Daphne Pembroke needs a man with quick wits as well as brute strength to help her find her kidnapped brother and a stolen papyrus that might reveal the location of a pharaoh's treasure. NOT the big, dumb oaf the British consulate in Cairo foists on her (however handsome he may be). Still, Daphne figures she has enough brains for two. Perhaps Rupert Carsington will prove useful if heads need to be knocked together. Now if only she could think clearly in his presence ...
Rupert Carsington reckons helping an intriguing young widow is preferable to digging in the hot desert looking for artifacts for his scholarly cousin. Especially when the widow is devastatingly attractive. And if playing stupid makes her explode with temper in such an adorable way ...
This seemingly mismatched pair soon embark on the adventure of a lifetime, in which falling in love becomes the greatest thrill of all.
So begins Mr. Impossible, the second book in Loretta Chase's series about the Carsington brothers. While the previous book (Miss Wonderful) grappled with weightier issues, such as the physical and emotional scars of war, Mr. Impossible was a fun romp from start to finish, the in-print equivalent to watching a two-tubs-of-popcorn adventure movie.
Sailing down the Nile in pursuit of kidnappers, Daphne and Rupert unwittingly stumble into the middle of a showdown between rival Egyptologists.
The Frenchman Duval believes Daphne's brother Miles can translate the hieroglyphics on the stolen papyrus and lead him to a tomb filled with treasure. But Miles isn't the brilliant linguist most believe him to be. He acts the part to shield his sister, the true genius of the family, from prejudice against female scholars.
The Englishman Lord Noxley, known as the Golden Devil, pursues Duval and his men, hoping to rescue Miles and thereby win the heart of Daphne. Unscrupulous and ruthless, Noxley (or "Lord Noxious," as Rupert calls him) believes Daphne's fortune and Miles's linguistic talents will help him become the premier Egyptologist of the age.
During their Nile journey, while facing perils including dark, labyrinthine tombs, murderous brigands and deadly vipers, Rupert and Daphne grow uncomfortably aware of their attraction to each other. They are both brave, resourceful people but novices when it comes to love. The easygoing Rupert, with his devil-may-care attitude toward life, has always loved women and left them. He has no names for the emotions Daphne stirs in him and is bewildered by the loneliness he feels when he cannot be by her side.
Daphne is coping with the aftereffects of an unhappy first marriage to a man nearly three times her age. Her late husband, jealous of her intellect and passionate nature, convinced Daphne she was a damaged, unwomanly creature who needed to tame her "base" instincts. Her intense desire for Rupert shames her at first, until Rupert convinces her, bit by bit, that he loves her for who she truly is.
Rupert and Daphne's love story forms the core of the novel, but Chase also included a great deal of action, humor, witty dialogue and hair-raising escapes, as well as a wonderful cast of supporting characters. They include the comically pessimistic Leena, Daphne's maid, who reacts to all difficulties with pronouncements of gloom and doom; Tom, Rupert's adoring servant, who convinces others his master is a genie able to call down curses on his enemies; and Ghazi, the Golden Devil's right-hand man, a cheerfully efficient killer. Chase also included many intriguing details about life among the Egyptians to give the story a strong sense of place.
The only thing that annoyed me was the number of times Chase reminded me Daphne and Rupert had the hots for each other and wanted to tear each other's clothes off. I got that the first dozen times she brought it up. Still, Chase scores points for writing passionate, believable and sexy love scenes. My grade: A-