Yet another time I did things backwards! Instead of reading this series in order, I read "Dangerous Passions" first, and felt a little at sea at times, then read "Dangerous Deception" many, many months later. And while it is not strictly necessary to read the books in order, I'd recommend it anyway because certain plot points like who the Black Phoenix are and what their agenda is, is explained a lot more clearly and succinctly in "Dangerous Deceptions." (And this really would have made "Dangerous Passions" a much more relaxing read). On the other hand, I have to own to finding "Dangerous Deceptions" to be the better book -- somehow the plot, intrigue and danger all gelled a lot more in this book than in the subsequent one.
Jarrett, Lord Derring, has lived on his wits (gambling) and on the fringes of London society ever since he became estranged from his family. Jaded and cynical, the last thing he ever expected was to become involved in a selfless quest that could cost him his life. But when a secret organisation "invites" him to help them in a mission, he suddenly finds himself in the middle of an adventure -- to enter the dark, secret and exclusive grounds of Paradise (an exclusive concern that caters to the depraved and jaded tastes of the ton) and to discover who is behind a series of murders and put a stop to it. Surrounded by danger, his only ally being the beautiful but secretive actress, Kate, Jarrett has only a week to accomplish his mission. Will he be able to do it? Or will his unexpected protective feelings for Kate jeopardise all?
In spite of the fact that "Dangerous Deceptions" was a very compelling read that had me glued to the pages, I did think that not enough time was spent on showing us how Jarrett and Kate came to fall in love with each other. I thought that the author did a wonderful job of keeping the mission subplot intriguing and tense; and I rather liked how she "fleshed" out Jarrett's character -- allowing him to develop before our eyes from a gambling care-for-naught to a man of intelligence, sensitivity and determination. The only thing that detracted was that one never really bought the notion that Kate and Jarrett had fallen in love with each other. That they admired each other and felt an empathy for each other, came across -- but not the love. Which of course make rating this novel a bit difficult. It's head and shoulders above the second installment, "Dangerous Passions" which I gave 3 1/2 stars to, and it is a good read. So that, in spite of the fact that the romance angle is slightly lacking, I'd still give it a 4 star rating for having provided me with a good afternoon's read.