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3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on March 30, 2002
As an ardent reformist in New York in 1902, Francesca Cahill refuses to be bound by conventions. She studies secretly in Barnard College to refrain from incurring the wrath of her mother and is socially active especially in the plans for the Police Department to eliminate rife corruption.
By chance of fate, she now takes on the role of a female sleuth to investigate the disappearance of Jonny Burton, a child of her neighbour who was mysteriously abducted. A series of notes and clues are sent. She joins forces with the new police commissioner, Rick Bragg to solve the crime and discovers that things aren't always what they seem....
Francesca Cahill is also the protagonist of Brenda Joyce's Deadly series to dabble in historical romanctic suspense. Deadly Love as the maiden book proves refreshing in the period of 1900 and is atmospheric in the description of New York's socialite. The mystery kidnapping itself isn't much of an intricate plot but the stunning revelations explores human foibles and crimes of passion which is rare in today's romances. The suspense is fast-paced and the chemistry between Bragg and Francesca crackles. Joyce succeeds in bringing out the complexity of her sub-characters like Connie, her sister and Neil, her sister-in-law through engaging sub-plots.
Though choppy at times and a rambling mystery yarn, Brenda Joyce is laudable for her humane portrayal of her characters and her penchance for historical details. It offers some high-voltage drama and grit at times and DEADLY LOVE is an auspicious start to her new series.
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on August 27, 2001
Brenda Joyce makes a bold choice with the story "Deadly Love". She sets it in 1902 among the New York elite. One young woman from a well-connected, prominent New York family, Francesca Cahill, doesn't want to be married off. She has secretly enrolled herself in Barnard College and works to reform the social ills of New York (somewhat reminiscent of Jude Devereux's Temptation). It makes for an interesting premise that doesn't work so well on paper. I didn't warm to Francesca Cahill-- she was forever crashing into the middle of tense scenes, bungling police operations (although she did ultimately help the investigation). That kind of headstrong naivete is not a pleasure to read, especially in a mystery. And, yes, I think that kind of characterization insults readers' intelligence. But, yes, Francesca might mature in the books to follow. I hope she does.
I also did not like how one woman, who was supposed to be sympathetic, had committed adultry with half the men in New York. Sometimes Brenda Joyce creates characters who are hard to like. Warning: This novel is not a romance, but was marketed as one to pick up Brenda Joyce's romance readership. There are hints of romantic feeling, but that's it. So, Five stars for the interesting setting.
Five stars for the historical detail.
Three stars for the characters.
Plot, eh, three stars. Recommended for a quick one-time, one-night read. For better romantic suspense try Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series, J.D. Robb's "in Death" series, and Dianne Day's "Fremont Jones" series. Anne Perry also sets her mysteries in the Victorian period in England.
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on March 4, 2001
Deadly Love is the first Brenda Joyce I've picked up, and I enjoyed it tremendously. Although the main character, Francesca, acts a bit ditsy at times, her behavior only added to the humor Ms. Joyce included throughout the book.
The relationship between Fran and Rick has a lot of potential. I hope they make significant progress in the next volume of the series though -- I hate it when writers string us along for ever before allowing characters to move beyond flirtation (Of course Fran's mother Julia may have more to say about this than Ms. Joyce does!).
The secondary characters will also be a force in upcoming volumes. Young Joel Kennedy adds a humorous note, and I'm anxious to learn more about future sister-in-law Sarah. I must say however, that I hope Ms. Joyce dosen't plan on portraying brother-in-law Neil as a sympathetic character. His behavior in this book was awful. In fact, I wanted him to be the bad guy this time around so we could be done with him! This feeling goes beyond a negative reaction to his infidelity -- his whole attitude is obnoxious.
While some of the negative reviews seen here express valid concerns regarding genre and character shortcomings, when you consider that this is the first of what will hopefully be a long series of related novels, and that it needed to set the stage for future volumes, it is an outstanding read.
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on January 25, 2001
If I could have given this book no stars I would have! I absolutely HATED this book. I've read Brenda Joyce before and really enjoyed her novels. This book has very little to do with romance. I didn't feel as if Rick even liked Francesca through about 90% of the book. She comes across as more of a pest. There's one steamy scene between Francesca and Rick, and that's pretty much it. The only other sexually explicit scene is between Francesca's brother-in-law and another woman as Francesca watches him commit adultery. I couldn't believe that was included in this story! There was way too much focus on Francesca's sister's marriage problems. If that storyline (Connie & Neil's relationship) is to be included in a future book, the author could have been more subtle about the problems in their relationship. After reading this book, I don't think that I could forget the mental picture I had when reading about him cheating to ever like his character in a future book. I also disliked the ending. It seemed incomplete - I felt as if I was left hanging.
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on December 31, 2000
I really enjoyed this first book in a series featuring Francesca Cahill, aspiring private investigator. Seldom have I read a book that is brimming with the same kind of raw energy as that of the main character, Francesca. I was so caught with the enthusiasm and energy that this novel possessed that time passed without me realising it until the book was finished. This novel definitely makes for engrossing reading!
Francesca Cahill believes in doing something worthwhile with her life. An ardent reformer, her current ambition is to be the first female newspaper reporter in New York. However, Francesca is also the member of a prominent New York family, where the daughters marry well, have children and partake in the social functions -- they do not attend college and get jobs!
At one of her mothers social dos, Francesca meets the new police commissiomer, Rick Bragg, and is immediately drawn to him. Unfortunately, she also finds herself, to her chagrin, behaving quite awkwardly. Later that same night, she discovers a cryptic unsigned missive, which she dismisses as some kind of prank while she tries to work out her uncharacteristic response to Bragg. The next morning however, the Cahills are shocked to discover that while the party was going on, someone had kidnapped one of their neighbour's sons. Francesca immediately realises the significance of the note and rushes off to inform Bragg. And even though Bragg warns her not to get involved and to leave the matter to the police, Francesca cannot help but become involved. The search for the truth and the little boy is too important to Francesca to give up. And soon she is knee deep in the race to find the missing boy who seems to be in the hands of a mad man bent on revenge rather than a ransome. Francesca's investigations will lead her to the seamier side of New York City, through the slums and into danger; her search will also lead her to discover some rather uncomfortable truths about her own family, truths she may have prefered not to know at all.
This is probably going to be the last book I read this year, and I'm glad that I closed out the year on a high note. Brenda Joyce has created a wonderful protagonist in Francesca Cahill, who is brave and passionate and simply brimming with energy. It is obvious that this charcater is young and a little naive -- in fact her naivety lands her in danger more than once! But we not only overlook this but root for Francesca to somehow come out on top and go on. The plot is clever one and the pacing of the sequence of events is flawless: the tension is palpable as page after page one wonders at what new horror will be uncovered and if the unfortuante little boy will be found alive.
A masterfully written novel. I look forward to the next Francesca Cahill novel eagerly.
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on December 31, 2000
If I could give Brenda Joyce's novel "Deadly Love" a sixth star on the amazon scale I would. This is the best new beginning of a historical series romance that I have ever read. The book itself reads like old fashioned chapter novels and has left me on the edge of my seat waiting for the next installment in this fantastic, yet disturbing book. I say that it is disturbing because it has its characters be human, with the same kind of human foibles that we all have. In "Deadly Love" however, Joyce somehow allows her characters to be heroic and larger then life, despite their humanity, in the way that we want our romance novel characters to be.
Francesca is a woman ahead of her time who wants to both be her own woman (she is attending the first women's college in England) and she wants to keep her family happy so she keeps her endeavor from her mother. Even though it means attending balls to the wee hours of the morning, attending classes a scant few hours after falling asleep, and studying every spare moment.
Of course, it would not be a romance without the flawed hero, a.k.a. Rick Bragg, the head of the police, Francesca's love interest, and her almost nemesis. He is sexy, brooding and mad bad and 'dangerous to know."
At the end of the book there are serious personal problems in the love lives of both her brother and her sister, a new mystery for the amateur sleuth, Francesca to solve and budding love for Rick and our heroine. This is both a great ending and a fantastic beginning of a new book and a new series for Brenda Joyce.
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on December 21, 2000
In 1902 New York City, even her family believes that kindhearted, social issues advocate Francesca Cahill is an eccentric. Francesca belongs to every known society trying to reform the ills of the universe. However, her family knows only the tip of the iceberg of Francesca's efforts. The do-gooder attends college with no one the wiser and belongs to many more organizations that help the needy than either her parents or sister Connie even know.
While attending a ball, in which she meets police commissioner Rick Bragg, Francesca finds a ransom note making demands for the return of her neighbor's little boy abducted from his bed. Unable to let it go, the do-gooder begins making inquiries. Rick, vowing to remain clean, tries to stop the enchanting, but obstinate Francesca from continuing with her investigation. When that fails, he joins her efforts mostly to keep her safe, not yet knowing the danger that awaits them.
DEADLY LOVE is a superb merging of an amateur sleuth novel with a historical police procedural mystery. It turns into a fabulous reading experience for genre fans. The story line works on several levels. The investigation is filled with a sexual tension between the fully developed lead characters and the infusion of historical tidbits makes the Big Apple at the turn of the century seem very much alive. Romance readers already know that B.D. Joyce by any other name (Brenda Joyce) means a fabulous well-crafted novel and now mystery fans will know likewise.

Harriet Klausner
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on August 17, 2001
This isn't really a romance book, but hints to be one. This book is more on mystery than romance. While we know that Francesca and Rick are the heroine and hero of this series, I do not feel that Rick feels anything for Francesca, from the beginning to the last page, even after Joel's last comment, which I was like "duh... how did it seem so?"
This book is weak by itself in storyline and definitely in the aspect of romance. However, let us not forget that it is the beginning of a series of romance mystery between Francesca and Rick, and the people around her.
Deadly Love is like a small piece that makes up a big puzzle. While it may not be an enjoyment to read and does not live up to its expectations, Deadly Love, as the first book to the series, introduces and builds a set of characters we need to know for the future stories.
Thus, I think I will appreciate this book more as the story develops when more books are released.
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on February 9, 2001
When will publishers learn to market books honestly? This is NOT a romance novel; it is an atmospheric character study with a mystery thrown in for good measure.
The descriptions are well done and accurate. The cast of characters is quite interesting - conflict building for future books, I hope.
Re the main characters, Francesca is too much the feminist for my personal taste - a budding Hillary comes to mind. We are told early and often that she's quite liberal and out to change social ills.
Rick, on the other hand, is totally opposite of the sappy males written by many female writers. He is masculine, intelligent, tender when necessary, and does the heavy lifting the Francesca's often avoid.
In short, I hardly ever read Brenda Joyce's romance novels - too light and sappy - but decided to give this one a try. I'm glad I did.
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on February 28, 2001
After seeing reviews copmparing this to the likes of Anne Perry and Caleb Carr,I decided to give this a shot. How disappointing. I had trouble warming up to the heroine,Francesca. Ms.Joyce was trying to make Francesca into a enlightened young upper class woman of the turn of the last century-secretly attending college,befriending lower class people,ect. I think another reviewer hit upon the main problem with this story-it couldn't decicide if it was a mystery or a romance. Francesca was supposed to be a bright and articulate person,but when she meets the new police commissioner she becomes just another simpering ninny. I also found her interest in the abduction of the neighboring child to be more of voyuerism than that of true concern. Rick,the new police commissioner was correct in being annoyed with her interst in the case. A most disappointing book.
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