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Not So Innocent by Laura Lee Guhrke

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Not So Innocent

Laura Lee Guhrke
Historical Romance/Paranormal
Published in 2002

H/h - Inspector Michael Dunber/Sophie Haversham
Setting: London, 1897.

Read in Feb, 2012.
My rating:


                                                 [spoiler alert]

Gah, I really wanted to love this book but alas! Such a bummer after Conor's Way! It had a promising plot and all but the execution of that left much to be desired. So yes, I am disappointed and a bit unhappy.

The heroine of the story, Sophie has the psychic ability. She can ‘visualize’ some incidents, good or bad, before it happens. I think it was mostly the bad things, some accident or someone dying... She would see the whole thing in her mind’s eye, like graphic photographs. She can also read minds, sometimes. She has this headache and blackouts when those premonitions come to her and obviously, because of her freakish ability, she was not very dear to her mother and older sister. Sophie’s father died when she was very young, almost before she started having her visions. But, I was SO annoyed by her mom and sister Charlotte, can’t explain. Her mom is a rigidly religious woman, turned stiff as a board after she married the vicar of the community. In every other syllable she’d go and express rudely how ‘disappointed’ she is with Sophie. I mean, I don’t know, she was worse than the eeevil step-moms of some fairytales. And her b*tchy older sister, don’t ever get me started on her. She’d always tormented Sophie, since they were young and still does in every opportunity that arises. She’s the one their mother prefers, having married a man she doesn’t care for (who is a lawyer I think but cheats on his clients) but have 5 children with. The guy has a mistress set up somewhere near his workplace and doesn’t give a fig about Charlotte as well. But he’s a coward and a bit scared of her I think. Sophie doesn’t like him at all since she knows about his cheating on both counts. Sophie lives with her widowed aunt Violet, who is a dear to her and supports her in everything. They live in what can be called ‘genteel poverty’, lending out the rooms of the small townhouse Violet inherited from her deceased husband. Moreover, Violet is interested in spiritualism herself and formed this society with two other ladies lodgers of her home. Sophie has been living with her for a long time, knowing that her dream of having a normal life would never come to pass. She’s already a spinster and would be old like this. It hurts, though and it was worse when 3 yrs ago her fiancé jilted her at the altar knowing about her ability. He got scared. It is very normal that people would, yet I still disliked the man for not supporting her. Sophie can’t read fortunes or ‘use’ her power for any money-earning services. It just doesn’t work that way. So far, she’d predicted accurate, albeit smaller things. But when she dreamed of this man in police uniform, all bloodied and murdered, she knew she has to go to the Scotland Yard and inform them. Of course, she’s used to all sorts of ridicule from people and yet, she can’t help talking about it because she knew it’s going to happen soon and Sophie would do anything in her power to stop that murder.

Mick just turned 36. He’s tall, strong and very handsome. I loved the scenes where his colleagues were poking fun at him about him being ‘old’. Mick loves his life the way it is. He’s an orphan and taught himself to read and write and then joined the police about 17 yrs ago. He’s been very accomplished in his career which earned him good wage, respect, good position in the SY along with loads of experience. It’s very plain to see that his colleagues love and respect him a lot. What annoyed me was the mention of him being a skirt-chaser, in every other page, from this person to that. I mean why? Why not just let him be the hard working policeman who needs love in his life? Mick has never been in a serious relationship. According to him (as he answers his friends when they poke fun at him), Mick has been waiting for the ‘perfect woman’. Perfect woman; who’s always beautiful and would never demand, always passionate and would understand his ways of life, who’s always welcoming and smiling. According to his friends, Mick doesn’t care to settle down, which he should now that he’s gotten ‘old’. On the outside, Mick loves these good-natured insults and waves them away but on the inside, he does question himself if they’re correct or not. He thinks his friends are wrong, that he wants to settle down someday. This creates a problem between him and Sophie in the later parts of the book.

On this day, a suicide case along with a stolen jewelry case comes to Mick. He’s more interested in the suicide case. Have to say, I did love the descriptions in the SY and how things were done. This story is set in the turn of the century (1897) so some of the modern equipments were already in use. It was fun to read. As he was going through his papers in his desk, Sophie catches Mick’s eyes or rather her gentle and sweet voice. When she got that Mick’s staring at her, Sophie turns and saw that his is the man she’d dreamed of and decides to talk to him directly. Of course, hearing about her ‘dream’, Mick doesn’t believe a single thing. And he doesn’t for a long time in the story, thoroughly mocking her, which annoyed the hell outta me. I know that in reality no one will but hello, this story has this touch of paranormal and I would’ve loved Mick more if he supported her and not make her look like a fool, being rude and all that. Sophie tries her best to talk to him but he sends her away, even though he’s very suspicious of her. But that doesn’t deter him from noticing her sexy lips and beautiful brown hair and eyes though! He thinks two of his best buddies send this woman as a birthday gift/fun, which the men denied when he met them later on. Anyway, at night, when he was going to his one room apartment from the bar where he celebrated his birthday, Mick is attacked. He survived because of his instincts and maybe (he would deny this) because of Sophie’s words. Now Mick is more determined than ever to find out who this woman is because he’s pretty sure that Sophie is hiding something/someone, probably helping out the murderer in the process.

Back in Violet’s home, Sophie was very worried about Mick. There’s something about this policeman she can’t deny and she wants to help him anyway, anyhow though he made a joke out of her. We also get to know that Violet has a bad case of kleptomania and Sophie and their butler, Grimmstock help make those thefts right. I don’t know how they can ALWAYS return the stolen jewelries though, without the owners knowing about it. But anyway, Sophie is resolute to save her dearest aunt from any harm or censure of the society because her aunt is the only one who genuinely cares for her. I found Violet rather a ninny/featherbrained. She’d talk and talk and talk and do things without using her brains (not sure if she possesses one). My patience with her was sorely tested many times over the course of the story. When Sophie asks her to be careful about her kleptomania, Violet waves it away like it’s nothing to be worried about, whereas Sophie was more than concerned. It was a disturbing matter so I wanted to slap Violet for being so unconcerned about it.

After the attack on him, Mick decides to investigate Sophie thoroughly which is how he finds out about Violet keeping lodgers. Mick decides it’d be good for the investigation if he can lodge a room there without arising suspicion. On the other hand, on the same time, Sophie’s mother wrote to them that she’s coming for a visit. Sophie knows what that’ll ensue; some embarrassing or hurtful incidents one after another that would include her mother’s perpetual urge to see her married. She’d look for men with ‘prospects’ that will only embarrass Sophie and nothing else. Her mother was so insensitive as her sister was a b*tch. Either way, Sophie isn’t up for marriage for obvious reasons. Also, her mother never stays with them but with Charlotte’s family. So, Violet and Sophie decide they need an emergency lodger to fill out the only empty bedroom of the house. Mick solves that problem soon enough. Sophie is annoyed and angry because she knows his motives. Violet remains oblivious to Sophie’s annoyance and very eagerly agrees to lend him the room. This irritated me as well; the way Violet just waved aside Sophie’s protests. I still didn’t like Mick and the way he mocked Sophie, challenging her words with his own. It was frustrating, to say the least. I would actually lose my head the way he kept poking at Sophie, to make her ‘tell’ him the truth since he didn’t believe in anything she said. Then in one of his searches when no one was home, Mick finds the jewels that had been reported stolen by one viscountess, in Sophie’s closet, thanks to Violet’s dim-witted idea. I don’t know why Sophie even tried to listen to the woman! The viscount was Violet’s cousin so Sophie knew they won’t bring charge against her. But still, she wanted to save Violet and decided she’d find a way to ‘return’ the jewels. Sadly, Mick gets a total twisted view of this and arrests Sophie. To him, now she’s a jewel thief too! Though it was sorted out later, as Violet comes forth with her confession, I wanted to slap Mick. I know sounds illogical but I still did. He tormented Sophie quite a lot like a true policeman.

After that, the story was dragging a bit for me mainly because of the characters. There were two murders. Sophie had vision of both but couldn’t help the men. Both of them were policemen. The murders were gruesome, the work of a pervert no doubt. The 1st murder happened because no one believed in Sophie’s words. When Mick hears of it, he’s very sure Sophie knows who’s behind the murders or at least she knows something. The unpredictability of her ability (how ironic) made it more difficult for Sophie to convince Mick. In example, in one scene, he asked her make a prediction about a horse race and its winner in Ascot, where he visited with Sophie’s family. She couldn’t since she can’t predict anything that would bring money. Her mindreading ability was like that. She couldn’t read all the thoughts of a person and definitely not always. Back to the murders; after the 1st one, Mick takes Sophie to the murder scene on her request. Sophie wanted to see how accurate her prediction was... and it was totally accurate. This triggers a lot of trouble since the press dug out stories about Sophie and her psychic ability. She couldn’t go out and so on. Her mother was not happy about it, as usual and her sister was b*tching about to her best since she liked to see Sophie miserable all the freakin’ time! What a family!! Only Violet and the lodgers of her house supported Sophie. Mick, now, was having confusions. She predicted some things about him/his past and things about this murder which were just too accurate to deny. Even though he tried to make out logical conclusions, those didn’t work. As he took her as a witness to the murder, Mick was the butt of all jokes in SY. Some thought he’s gone insane, some thought he’s having an affair with the psychic (sort of a foregone conclusion because of his reputation) and some were downright hostile. Then they go to this country house party, given by Violet’s cousin the viscount. Violet made sure Mick was invited. Oh yes, she was very interested to pair Sophie with Mick since she liked him from the moment she saw him, although Sophie tried to make it quite clear that it’ll never happen. Not only she and Mick don’t really ride the same boat (duh!) but also, her mother would NEVER approve of this match. That woman would marry Sophie off to a lecher or an old goat, as long as the man is from their station in life. A policeman is definitely out of the question! Anyway, Sophie sees the vision of the second murder while staying here and forces Mick to take her back to London. But it was just too late. In between, they have more verbal battles about her ability with Mick’s confusion about it at present.

After the 2nd murder, things became more frenzied in and around SY. The press went wild about it all. But Mick was still attracted to Sophie and was battling it with the fact that he now wants to protect her from all these, though he wouldn’t come forward with his thoughts. Sophie would sometimes read his mind, which did freak him out. From Sophie’s POV, she’d already fallen for Mick (yes, they shared a kiss or two in between) but despaired of this situation. She was in love with a man who didn’t believe her, and who didn’t believe in settling down. Sophie knew he wouldn’t marry her even if they have an affair and she still went on with it one night. Maybe it was necessary for her to have someone to hold onto. I think it was necessary as the nightmares scared her a lot but I didn’t think, even then, that Mick was the right person. How not good for a novel when I’m more than halfway through and this is the kind of thought I have about the hero. He just didn’t come forward for Sophie when I wanted or expected him to. Afterwards, as I said, Mick’s idea about ‘the perfect life’ clashes with Sophie’s own wants and vulnerabilities about her ability. She knew Mick never thought of marrying her and as they quarrel about it, both end up saying hurtful things to each-other. Mick didn’t like the fact that Sophie read his thoughts on his past relationships and guessed accurately that the thought of marrying her never entered his mind. Can you tell I wanted to kick his sad arse?! But one thing was sure, by now Mick believed about Sophie’s psychic ability.

When they were living apart, sort of, as Mick now moved out of Violet’s house after the 2nd murder, Sophie again sees a vision of Mick being murdered. She was already missing him and regretted the words she said to him, though I think she did the right thing because Mick needed to face those facts. Afterwards the murder mystery was solved as Sophie follows her instincts to save Mick. But I wasn’t very interested in that anymore. I was already kind of distracted from the book and yes, disappointed that it didn’t live up to my expectations. Although, some reviews didn’t like Sophie, I did. I think I ended up liking Mick too but just wasn’t impressed with him, that’s all. 3.75 stars. I still think the story could’ve been much better.

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I love to read in my spare time and do reviews the books I read. My blog Punya Reviews just turned 6 in 2017 and still going strong. I love music and traveling. Sometimes, I wish I could live inside a book, having my own HEA. :)
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