After re-reading Judith McNaught’s Paradise and Perfect and enjoying them a lot more than I did as a teenager, I was very excited to read the third instalment in her Second Opportunities series. Not having read Night Whispers earlier, I ended up finishing the book in a single stretch. However, it failed to pack the punch its predecessors did.
Sloan Reynolds is an idealistic cop with a perfect life. She has a doting mother, a spunky best friend, a town full of people who either want to be her or be with her. Her peaceful existence is shattered by a phone call from her estranged father, a millionaire banker-socialite, hoping to mend fences thirty years after he had abandoned Sloan and her mother and taken Sloan’s sister with him. Sloan tells him to go to hell, but a meeting with FBI agent Paul Richardson convinces her to go to Palm Beach, with him posing as her friend, to spy on her father. However, she doesn’t know that Paul is hiding a crucial piece of the puzzle from her.
Once she’s there, Sloan has a hard time warming up to her father, her sister Paris, and her great-grandmother Edith. Constantly feeling out of her league and pretending to be someone she isn’t, she doesn’t even know how to respond to the advances of Noah Maitland, the handsome tycoon who’s also a family friend. With time, she begins to fall, not just for Noah, but also his irascible teenage sister, Courtney, and his charming father, Douglas. Sloan also forges strong bonds with Paris and Edith, but she can’t seem to shake her distrust of her father. As usual, the supporting characters have been sketched delightfully by McNaught, but Sloan’s father could have done with a lot more character development.
The rest of the novel follows the pattern McNaught has stuck to in all of her books. An intelligent, beautiful woman and a rich, handsome and arrogant man fall in love until a Big Misunderstanding tears them apart and they have to overcome their demons to find true love. Which is fine, if it wasn’t for the fact that in Night Whispers, McNaught has tried to hybridise the romance with a very trite crime/murder-mystery plot that rears its head only in the last quarter of the book. The story is shorter than usual, and McNaught has squandered those pages describing police procedure instead of fleshing out the elaborate love story she is famous for.
Night Whispers is a subpar read as compared to McNaught’s other works, be it contemporary or historical romance. The suspense is too predictable and the background is not given enough attention. The characters were the saving grace, equivalent to great actors doing a bad movie. Fans of McNaught might like this book and the links it draws to her other works. But I would not recommend this book to fans of either mysteries or romance.