dress, Sloan is unmoved by the long-overdue parental gesture. But when FBI agent Paul Richardson informs her that her father and his associates are suspected of fraud, conspiracy, and murder, Sloan agrees to enter into her father's life - while hiding her true profession.
Sloan's on top of her game until she meets Noah Maitland, a multinational corporate player and one of the FBI's prime suspects - and finds herself powerfully attracted to him, against her deepest instincts. When a shocking murder shatters the seductive facade of the wealth and glamour surrounding her, Sloan must maneuver through a maze of deceit and passion, to find someone to trust - and to decipher the truth behind those terrifying whispers in the dark.
Genre: contemporary romance
Series: Second Opportunities, book #3 (very loosely connected to Perfect)
The Story: I think the back blurb does a good job summarizing the story, so I won't go too much in details. Sloan is a 30 years old cop in a small town in Florida where she was raised by her loving mother. Sloan longs for a family of her own, but still haven't found a man she loves. Out of the blues, she gets a phone call from her father, asking for a visit, but she flatly refuses. Where her father is concerned, Sloan considers him 30 years too late. However, she changes her mind when FBI agent Paul Richardson approaches her and ask her to help the FBI gathering evidences about her father's criminal activities. In addition, Sloan wants to get to know her older sister, Paris. However, she never expected to meet a man like Noah Maitland...
My Opinion: When I first read this book, I thought it was awesome and really enjoyed it :)
I love Sloan's character. She might come off as goody two-shoes with a good dose of innocence an naivety and I think that first impression is very deep. However, when you look deeper, I think that she's also very tough. She's not a kick-ass heroine which wouldn't suit in this kind of storyline anyway, but she's definitively tough and has a lot of integrity. The word Paul Richardson used in this book to describe her was an idealist and I have to agree that it fits her perfectly. She doesn't lecture/preach to the others, but they are influenced by her. She also cares deeply for others, always think the best of them and always taking everyone into consideration - and that is side of her that I related a lot with.
Noah is a rich businessman with jaded views of women and love :P You know, our favorite kind of heroes :) One that is sadly fading away... He can be ruthless and commanding, but tender as well. He gives off a very powerful vibe and that's why it's so great to see him become more gentle because of Sloan.
I admit the reason I love about this book so much is the relationship between Noah and Sloan. I've always been a sucker for happy-go-lucky heroines thawing up stuffy heroes storylines. While this is not exactly this type of storyline, it's close enough. Noah is cynic and has a very jaded view on love and women ^_^; As a result, it's great to see him being influenced by Sloan's genuineness. Seriously, there's nothing better than seeing a tough man be tender with the woman he loves. That's why my favorite parts in Night Whispers are the scenes with Sloan and Noah together. I guess deep down, I hope that one day, I'll have that effect on a man :P
While I still love Sloan and Noah, I have to admit that I have some issues with this book. While this book is over 400 pages, I wanted more of Sloan and Noah ^_^; The first 100 pages focused on Sloan, introducing her which is fine because it gives the readers a better grasp on Sloan character, the H/H don't meet until page 137! As a result, I felt that Sloan and Noah's relationship developed quite fast. I don't know if there would have been a better way, perhaps through flashbacks? The murder and conflict between the H/H also occur quite abruptly and the ending is a bit rushed.
A large part of the book is dedicated to developing Sloan's character... as a result, Noah got a bit short-changed. I would have liked to know a bit more about his past, for his character to be a bit more developed. While he's one of my favorite kind of heroes, the successful businessman, he's also a bit of a stereotype. He could have used a bit more attention :)
The secondary characters are quite interesting, but I thought that Ms Mcnaught set things in motion and never concluded them. For example, there was something going on between Sarah, Sloan's best friend, and Jess, Sloan's co-worker... I think that Ms McNaught was setting up for a sequel or something, but there was never any follow-up. Paris and Paul's hook-up seem like an afterthought even though the attraction between them was palpable. I would have liked to be a witness to their relationship as well, not just being told things that had happened.
What else? The ending was definitively rushed, even the epilogue where we get to see the HEA. What happened to Carter? Paul and Paris? It would have been nice to see Sloan and Noah interact. The way it ended, it wasn't closure enough... it felt a bit incomplete :(
Finally, the most unbelievable thing is an FBI agent asking Sloan to spy on her father. That Sloan would think it's her job to do so, I don't have a problem to believe. After all, she doesn't consider Carter as her father and she has very high moral/justice standards... I did think there should have been a bit more personal debate throughout the book perhaps, but it was okay. The only thing though is I'm not sure if it was very ethical from the FBI - even though it was Paul's initiative. I mean, in this time and age, could whatever evidence Sloan find actually be used in court?!?
So yes, it seems that many things bothered me ^_^; Still, like I said, love Sloan and Noah. I think that's what Ms McNaught excels at, the interaction between the H/H, their relationship. If you think about it, all of her storylines do seem to be a bit over the top, but she is able to salvage them and make them believable through her characters. They are always the focus of her books :)
My Grade: Originally, it would have been an A+. I really fell in love with Night Whispers the first time I read it and it was one of my comfort reads for years. Now, I think it deserves a B+. I wish we'll get to read a bit more of Sloan and Noah in the future. Matt, Meredith, Zach and Julie had many guest appearances in books in the past, but never Sloan and Noah. I want to find out what they have become!!
By the way, I was searching the net for information about Night Whispers and came across this website McNaughtized. It gives a bit of information on the elusive book Can't Take My Eyes Off You... Did you know that the hero is named Clay Westmoreland and he is a descendant of Royce and Clayton?!?!?! Seriously, I've been looking forward for this book for years, but there has always been so little information on it. This is set to be the first book in a new trilogy, because the new Clay has 2 brothers (seriously, let's hope it's not Royce and Stephen - that would just be too weird! LOL). Ah well, it'd be nice if this book was released someday.