New York attorney Stone Barrington beds still another unsuitable partner and suffers the consequences—well, almost suffers.
Considering what catnip Stone (Fast and Loose, 2017, etc.) is to the ladies, he doesn’t always choose his conquests as wisely as he might, and when gossipy reporter Gloria Parsons, of the beguilingly named Just Folks, presses him for an interview about his relationship to Holly Barker, the new secretary of state and one of his long-term lovers, he can’t resist her 6-foot frame and other assets. Soon they’re making sweet music together, but remarkably soon after that, an admiringly smarmy description of him in her story sours it all, and Stone cuts her off. Gloria, not one to take rejection lying down, plots to reopen the murder case of Arrington Calder Barrington, the long-ago lover whose death left Stone filthy rich, so that she can smear Stone in the pages of Just Folks. When Stone finds an unexpectedly simple way to neutralize that threat, Gloria raises the stakes further, and so does Stone. As New York Gov. Benton Blake, the replacement lover Gloria seduced into commuting the sentence of her friend Danny Blaine when Stone declined to exercise his own influence on Danny’s behalf, gets ready to announce his candidacy for the U.S. Senate, Stone manages to wreck his plans as well, and without even leaving his fingerprints on the wreckage. It’s only a matter of time before Gloria’s resentment boils over to inspire the ultimate threat of revenge, and it’s the least convincing one of all.
Woods, who’s never been shy about recycling material from his hero’s earlier adventures, here reprises the plot of Carnal Curiosity (2014) and manages to resurrect some much older matter as well. The fade-out, however, promises new developments that follow a predictably inflated curve.