By Jude Deveraux.
I don't know what to make of this book. It's kinda weird.
Mike Newland is an undercover cop in Florida, who seems to spend most of his career wooing women who are involved with bad men. Seriously, seduction is his job. He's incredibly secretive about his personal life and seems to have no attachments other than his sister Tess in Edilean, Virginia. Then a new case comes in. Mitzi Vandlo and her son Stefan are some kind of master career criminals, and Stefan has gotten himself engaged to Tess's best friend Sara under the alias of Greg Anders. Sara appears to have no secret inheritance going on whatsoever that anyone can find, but evidently marrying her is enough of a big score for Stefan to get divorced from the wife he actually loves so he can legally marry Sara. (There's no explanation of how the legality of marrying a guy who's using a pseudonym is going to work for this.) Sara will definitely be killed after Greg/Stefan gets what he wants, so Mike is sent in to woo Sara away from him and find out what she's got that's so valuable. Greg/Stefan's now ex-wife is pulled in for drunk driving and the cops arrest him when he goes to her aid, keeping him away from his fiancee until the wedding. Mike's employers even go so far as to BURN DOWN HIS APARTMENT (wtf?) so that he's "forced" to move into his sister's for a few weeks. No, he wasn't warned about that one. Good thing he's not attached to stuff.
Sara is currently living in a building with two apartments (Tess had the other apartment) owned by her cousin Luke. Luke helps out with the mission by claiming Sara's apartment needs to be sprayed, then ripping out her sink and toilet. This forces her to live in Tess's apartment now that Tess is married and on her honeymoon. Tess's apartment also has a secret hidden trap door in it for Mike to get in. Somehow, everyone involved in this plan thinks it's fucking brilliant to have a random strange man literally bust into the apartment of a single lady who has no warning or no clue about the secret door. What the FUCK? Anyway, nobody likes Greg--who is pretty much doing his best to NOT be amenable to anyone in town as part of his scheme--so everyone bands together to (a) force Mike and Sara to shack up, and (b) Mike does his best to kiss the ass of everyone in town so that they all call Sara up to sing his praises. Sara naturally finds this to be kinda annoying and pressure-y. She also flat out says he's short and balding and unattractive, but apparently he has a hot bod when you see him nekkid and this is how come he can woo any lady. Um...yeah.
But of course this is a romance novel, and they're both nice people, and they spend enough time hanging out to fall in love, plus for Sara to realize that yeah, Greg is a jerk and she's been on the rebound since the love of her life went back to England and dumped her via typed letter. If that sounds suspicious to you, IT IS. And that revelation leads Mike to the brilliant idea of marrying Sara himself so that Greg can't get....whatever it is that Sara is worth.
With regards to that: Dear lord, whatever moneymaking Sara has about her, I'm still not sure. I wondered if it had anything to do with her ex-fiance, but I guess not? She doesn't seem to own anything super expensive or secretly super expensive. In fact, most of the "what are the Vandlos after" drama seems to revolve around Merlin's Farm, an ancient farm that Sara....DOESN'T ACTUALLY OWN OR ANYTHING. Hell, Tess makes Mike buy it. And yet, getting a hold of this farm is apparently the Vandlos' endgame. If this makes sense to you, please explain it to me. There's also a lot about Brewster Lang, the cranky, pot-growing, booby-trapping, kinda crazy old dude who's the caretaker of the farm. Mike's grandmother was basically pure abusive evil and she had...SOME kind of weird relationship with Lang. Whether or not his grandmother was actually raped--by Lang or by another fellow--and especially whether or not his grandmother was making it up or was just super drunk and didn't know who she was nailing--eventually becomes a creepy and ambiguous and uncomfortable plot point. Ugh. There's also a lot of mentions of the Frazier family, who I guess are regulars in this series. But I'm still not sure why it was a big deal for Mike to beat all of them in town fair activities. I did mildly enjoy the scenes involving April Frazier, who always found goody-goody Sara to be annoying as hell. Later in the book when the two of them team up to deal with some plot action, it actually was pretty fun to see them together. April definitely sees Sara in a new light.
But overall...man, this book is long and feels long to read. There's a lot of wandering off of the plot to have Mike and Sara canoodling and it feels like it takes forever to actually get around to a showdown with the Vandlos. I still don't feel clear as to what the hell Sara owned that was worth this amount of death and scamming, exactly, especially if she didn't own that farm in the first place. It's kinda plot-holey and dragging in places and...well, I kept reading so I could justify finishing the review.
Three stars. I'll be honest with you: other folks might enjoy this one more than I did. The characters are all right, I suppose, but I think the plot needs work. Oh yeah, and the title refers to some kind of perfume. I'll give the author credit for mentioning it a few times to try to make it relevant to the plot, but it definitely pointed out to me that generic titles are nobody's friend.