Love and Smoke is steamy alright, fascinating story, complicated plot, great descriptive writing. However, the romance between the main characters, Riva and Noel, is seriously lacking in warmth. They have passion enough, the few times they are together, but the side character of Dante is far more intriguing. He has laughter and kindness, and his romance with another character was so much better.
We never get to know Noel well enough, and Riva doesn't know him that much better than we do. Blake gives more insight into the workings of Gallant's mind than Noel's - the villain has a lot more presence. The dramatic subplot endangering the main characters is a lot more compelling than the central romance.
Noel has looks, nobility of spirit, and exaggerated martyrdom, but his character is not magnetic. ...
Riva Staulet's cool beauty belies the passions roiling within her. Now, she has everything she has ever wanted. But it hasn't always been that way. Many years before, there was a charming, handsome man who tried to take everything from her. Now he has his eye on the governor's mansion and Riva has not forgotten his cruelty..