Review: Femme Faux Fatale by Susan Laine

Mystery. Murder. Men in silk stockings. Hollywood nights are heating up.

Hardboiled Los Angeles PI Cain Noble is hired by wealthy and gorgeous Camille Astor to find her husband and a priceless work of art, both of which have disappeared.

At the nightclub owned by Mr. Astor, Cain encounters the mesmerizing Lily Lavender, who has the body of a goddess and the sultry voice of an angel—but is really a young man named Riley who attracts trouble like a magnet.

What’s a private dick in the vein of LA’s bygone era and a cross-dressing burlesque starlet to do when faced with the hidden decadence and lethal dangers of the Hollywood Hills? They have their work cut out for them because they haven’t even scratched the surface of an elaborate scheme more twisted than anyone could ever have imagined.

I liked the story for the nostalgia it gave me of the classic film noir, detective, whodunit and pulp fiction stories that I have loved for many years. That alone pulled me through the story and yet, I did find it hard to connect with.

Told mainly in the POV of our Private Dick, Cain Noble, the story begins with a bombshell walking into his office and life at the right time. Camille Astor is looking for her missing husband Sheridan as well as the missing piece of artwork that is worth a pretty penny or a few million. Camille and Sheridan are the owners of a burlesque club and seem to have an arranged marriage of sorts as she gives Cain information about his disappearance and he decides to take the case. What’s interesting about this first meeting with Cain and Camille is Cain’s carnal reaction to the woman. Cain is gay and has never had an attraction to a woman but he is lusting after Camille at first glance like an old Looney Tunes character with his heart beating out of his chest. Cain appreciates every inch of Camille and his lust is hard to temper.

But things aren’t as they seem in this book with the twists, turns, lies, deceit and gender bending that goes on. It makes the reading flow easily while you’re trying to figure out who is who, who they lied to and what really is going on.

I did like Cain but while I got the feeling of old school noir from him, his lack of knowledge about the film genre was contradicting. He as a great guy, the traditional anti-hero who did have a thing for pulp fiction novels and loved how the hero could fail, do the wrong thing but still save the day and yet, I couldn’t fully connect with him. I did like how he fell hard for Riley both as himself and as Lily. Cain found himself a new kink when he finds a lover who likes to dress in feminine clothing and lingerie. THAT I loved and got but I never quite meshed with Cain.

If he was really honest with himself, he would have wanted to undress Lily so as to relish his lace panties and silk stockings, to savor the padded push-up bra and tight form-fitting cocktail dress, to slowly do away with the feminine trappings and reveal the masculine treat underneath.
Riley… well it was the same with him. I am not sure what it was but while I liked Riley, I never bonded with him nor really felt the connection between him and Cain. I liked who Riley was as himself and all that brought him to be a burlesque performer. I loved that he liked feminine clothing and that he found Cain irresistible from the beginning. I know how he felt about Cain and I know how Cain felt about Riley because I was told how they felt. I just never got a chance to feel it.
The mystery was done well with the twists and turns with who everyone was and who was behind it all. I liked the quoting of old movies and the genuine feel of the story, I just never felt it like I wanted to. Maybe it is just me? Who knows? It wasn’t a bad read at all, I liked it. I just wanted to feel more romance in it than I did.

An ARC was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

1 comment: