Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Crooked Hearts by Patricia Gaffney

Crooked HeartsI had some doubts when I first found this one netgalley and requested it. See, it's an older romance being reprinted and kindelized, and I thought it may be a bodice ripper due to some of the cover/blurb/flap jackets that were on the older editions. However, I not only read it, but thoroughly enjoyed it and had many a laugh. It is not really a bodice ripper. The sex when it finally occurs over halfway into the book, isn't horrible or cheesy. Though there is some Spanish Fly involved...

Crooked HeartsThe first quarter is absolutely hilarious! The heroine is pretending to be a nun and coercing sympathetic men out of their money as they donate to what they think is Sisters of Hope and staring orphans. The hero is pretending to be blind and does he get an eyeful as the "nun" makes adjustments to her clothing, thinking she is safe in the presence of a blind man.

She needs money to save her farm and he needs money to pay off debts though it takes a while to get both of their "real" stories as they continue to lie to each other throughout the book, neither of them trusting the other despite their new partnership.

What starts as a scam during a simple game of 7 card stud evolves into an attempt at swindling a Chinese drug lord...and it all goes very badly. Seems the Chinese drug lord is way smarter than they are and he wants Grace/Sister Augustine/the heroine for his bride. Yikes!

Borrowed from Karla on goodreads. 
Grace and Reuben begin to desire each other, save each other numerous times, and enter one shady deal after another in their rush to make money. Their banter and jokes made the book worthwhile even when it began to drag. The last half wasn't as funny and I started to find the whole thing with Mark Wing, the drug lord and his overall character a bit preposterous. But the ending had a surprise twist and the book redeemed itself.

Favorite laugh out moment: (This is when Reuben was still somewhat reeling at the discovery that Sister Augustine wasn't really a nun. He has a funny dream that he's standing at a pulpit with an audience of nuns.)

"Seated in orderly rows, they all suddenly crossed their legs and hiked up their skirts, like a chorus of cancan dancers. Some had pistols tucked into their garters, and some had little floral bouquets. Smiling, swinging their crossed legs back and forth in a leisurely rhythm, they hung on Reuben's every word, and nodded in unison when he suggested that many of them might benefit from some private spiritual instruction."

Four stars. A funny historical romance revived. And an extra thumbs up for the heroine not being a simpering virgin, but a woman who knows what she wants and gets it.

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