Doctor For Keeps

Mistaken for a Mistress
by Kristi Gold
(Silh. Desire #1669, $4.50, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-76669-6
Ford Ashton is on a mission to find his grandfather's killer and free his falsely accused uncle, Grant. His prime suspect just happens to be the prosecution's star witness, and the old man's mistress. With time running out and the man who raised him stuck behind bars, Ford has to take matters into his own hands. He decides to track down Kerry Roarke, ingratiate himself to her and find out the truth for himself. After all, if Kerry's anything like his grandfather's other playmates, it should be a piece of cake.

Kerry may not be sad that her boss is dead, but she isn't about to take the blame for it. After all, the worst thing she ever did to Spencer Ashton was spiking his coffee with a little salt once in awhile. And it isn't like he didn't deserve it. Kerry wasn't interested in the advances of a married man, no matter how wealthy and powerful he is. But she is interested in Ford Matthews, the Midwest farmer who charms her into giving him directions, and a date.

As the two are drawn closer to each other, Ford realizes Kerry isn't what he thought. But she may be what he needs.

The main attraction for Ford and Kerry seems to be sex. If they aren't thinking about sex, talking about sex or having sex, they're talking about the murder. It's hard for the reader to see why these people love each other, when they don't know each other. Kerry and Ford might have a dynamite affair, but their romance doesn't scream true love to this cynical reviewer.

Characterization is another weak point in the story. Kerry lives with an aging actress named Millicent, who supposedly serves as a mother figure to Kerry. In actuality, she's more of a plot device. Millie wavers between being the over-protective mother hen and the "oh, he's nice, you should marry him" type of mother. Her views are whatever serves the story at that time. She lectures Ford about how to act, yet convinces Kerry that some lies have to be forgiven. She's so mercurial that she doesn't ring true as a person. We never see a definitive Millie personality. We just see Millie as the one pushing along the story. In fact, without Millie, Kerry would still be sitting on the couch and all of the stories loose ends would be dangling.

As the eighth book in the Dynasties: The Ashtons series, Mistaken for a Mistress comes with a lot of back-story. As someone who has only loosely followed the series, I often found myself confused, having to check older editions or refer to the handy family tree in the front. While it's natural to have to play catch up with a Dynasty novel, most provide a more solid background than this one. For anyone not willing to devote themselves to the series, I would seriously warn them not to start with this one.

Gold does get bonus points for having a heroine who was a teenage runaway. In fact, Kerry was at one time homeless and she still has issues from it. While the homeless subplot is a bit glossed over, it was just nice to see it mentioned. Not many authors give their heroines backgrounds that aren't strictly middle class.

While I've been rather harsh on this book, it actually isn't bad. It isn't good either. Basically Mistaken for a Mistress is a bland, middle of the road type of novel that just happens to contain a few touching elements.

If you're already in the middle of The Ashtons series, definitely pick this one up. If not, read the others first.

--Amanda Waters

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