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Monday, October 23, 2006

***** Crazy Like a Fox by Anne Stuart. Contemporary romance/gothic.

Do not judge this book by its cover. Honest, the hero is not an ape-man. To be fair, the heroine might well have had big hair--it was written in 1989, and, well, a lot of us had big hair then. We didn't know any better. The cover of the reissue has better-looking people, but it has nothing to do with the story, unless it's trying to show us what happens after the story ends. Yes, they do end up at Mardi Gras, but not like that, and not with the kid. Also, the kid is a girl, and that sure looks like a boy to me.

So, the cover gods used to have it in for Anne Stuart. But she showed them. She put a fabulous story inside anyway.

When the book opens, Margaret Jaffrey, widowed and destitute (her husband was a gambler, and not a very good one), decides as a last resort to take her daughter Carrie to Louisiana, to Dexter's family home. From there, the story is pure gothic.

There's the extended family with the forceful matriarch, the big house, the gothic atmosphere, the mystery, but most of all there are the cousins Peter and Wendell. Both are handsome, in the same way Dexter had been, but Wendell is a charming lawyer, and Peter is cynical and unemployed... because he's under house arrest, kept locked in the attic (okay, a suite of rooms on the top floor), after being acquitted of his wife's murder by reason of insanity.

Margaret finds herself drawn into the family's web, blocked every time she tries to assert her independence, and unsure of their safety when the whole family seems convinced that Peter is dangerously insane. However, she's reluctant to take her daughter from the happiness and stability she's found after so many months of living hand-to-mouth. Wendell has given her a job, and offered a marriage proposal her mind tells her would ensure Carrie's and her futures, though her heart says otherwise.

For such a short book (typical Harlequin--251 pages), a lot is packed into it. Each member of the family has an agenda, and you're never quite sure what's true. There's intrigue and the mystery surrounding Peter's wife's death, and in the middle of it all, Margaret is falling in love with the very worst choice--a crazy man who'd confessed to killing his wife.

I'm slowly collecting Anne Stuart's backlist, but there are so many books that it's been slow going. This book convinces me to try to speed up the process a bit.


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Yea ape man is right! I love gothic though.
Darla -

You GOT to read more of Anne Stuart's books! I like most all books I have read so far. But exccept for one. I read too many of Anne's books that I'm quickly trying to get her backlist books. She is THAT good :)

I have not try "Crazy Like a Fox yet, but I think I'll read this next.

You did great review on this book!
Darla, you're making me jealous! (Haven't read this yet, and it's so hard to find...)

I've always love Anne's books, ever since I started reading Black Ice. Like you, I'm slowly collecting her backlists. Oh, and I do hope the publishers will reissue her backlists!!!

I'm pretty sure this was one I got at the flea market, rather than actually having looked for it. Boy, I miss that flea market. I hope the book booth is still there when we move back!
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