This is an Official Review by an Eye On Romance Official Reviewer
for Deadly Caress
Date of Review: 04/06/03
"You can't choose who you are going to fall in love with," says Francesca Cahill, a staunch reformist and sleuth caught in a love triangle between the commissioner Rick Bragg and his nemesis of a half-brother Calder Hart. In Deadly Caress, the 5th installment of Joyce's mystery-romance series, her characters' lives are tangled once more in one dramatic denouement after another.
Joyce continues the mystery behind the vandalism of Sarah Channing's portraits, whereby the latter is the fiancée of Francesca's brother Evan. A fellow artist Ms. Neville vanishes abruptly with her neighbor-sans-Evan's mistress Ms. Conway strangled to death. Eyewitness Ms. Holmes is also silenced and evidence points to Evan. Francesca sets out to investigate with Rick Bragg and discovers new suspects like Ms. Neville's lover and brother sprouting.
True fans voraciously devouring Joyce's series would know the fascination lies in her knack to galvanize with twists and secrets. This time is no different with exciting developments like the return of Bragg's wife Leigh Anne and Hart's relentless pursue along with Francesca's sister Connie handling her marital crisis.
However Deadly Caress breaks free of the archetypal romance mold with its ensemble of flawed and honest characters that are subjected to temptations and desires. Rick Bragg, the central protagonist is a hypocrite with confused feelings for his wife and Francesca; Calder Hart who was portrayed as villainous in the series is refreshingly honest and honorable. The romance is complicated with hidden passion and recognizably realistic to shed the perfunctory soap-opera cloak. Joyce has outdone herself this time round with finely paced suspense and dimensioned characters to engage us to the Deadly series. It's a fatal attraction.