There has yet to be a Brockmann book that I haven't loved. And this one is no exception - it contains her usual realistic dialogue, fully formed three-dimensional characters, and the perfect balance of a-plot and romance without tipping into the "too technical" abyss that could happen in such stories.
I did love the relationship between Jane and Cosmo. But...I have to say that I was slightly disappointed when Cosmo turned out to be not quite the "dangerous man with a mysterious past" character he had appeared to be in previous stories, but actually a very open-minded, generous-hearted and very understanding man. Don't get me wrong - I think these traits are absolutely necessary in a good hero. I just almost felt that Cosmo was too good to be true. There was no digging beneath the layers of toughness and mystery to find the tender jewel beneath his exterior - he pretty much laid it all on the table up front. And in the end, all of the dark mystery surrounding him was actually based on a bunch of gossip that had just gotten blown out of proportion. The truth of the story was very moving, and it made me fall in love with Cosmo. But I felt the "menace" of his character in past stories was missing in this one.
As for the heroine, Jane, at first I really didn't like her. What she did - using her bodyguards so expoitively to promote her own agenda - was really low. But she did redeem herself once she fully understood how what she had done affected those around her. And I was very touched by her reaction to the tragic events that occurred to others trying to protect her. It seemed to be a very realistic response.
I also loved that Brockmann has brought Jules Cassidy to the forefront as a leading character. I wanted to weep for him as he found himself on the verge of a wonderful relationship only to be thwarted by the hangups of his would-be-partner. Jules is such a wonderful man, and I want nothing more than for him to fall in love and settle down, since this is what he seems to want for himself. I'm hoping that perhaps, in a future novel, he'll meet Robin Chadwick again and Robin will be ready for him.
Which leads me to Robin Chadwick. Now this is a character I do hope Brockmann shows us more of. I felt so sorry for him - it was so obvious to me who and what he is, but that he feels he can't be that person is tragic. I prayed through the whole book that his feelings for Jules would be enough to allow him that freedom, and despite my sadness that things didn't work out the way I'd hoped, his actions seem very, very realistic given his history and his desires for the future.
My problems with this book - the reasons I didn't give it five stars - have been mentioned by others. Several characters where given voice when I didn't really see a need for it. For example, Lawrence Decker made a POV appearance on several occasions, but I'm not really sure why it was necessary. His story wasn't advanced in any way, nor was he integral to the two main romances at hand. Too, Max Baghat showed up in one scene only to fade right back into the woodwork. Sometimes I feel like Brockmann thinks she needs to remind us of her entire cast of characters so we'll remember them when they show up as the primary characters of future stories. A sort of name-dropping habit that really isn't necessary.
Also, I didn't much like the portrayal of the Adam character. He confused me. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to hate him or like him. Often he appeared to be a first class sleaze bag who used people shamelessly, only to do something mildly heroic. Instead of viewing these contrasting actions as making him three-dimensional, they seemed more out-of-character. I never understood what Jules had ever seen in the guy, so Jules heartbreak was hard for me to understand. Rather than throw the "lover from the past" into Jules' story, I would have loved more development of his relationship with Robin and how Robin's total denial of his homosexuality caused heartache.
Neither did I much like Patty, Jane's assistant. She was so incredibly naive, and Robin's treatment of her was horrid. I just felt sorry for her, but only in a pathetic way rather than in a sympathetic way.
These complaints aside, I did find myself unable to put the book down. Once again Brockmann has written a story that pulled me so completely into her world that I felt I was hanging out with old friends. And now, sadly, I'm back to waiting the long months until the next Brockmann release...