Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday Film Night ::: Treacherous Beauties

This week's Friday Film is the sixth in the Harlequin Mills & Boon adaptations made for TV in the early 90s, Treacherous Beauties, reviewed by Bronwyn Jameson.

When I checked the cover blurb for Treacherous Beauties, I clapped my hands with glee. A mystery to be solved, a dangerous attraction, and set against the backdrop of a thoroughbred stud farm. My kind of film and slightly serendipitous, as I picked up the DVD to watch the same day I'd blogged about the upcoming Silhouette Special Edition series Thoroughbred Legacy.

According to one website link, Treacherous Beauties was the first of the 12 Harlequin movies made and was aired a few short months after filming in 1994. Sadly that haste shows, in the script, the acting, the editing. But that didn't stop me enjoying the high melodrama or lusting after the fabulous stable complex.

The movie stars popular soap actress Emma Samms as photojournalist Anne Marie Kerr who learns that her only family, brother Alan, has been shot and killed in an alleged hunting accident. Anne Marie's suspicions are aroused by a visit from a woman claiming to be Alan's fiance. Tiffany believes that Alan's employee, the powerful, moneyed Jason Hollister, is responsible for his death.

Anne Marie arrives at the small town of Devil's Gorge--and, yes, there is a slight air of gothic to the movie's tone--and rents Alan's cabin under an assumed name. Using her talent with a camera she secures a job photographing the Hollister horses and preparing a catalogue for an upcoming auction. She meets the family matriarch played by Tippi Hedren, the charming younger son Brent (Mark Humphrey) and his beautiful, polished wife Simone (Catherine Oxenburg.)

Finally she meets Jason, played (often sans-shirt) by Bruce Greenwood. He is set up as mysterious, autocratic and fierce tempered. It's obvious that something shady is going on at Hollister Stables, and that this may be linked to Alan's death, but gathering evidence will not be easy. The family owns the town. There has been a less-than-thorough investigation. And although Jason might often forget to put a shirt on, he is no fool and Anne Marie's arrival in town has raised his suspicions.

Watching this movie was an interesting experience. It felt almost as though I was reading a romance novel told entirely (apart from the omniscient opening) from the heroine's viewpoint. This added to the gothic, old-fashioned feel and increased the air of dangerous mystery that surrounded Jason. The major romantic conflict was an issue of extreme trust: Anne Marie was attracted to the man who may have killed her brother. There is much drama--even melodrama--as the truth unfolds and the attraction heats up.

Anne Marie is a heroine to admire. Plucky, courageous, driven to discover the truth. Unfortunately she also succumbs to several TSTL moments, which leads to the exposure of her true identity and an attempt on her life. I have to say that the who-shot-Alan mystery plot was not as engaging or suspenseful as it could have been, but the romance and the family dynamics provided a dramatic counterpoint. Not a good movie, but an interesting viewing experience for any fan of category romance.

Treacherous Beauties is adapted from a 1993 Silhouette Shadows of the same title. It appears to be the only published book by Cheryl Emerson.

Horses are one thing I find hard to resist if mentioned in a book or movie blurb. Is there an element, a job or a setting that you find nigh impossible to resist? And are you even more picky about the details and any research inadequacies because of your intense interest in the subject?

Bronwyn Jameson's latest release Tycoon's One-Night Revenge features her version of a dangerous mystery man in Donovan Keane. A spin-off from her 2005 trilogy, Princes of the Outback, this Silhouette Desire is a June release in Australia and still available in America. Check her website for details.


  1. Hi Bron,

    How lovely to have you here. And to read about this movie. It's one I've never seen.

    Hm, you find horses hard to resist, eh? I wonder if that's a common theme among romance readers? My next book 'The Desert King's Pregnant Bride' is about a woman who works as a stable hand on a huge horse stud, owned by an enigmatic prince. Whenever I've mentioned the story to people their eyes have lit up. I'd hoped it was because the story sounded interesting, but maybe it was just the equine theme. (G).

    I'm a sucker for all sorts of romances though it's usually themes rahter than locations that suck me in. I have to admit though that if I know something about the background and it's really not right, it pulls me out of the story.

    This one intrigues me with its hint of the gothic.


  2. Oh, Annie, my eyes are lit! That book has gone straight to my Must Read list!! As well as loving the horse setting AND the enigmatic prince, I'm wondering if this story is inspired by real life (the sale of Woodlands Stud)?


  3. Bron, I agree that the movie was very melodramatic and it seemed more a period piece than a contemporary to me, which probably accounted for it's gothic feel. There was a lot of intensity and lusting and at first I wasn't really sure I would enjoy a movie with Bruce Greenwood as the stereotypical leading man. But he's an excellent actor and he proved me wrong, playing the lead just right.

    It wasn't one of the best of the Harlequin movies but I enjoyed it. I'm not a horse person and I did enjoy the setting too.

  4. I agree. It's not a good movie but a shirtless Bruce Greenwood was a definite compensation. Sometimes I am disappointed at how shallow I am ...

  5. Maxine, yep on the period piece. Seemed much older than the 90s. They weren't *that* long ago. Hmmmm on Bruce Greenwood = excellent actor. Although I shouldn't base any assessment on this film because he had so little to do. (Not his fault.) What else has he been in?

    Natasha, I suspect the shirtless thing was for we...not shallow...but asthetically inclined types. *g*