Intangible Dream is the kind of Harlequin Presents that old-school fans will enjoy. Despite the lack of descriptive love scenes, there is plenty of pa...moreIntangible Dream is the kind of Harlequin Presents that old-school fans will enjoy. Despite the lack of descriptive love scenes, there is plenty of passion in this novel. And enough true love to make a diehard romantic sigh when they finish the last sentence.
It has a strong, fascinating hero who's pretty much obsessed with the heroine. Readers who love heroes who are stone cold in love with the heroine will find this book very romantic and James irresistible. Wilson maintains the tension of the reader sensing the hero's feelings, although we don't get his point of view. You feel like Gemma has underestimated his feelings for her, even though you don't find out how much until later on. Despite that, he conveys just enough and says enough to make it clear that he's crazy about Gemma. While Gemma puts up quite a fight against falling in love with James and into his plans for her, I could understand her reasons, even though I knew just how crazy James was about her. She was a bit too hurtful at times, although I think it was because she felt like she was a mouse caught in the lion's paws, out of self-defense.
Gemma has a sweet shyness and awkwardness about that I found really appealing. I could definitely see myself in her shoes, especially when I was younger. I am sure I would feel a bit overwhelmed by James' powerful personality, especially if I was youngish and very sheltered by an overprotective father (she's a very sheltered 24-yr-old) . The scenes in which James teases Gemma and draws her out of her shell are really appealing. They have a warmth and made me smile. Some readers don't care for young and innocent heroines, but they don't bother me, especially if their naivety makes sense and feels authentic. While Gemma is definitely naive, she wants to gain some agency in her life, and she has a lot of courage considering. After a life of being in a gilded cage with her dad, she doesn't want to change it to a gold cage as James' trophy wife. When she realizes his love is genuine and that she feels the same, that makes a big difference to her, and it shows in the denouement.
I think this might be one of my favorites by this author so far. I think James is a Class A Stalkerific hero (shows the possessive/jealous/obsessed traits I find a guilty pleasure, but not in a really psycho way that's too disturbing). I also liked Gemma a lot. They make a good couple and they made me root for things to work out for them. I recommend this to fans of the older Harlequin Presents, and for any fan of stalkerific romance novel heroes.
Lynne Graham excels in getting the reader's juices flowing, particularly in her older books. I pulled this one off the pile as part of my Harlequin Pr...moreLynne Graham excels in getting the reader's juices flowing, particularly in her older books. I pulled this one off the pile as part of my Harlequin Presents Binge because I knew I'd get something cathartic. I wasn't disappointed.
I liked the fact that Vito is quite sympathetic. He is actually a nice guy, although he does tend to want things his way. He did and said things the wrong way to Ashley, but He had no idea about how traumatic her upbringing was. So I can't really hold that against him.
Even though Ashley was hard to get along with, I liked that about her. I get tired of the heroine who is the hero's dumpbucket, there to be kicked around except for in bed. Ashley isn't shy about standing up for herself or telling Vito what for. Her aggressiveness about certain topics is 100% linked to her past, and I think that if she had felt free to open up, I don't think they would have broken up in the first place.
I think Ashley is definitely one of Graham's most tortured heroines, despite her flaws. Frankly, her homelife sucked, and the abandonment she faced by her family was lousy. Because of her parents highly dysfunctional marriage and her father's abuse (both mental/emotional and at times physical), she has a low opinion of marriage and any sort of commitment, and she was raised to disdain anything feminine. I like to think that Vito could have been the family she lacked, if he had been given full disclosure on her past. Instead, he thought the worst of her instead of digging to the deeper issues beneath her posturing. He took her aversion to commitment and marriage as a sign of a moral failing in her, instead of a sign of emotional scars. They missed out on three years together as a result.
While Ashley is still argumentative and abrasive, she genuinely loved Vito and was heartbroken about their breakup and a loss she suffers shortly thereafter. She has the time to revisit her past strong opinions about marriage and family, realizing a lot of them weren't her own. But now Vito has cast her in the role of heartless jade, although he never got over her. I like that Vito still went after her, even though he thought the worst of her and knew she could hurt him. It showed that his love for her hadn't died. And this time, he wasn't going to settle for a non-committed sexual relationship. He wanted marriage, as he had before, and he wasn't afraid to blackmail to get it this time around.
There is a lot of tension, both sexual and relationship, and plenty of drama in this book. I don't know if I ever read this back in the day. I didn't own it, and I think I would have remembered if it had read it. The feels like Classic Lynne Graham and is worth having in the collection of serious fans of hers. (less)
This was a pretty good book, but it's one of those books where it would have lasted thirty pages if the leads had just sat down and had a long convers...moreThis was a pretty good book, but it's one of those books where it would have lasted thirty pages if the leads had just sat down and had a long conversation. There's only so long that you can sustain tension in a book in which the lead couple splits up due to lies and misunderstanding, without one of the leads being shown in a negative light. In this case, I did like Charley, but she seemed really immature in her decision-making. I couldn't help but think that maybe she needed some time to grow up. She married very young (soon after losing her parents), before her personality was even formed, and she felt so insecure that everything that happened in her marriage seemed like an indictment against herself as lacking as a wife/woman in comparison to the dreaded other woman.
Sebastian was actually a decent guy, although I wish he had been a little more proactive in demanding an explanation and explicitly clarifying his end of things when they were newlyweds. Again, back to what I sad before about the falseness of the conflict. You couldn't really blame either character, although they both messed up, so you're left to wonder what was the point of the four year separation. I think the author probably wanted Charley to have time to grow up, but I wish that their reason for breaking up the first time was more organic and less contrived (OW's machinations). Yeah, I realize that the OW drama is a very important sub-theme in Harlequin Presents books. This one was just so hackneyed and unbelievable, really.
I think this is one of those books you just have to be in the mood for. It's fairly classic Harlequin Presents from the late 80s-early 90s. Charley's fiance is such a buffoon, and actually quite unattractive (both physically and personality-wise). It's hard to believe that she would have fallen for him, other than the fact that she was just lonely and hurting and the oaf took advantage of that. I guess it was a good thing that Sebastian wasn't complacent enough to give her a divorce right way (wanted to fight for their reconciliation-although words wouldn't have gone amiss!). The heroine could use some maturity, even after four years apart from the hero, and the hero should learn to stand up for himself better. I do have to say the chemistry and sensuality was well-done and helped my rating considerably. I'm typically not into Latin heroes, but he was kinda scrumptious.
A slightly better than middle of the road read. Overall rating: 3.5/5.0 stars.(less)
I gobbled this book down. Seriously! I was so drawn into this story. The heroine's personality and the psychology of her character was tremendously fa...moreI gobbled this book down. Seriously! I was so drawn into this story. The heroine's personality and the psychology of her character was tremendously fascinating. I think Milburne nailed Natalie. Natalie was a ball of rage, and with good reason. She is a realistic product of toxic parents who have forced an innocent child to shoulder blame for something that never should have been her responsibility. And as the author showed, this damage doesn't just disappear overnight. Instead, a hurt child like Natalie takes that into her adulthood and every relationship she has as a grown woman. I literally hurt for Natalie.
Some readers would be turned off by her comments to Angelo, which were often abusive. But to me, I could see them for what they were, a cry for help. Natalie felt trapped by her family obligations and how they had damaged and poisoned her life and her very self-esteem. She wanted to break free, but that wasn't as easy as it seemed. Honestly, I think she probably needs therapy, and I personally feel that an encounter with Jesus Christ would do a lot of good for her. He would take away those burdens and the anger and pain she carries. It hurt to see her truly hating life and having trouble even enjoying one day in her life. I was just glad she hadn't taken the suicidal route. I think she felt obligated to live because of what had happened to her when she was young. So in real life, I would have expected something more interventionist for Natalie than just a love connection with the hero. Most of the time, that isn't going to fix what is broken, although being loved unconditionally is an important ingredient. But in the context of this story, I liked how the author dealt with her issues. Angelo has truly impressed me. He make a few miss-steps along the way, but overall he showed tremendous patience, even though Natalie did things that were hurtful to him. I liked how he didn't give up on her, but kept showing her that she mattered to him and he wanted a life with her. Considering how hurt Natalie was and how damaged her family was, and his ignorance of that, I think Angelo did a great job of connecting to her. Other than one thing he does shortly after they get married, I found him to be a real hero. Just the man for this very wounded woman. Maybe not truly realistic, but still I felt the power of their connection and how it put Natalie on the track to healing.
Man, this book blew me away. I found it very enthralling and emotionally involvinhg. It also involved me intellectually as I assembled the puzzles of Natalie's tormented psyche and came up with a picture of a woman who had been wronged so utterly by her parents. They had failed her in huge ways, and that kind of damage just sets an adult up for a lot of dysfunctional relationships as they get older.
I don't normally read Harlequin Presents for a look at 'real life.' I'll be honest. But I love angst and passion and I love seeing hurting people find happiness, healing and love. And Ms. Milburne definitely delivers.
This book won't be for everyone. But I was very impressed. I just pimped it to my sister, who doesn't read a lot of Harlequin Presents. I can't wait to see what she thinks of it.
A nice old school Harlequin Presents. Jonas has a repressed/dark/seething vibe that I found intriguing. Jonas is intense! He and Cassandra apparently...moreA nice old school Harlequin Presents. Jonas has a repressed/dark/seething vibe that I found intriguing. Jonas is intense! He and Cassandra apparently couldn't stand each other. So why was he demanding marriage from her? This is one of those books that works better if you don't have the hero's POV. You have to use your imagination on what the hero is thinking and why he does what he does until the last few pages, and then you get the reveal and all is good.
It's a guilty pleasure of mine, but I love the blackmail marriage theme. It's harder to pull off in the newer books because most readers aren't going to go for a book with a heroine-limited POV, and it would almost surely spoil it if you know what the hero's thinking in this scenario. I think it can be done, but it would take some skills.
I liked that Cassandra decided to dive in and find out about the relationship between Jonas and his father. There is clearly something very wrong, and it very much affects her since she was married to his half-brother (she's his widow). Jonas's bitterness and lack of trust can be linked right back to his troubled relationship with his father, and secrets that come to be revealed about his father's marriage. It wasn't just selfish on her part, though. She correctly felt like it was destroying Jonas and he was missing out on a genuine relationship with his father, and she wanted to help, out of love for him.
I felt like Jonas was a "still waters run deep" guy when it came to his feelings for Cassandra (or at least I read them into his interactions with her). He is very fixated on her, and has been since they first met. I didn't think it was just about her having been married to his brother (and spillover resentment for his brother). I liked how the reveal wasn't just about their relationship, but how everything in Jonas' family's dysfunctional dynamic affected Jonas and his relationships as a grown man.
I liked his relationship with Cassandra's daughter, and it was an integral part of the story. You could see that he had a soft aspect to his personality in the way he bonded with her. He will definitely be a good father. He also did things for Cassandra that her first marriage didn't. She loved Charles, but Charles was kind of immature for his age, and she felt like the parent. With Jonas, he is able and willing to be the husband who is a protector and provider for his wife. While Cassandra is an independent woman, I think even self-sufficient women want a man who they feel will carry his weight as a partner/husband.
This book is a good read, not just a romance book, but a book about the way that family relationships can affect our ability to relate with others in our adult lives, and that we need to seek healing so we can move on and love others in a healthy way. I was glad that even though things worked out with Jonas and Cassandra, he also reestablished a relationship with his father and knew how much his father loved him. This one's worth seeking out, in my opinion.(less)
This was a very good book. From the first page, I was sucked in. There was so much emotional intensity and sizzle in every interaction between Colette...moreThis was a very good book. From the first page, I was sucked in. There was so much emotional intensity and sizzle in every interaction between Colette and Stephen. Tension in all the good ways when it comes to a romance book. I liked how I continued to discover more about Colette and Stephen. I was not able to hold onto judgments about their behaviors or their personalities.
Stephen captivated me. I don't like player heroes, and he challenged my perceptions of him. I admit that I liked him intensely. I could see that he felt so much for Colette, even if he didn't want to, and he didn't understand how. I loved that he never got over her. He pursued her out of love from the beginning, even if he didn't think he was capable of love. I love that he was tough and strong, an alpha hero (and in a vital way that I don't always feel with the Harlequin Presents businessmen heroes). He has that air that draws me to a hero like superglue. I think he's a great dad, and I loved his interactions with Emma. Stephen doesn't think much of himself, but I do, and I can totally see what Colette fell in love with him. He was sexy and utterly appealing in a way that I don't always feel with the average Harlequin Presents hero. He had a 'dangerous to a woman's heart' air that really spoke to me as I read, and I imagine that he would be irresistible to a woman, even a woman so wary of involvement as Colette. Colette was a good person. She had some self-esteem issues that turn out to be perfectly understandable. I felt I couldn't judge her for running away, and I really respected her for apologizing and facing the music for not telling Stephen about their child together. She was a good mix of tough yet vulnerable. She was a realistic woman with a depth that made me feel for her. I think for what she experienced as a child, she should be proud of herself and what she's accomplished in life, building a career for herself and raising a healthy, happy daughter despite events that could have damaged her completely as a person.
With both Colette and Stephen, Natasha Tate did such a great job of crafting their characters. I could see why they had their commitment/fears of love issues because of their childhoods. That kind of emotional trauma can undermine a child's sense of self and their ability to bond and form relationships. I'm not a big fan of the secret baby theme, but this book serves as an example of a theme that you don't like being used to good effect in a skilled author's hands. I believe that the reason why Colette got pregnant with Emma, despite their using contraception, was that they were meant to be together, because they truly were soul-mates with love for each other that was capable of healing them, and together they are stronger. It wasn't an easy journey, but the results were so worthwhile in the end.
Something drew me to reading this book, even with the blurb having aspects that would normally turn me off a book. I have to say that I am impressed with Natasha Tate's writing. She created a compelling, sexy, intense, emotional book that I thoroughly enjoyed. That makes for a 4.5/5.0 star rating, a place on my keeper's shelf, and makes her an author to watch out for. I look forward to reading more of her books.
If you like the stories where the heroine is hopelessly misunderstood by the hero, then you’d like this one. The hero is drawn to her, but he knows sh...moreIf you like the stories where the heroine is hopelessly misunderstood by the hero, then you’d like this one. The hero is drawn to her, but he knows she’s a ‘bad girl’ in some way. In this case, Grant thinks that Devon’s demanding, spendthrift ways lead to her father embezzling money from his company to keep her in the style to which she had become accustomed. He showed up on their doorstep the night before Devon leaves for Sweden, not for an extravagant vacation like he thinks, but for a surgery that promises to give her full use of her hip, which was injured in the car accident that killed her mother. Devon comes back from Sweden to find that her father has been terminated from his job at Grant’s business, and will likely be prosecuted. She approaches Grant and asks him not to prosecute her father, and she’ll do anything he wants in return. His proposition is that she live with him as his mistress. Devon is willing to do this so that she can save her father from prison.
I liked that Grant wanted to be the ruthless seducer, but he didn’t really have it in him. He was clearly in love with Devon early on. He was kind of grumpy about it, but he had every opportunity to seduce her, but he didn’t take them, after he finds out that she had a bad hip and the money was spent to get her well. From that point, he does everything he can to get her to rest as she’s supposed to so she can get the all clear at her follow up.
I thought it was cute how Devon kept throwing herself at Grant so he would go ahead and fulfill his part of the bargain before her father comes back from the business trip in Scotland that Grant sent him on. Grant seems to come up with excuses for them not to be ‘together.’ Although Devon was clueless about Grant’s feelings for her, I as the reader, was not.
I really liked this book. It was a fun read. Devon was a nice girl, and Grant finally looked past his cynicism to see that, because Cupid’s bow had struck him dead center in the heart. (less)
**spoiler alert** My feelings about this book are conflicted. I did like the intensity with this story. I felt that the connection between Clary and M...more**spoiler alert** My feelings about this book are conflicted. I did like the intensity with this story. I felt that the connection between Clary and Morgan was fated in an impossible to rationalize away. However, I just couldn't reconcile the relationship with Susan away. I know that Morgan didn't know that Susan was married when they got together, but he continued to sleep with her after he knew and was willing to take a separation as enough to continue his adulterous relationship with another man's wife. I know my issues stem from my incredible distaste for adultery. I tried to tell myself what Clary told herself, what Morgan did prior to her was his business, but it was too sordid for me to just chalk away. So I could understand how hard it was for Clary, on multiple levels. In addition to unresolved issues from her father's destruction of his own marriage, I think that she was in a very difficult situation with her love for Morgan in direct conflict with her loyalty and love for her brother, the wronged husband. I like that Donald didn't minimize this issue, but it was something they both had to deal with face on. Morgan's way of dealing with it was interesting, and in a forceful way, probably the most direct solution to the problem.
I love a possessive, jealous, obsessed hero, but something about Morgan didn't sit right with me. Maybe I didn't detect enough vulnerability from him early enough on. He seemed a lot more controlling than I like in a hero. While I love a stalkerific hero, I don't like controlling heroes, and Morgan is definitely that. On the good side, his devotion for Clary was undeniable. He showed that what he felt for her was different from what he'd felt for women in the past. This is one of those books where I can say definitively that I wouldn't be happy with a man like this in real life. I'm not sure how many women could be happy with a man like Morgan, with his controlling, somewhat inflexible (the world bends to him and he doesn't bend to the world), and yes, manipulative personality. As an only child, he has a hard sort of self-absorption that expects others to fall in with his own wants and needs. That is not to say he is incapable of generosity or acts of kindness. They are just on his terms. Not sure that would be the ideal marriage partner, honestly.
I decided to give this book four stars because it has a lot of intensity and depth to it, which does appeal to me as a reader. Additionally, I felt a mixture of very vivid emotions as I read it. When I read books, I want to experience the books on a visceral level, and I did feel that with A Willing Surrender. Yes, this is one for readers who can't resist a stalkerific hero, but there were aspects about Morgan's character that compromised my ability to like him as a hero, especially his unethical response to the issue of sustaining an adulterous relationship with another man's wife. He even admitted his jealousy and possessive feelings towards Clary. Put on the other man's shoes! It was like he didn't consider what that might do to another man whose wife he was sleeping with. And it wasn't like he was in love with Susan and truly couldn't let her go. That's undesirable to me.
I know I have massively over-thought this book. What can I say? I can't leave my brain behind when I read books.(less)
**spoiler alert** **Let me give a warning in this review about this book:
If you don't like rape/forced seduction/non-consent scenario, do not read thi...more**spoiler alert** **Let me give a warning in this review about this book:
If you don't like rape/forced seduction/non-consent scenario, do not read this book. If you tolerate or don't mind this content, then you may like this book despite that material. **
This book was recommended to me on a forum somewhere (perhaps for the objectionable content above). I must have ordered it to see how that was handled. I am curious about how authors were able to approach questionable content and still 1) get published, 2) gain a following, 3)write a book that others will recommend. I think that many readers have enough intelligence and self-awareness to read a book in which questionable content occurs and take it as written and either decide they can deal with the way it was written and treat it as fiction that doesn't espouse or endorse said behavior in real life, or decide that it didn't work for them. As I grow older, I have gotten very intolerant to rape (between the leads) in a romance. Let's face it, back in the 80s, it was hard to avoid this content, so you just dealt with it. Now, it's rare, and I think that is a reflection of the times. I never really liked it, to be honest. ( I am okay with forced seduction, but that does read different in a book. (although in real life, rape is rape) I think it's because the prevalence of violence against women (and the manner in which it is addressed) that occurs in society has sensitized me to this issue. Let me say this here and now: Spousal rape is a real thing, and it is 100% wrong. That's my official stance on it. That doesn't mean that I will give a book 1 star just because it has spousal rape or non-consent sexual encounters without consideration of other factors.
In this book, it was rather shocking to me. Not that it was graphically depicted, but that the writer didn't try to dress it up as anything other than rape. I believe that the author handled the subject matter responsibly and I feel that the hero was both sorry for what he did and realized how serious his action was. He didn't expect forgiveness, although he did ask for it. The heroine didn't accept blame for what happened or write it off, or assume that he had to right to rape her just because he was her husband (and Thank God for that). It was something she had to process emotionally and I was overall okay with the way the characters dealt with it. In the context of a fiction novel, I can see such a situation and deal with it. In reality, no. In my mind, I face the reality of this situation in light of a US senator's recent comment dismissing spousal rape, and it gives me a sick feeling inside. I wonder if that was a coincidence that I read this book a couple of days after seeing what this senator said. Maybe, but since I don't live in a vacuum, I can't really dismiss that coincidence.
So what do I think about this book?
I don't know if it was a very comfortable book to read on many levels.
Normally, I love the marriage of convenience theme, and I like when the heroine is reluctant to fall in love with the hero and he has to woo her. I don't feel this book is a good representation of the timelessness of this theme. First of all, while I could understand Cara's reluctance to warm to her husband, I still feel that her treatment of him was immature and mean-spirited. I am not talking about the rape situation right now, let me be clear. Right now, I am talking about her attitude for the majority of the book. In my mind, she had a choice to marry Nicholas, and she agreed to marry him in good faith. Nicholas treated her kindly, was willing to give her space and room, and he was tolerant of her meanness. The way she treated him made her seem like a big baby and I admit it made her less likable. Considering that he was helping her family out of a situation that her father engineered (although there was definitely some self-interest on his part), she seemed very unbalanced in her enmity towards Nicholas compared to her father and brothers, who were essentially willing to sell their daughter/sister to a man to save their own butts. Not to mention she is used as a dogsbody in the family. There is a lot of unaddressed pathology in this family in the background of this book.
This is one of those books where the term 'enjoying' doesn't really apply. It was a painful situation, because you could see that Nicholas was deeply in love with Cara, but Cara had emotional problems stemming from her childhood that were never addressed or dealt with. I suppose that is an example of carrying baggage into a marriage that makes it very difficult for a marriage to survive. In this case, we have a tidy(ish) ending that makes you hopeful that their marriage will survive. I guess I feel that their chances are good, but in my mind, I feel that Cara and Nicholas both need to go to marriage counseling to deal with their issues and to learn how to communicate. While the rape was a huge issue, it was the tip of the iceberg of the issues they have in their marriage, and one would hope they are able to deal with these issues in a healthy fashion and keep their marriage together.
I guess I would give this book three stars because I wasn't overly satisfied with the subject matter treatment or with the story on an emotional level. I think that the author is a good writer, and it definitely kept me interested, although sometimes it felt like a train wreck about to happen. Sometimes, that kind of fun with Harlequin Presents, but not in this case.
This book was a delightful breath of fresh air for the current mode of Harlequin Presents. I loved how resistant Sally was to Zac. She saw him and dis...moreThis book was a delightful breath of fresh air for the current mode of Harlequin Presents. I loved how resistant Sally was to Zac. She saw him and dismissed him on first glance because he wasn't her first priority!! How nice. She didn't become a drooling, melting pile of female flesh because of his unbelieveable appeal (rolling eyes). Yes, he was attractive, and she was attracted to him, but she kept a good head on her shoulders when it came to him, for the most part.
I like mutuality in a romance. I like seeing the hero and heroine are mutally engaged, and their affections are even on both sides. In real life, the sad thing is that one person seems to love more than the other. I realize this. So, I tend to not go for that scenario in romances.
Unfortunately, I've read way too many where the man holds all the sexual and emotional power in the relationship. It bugs me. Why should the heroine always be the one to concede, to give in, to change for love? Why shouldn't the hero have to work for her? This was a nice change for this reader.
Zac had to work hard to get Sally. He did some less than ethical things, and made some bad assumptions, and he had to eat some crow, more than once. And the great thing was that Sally wasn't out to treat him poorly or out to use and abuse him. She was just trying to deal with the bad situation she had with her ailing mother and loser, lowdown father. Yes, sometimes women do have more important things to deal with than their sex life or love life, or men.
I think Ms. Baird did a great job writing this story. She showed Sally to be a normal woman, with desires and needs. But Sally was a strong woman who had priorities, and those priorities didn't involve chasing men, casual sex, or being someone's sex toy. Zac gave her an ultimatum, and that gave her an excuse to give into him, because she was very attracted to him. But, before that, she did resist him pretty well, because she didn't want the kind of relationship he was offering. Bravo to her. She didn't give her up needs and goals for some less than satisfactory relationship with a guy who didn't love her. Some might not like that she waited so long to say, "I love you." But it completely made sense, based on the baggage she had with her parents, how her father was a serial adulterer who completely took advantage of her mother, his lovelorn wife. She'd be pretty silly to fall easily for a seemingly inconstant male with her background, in my opinion. And I liked how Zac might have been the typical Italian sex god hero, but in some ways he wasn't. He'd been celibate for almost a year, he worked hard to get what he had, he was able to realize when he was wrong, and make up and apologize for it. And he was willing to take Sally on her terms until she was emotionally able to give him more. I quite liked him for those reasons. I enjoyed their separation (I guess it's my sadistic streak), because Sally was trying to go and find out what life was like without carrying the baggage of her parents on her shoulders. I liked that Zac was the one who was pining. (Yes, I guess I am sadistic. It was so refreshing for me).
I honestly hope to see more books like this in the Harlequin Presents line. With rational, educated, independent women who are not ruled by their libido, and who won't settle for less than they deserve for some 'hot' guy who makes me as a reader question if he's worthwhile for her in the end.
This a was nice book, and such a palate cleaner after a prior Harlequin Presents, who got everything wrong with the sexual/emotional dynamic for this reader.
Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5.0 stars. A for Effort, Ms. Baird.(less)
This was such a fun book. It had some elements that could have made it fairly angsty, but it was handled in such a way that I was able to sit back and...moreThis was such a fun book. It had some elements that could have made it fairly angsty, but it was handled in such a way that I was able to sit back and enjoy the Harlequin Presents-style drama.
Natasha is the prim, buttoned up type. She hides her lush curves and good blond and blue-eyed looks behind proper suits and tied-up hair, but Leo has had his eye on her for a while. Too bad she's engaged to his step-brother. But Leo gets his chance with Natasha when they catch Rico in a compromising position in his office--with none other than Natasha's sister. Leo is there to pick up the pieces of Natasha's bruised heart (or at least her ego). Rico was never good enough for her, but she was flattered that he wanted her, and not her younger, slimmer, and more flashy pop star sister. But apparently, Rico only wanted her for the fact that his mother liked her.
Leo has been cleaning up messes after his step-brother for far too long, out of loyalty to his step-mother, whom his deceased father loved very much. But the straw that breaks the camel's back is when Rico steals money from the business, and then cheats on his fiancee with her sister.
Leo is trying to be noble when it comes to Natasha, but he steals a kiss, or a few. And he wants more. When he finds out that she colluded with his brother to steal his money, all bets are off. She can't get access to the money for six weeks, so she'll spend those six weeks as his mistress, so he can work her out of his system. He couldn't believe he fell for her Miss Prim act, when she was more like his traitorous ex-wife all the time. But it turns out that what he saw with Natasha is what he got. When he takes her virginity, Leo is honor bound to offer marriage (yeah, that was the only reason!). But, Natasha isn't about to trust her heart to a man who doesn't even trust or like her.
There is a battle of wits and passions between this couple that I found highly enjoyable. It was such a refresher. Something about this kind of Harlequin Presents drama that keeps me entertained and takes me out of the mundane world. Yes, Natasha has some emotional ups and downs, but her insecurities felt realistic to her, considering that she was adopted by her parents when they thought they couldn't have kids, and then shuffled to the background when their miracle natural daughter came five years later. Since then, she's watched out for her sister, and kept her out scrapes, managing her pop singing career, and getting no thanks for it. So, it made sense that she doubted Leo's feelings for her.
Michelle Reid is a great writer. She pours passion and emotion into her books, that keeps my eyes glued to the page. This one was a little lighter for her, but not lacking in substance for me. It was a quick, diverting read that I loved. For me, definitely a five star read. (less)
No Way to Begin is a weak four stars read. I found the passionate aspects very appealing. I loved that Anton is a possessive, jealous hero (one of my...moreNo Way to Begin is a weak four stars read. I found the passionate aspects very appealing. I loved that Anton is a possessive, jealous hero (one of my favorite types of heroes), and that he fell like a ton of bricks for Nina months before the book takes place. That part of the story reminded me of Secrets of a Summer Night by Lisa Kleypas where Simon falls for Annabelle and indulges in a lighter form of heroine stalking. Yes, the stalker-type hero isn't for everyone, but I like them. Don't judge me! I don't condone real-life stalking at all. I also like that he clearly is willing to do anything to get her, and in his own rough way tries to take care of Nina.
On the other hand, I think some parts were a bit dry. I don't know if it was a mood thing. I have gotten where I love to see a lot of snappy dialogue and back and forth between the couple in a romance book, and so the older books don't seem to have that as much. I think good dialogue builds up and enhances the chemistry and dramatic tension in a romance book. I felt that Nina was a bit too much the fainting/wilting heroine. I do have to acknowledge that for a 20-year-old who is not worldly, that makes sense, but I wished she was a bit more feisty at some times. Yes, she does do the slapping/hitting thing when cornered, but that's not really what I consider feisty. I think I prefer a heroine who is mouthy and can tell the hero off when it's warranted. Not in a fishwife type way, but a don't cross that line with me kind of way--setting boundaries. I do give her props for how she got her mother-in-law told. I wish she had done that a little more with the hero. He was older and a bit on the domineering side and I feel she should have established some boundaries a bit more with him. I guess I have to take into consideration that she felt she was in a rock and a hard place. One part that really annoyed me was when Anton tells Nina she has to give up college. Oh, my blood pressure went through the roof on that. Because, why? His excuse is he wants her with him. It felt more like a 'my wife doesn't need school because I can take care of her and I want her dependent on me and at my beck and call' sort of thing. That attitude always gets my goat. Might not bother another reader at all, though.
So I think four stars is fair, because some things really worked for me:
*I love the blackmail marriage scenario! *Possessive/Jealous/Stalkerific heroes give me shivers in a good way! *The ending was great when they both lay their emotional cards on the table. That alone helped to bump this book up a notch when I was feeling a bit bored. *Although this is a fade to black book, I thought the sexual tension/chemistry parts were off the charts. *Good visuals of Greece, and the use of symbolism and allusions to Greek mythology to draw the contrast between Nina's redhead English looks and Anton's dark Greek looks worked for me. *The reveal on Nina's father's enmity towards Jason, her first beau, and what had gone on with her mother--classic vintage HP drama!
I forgot to add one thing I didn't like:
Anton calls Nina a bitch like four times near the beginning. Hard to describe the situation without spoilers, but I am not fond of verbal abuse, so it didn't work for me.
Overall, a good read. I'll add this to my keeper shelf, although I prefer Michelle Reid's newer books overall.
I recommend it to fans of forced marriage and intense, stalkerific heroes who are magnetic and signficantly older than the heroine. (less)
This was pretty good but not great. I liked Lee Wilkinson's descriptive writing. I felt like I was within the story, seeing everything in technicolor....moreThis was pretty good but not great. I liked Lee Wilkinson's descriptive writing. I felt like I was within the story, seeing everything in technicolor. I liked how I slowly saw more and more of Jared as a person. Although from the beginning, I could tell he was crazy about Perdita. I find a hero who is crazy in love a sure fire way to elevate a book to a higher level. Can't help it. It's my 'button'. In this case, this is the strong point of this book. Again, not that it's bad. I just felt that Perdita was a bit harder to identify with. I mean I can understand that she took a lot on faith from people who she thought were trustworthy, but she didn't listen to what her heart and gut was telling her about the man she loved, and she cost them three long years. That was like a pain in my gut. I hate wasted potential, you know? What I love is Jared still loved her so much, and waited for her. He could have moved on physically and emotionally, and who would blame him? But he doesn't. That makes me sigh.
So, yeah, I was a bit annoyed at Perdita, and even more, the person who engineered the destruction of her brief marriage to Jared. I have to take points off for that. But Jared, oh my darling, I add points for you.
So I end up with a 3.5/5.0 star book. *Sighs some more about Jared.*(less)
Dario and Alissa have both suffered in their lives. Dario lost all the family he ever had, and vowed to get back his family's property, which was swin...moreDario and Alissa have both suffered in their lives. Dario lost all the family he ever had, and vowed to get back his family's property, which was swindled away from his family. His complete focus was on becoming a powerful, rich man who no one crossed, living up to the Parisi name. Alissa strived to be dependent to no man, and to see that her younger sister was happy and well. These personal vows lead them to be absolutely driven in their lives. Their paths intersect through Alissa's grandfather, who wrote in his will that the only way that Dario could get back his property was by marrying Alissa. After years under the cruel yoke of her strict, abusive Sicilian grandfather, the last thing Alissa wanted was to marry another controlling Sicilian. Dario sees Alissa as poison, a drug-abusing, party girl who has squandered her inheritance, and is standing in the way of his lifetime goal of getting his family's castle back. So, he has no problem being ruthless to get her right where he wants her. He fouls up her chances of having a platonic marriage with her friend to meet the qualifications of her grandfather's will: six months living as a man's wife, and she inherits the castle, which she can sell to get money to pay for treatment for her younger sister's life-threatening illness. When she goes to the courthouse to meet her friend, she finds he has stood her up, and Dario is there to take his place. At this point, she has no further options but to agree to the marriage, even though they clearly hate and have no respect for each other. The six months of living together promises to be miserable. But, there is a powerful attraction between the enemies turned spouses. Dario believes the absolute worst about Alissa, yet he still wants her badly. Alissa counts herself as a fool to be attracted to the ruthless, powerful man she married. However, passion doesn't listen to logic. This was a very good story. It was intense and angsty, perhaps a little too angsty when I read it. I wanted to see more tender moments between Dario and Alissa. It seemed like that didn't start until the book was halfway over. We slowly see the walls come down between this couple, and they both fight it fiercely. I enjoyed this story, and I did feel the chemistry between Dario and Alissa. I would have liked it more if there was a quicker development of their love relationship, and a little less antagonism. But, if a reader wants a story where the couple really is enemies for most of the book, this would be a good book to read. As always, Miss West has delivered an enthralling story full of passion. So enthralling, that I ended up sleep-depriving myself the night before last to keep reading it. I was happy to see these two lonely, sad, heartsore people find their happy end together.
I enjoyed this book a lot. It was rich with depth and with characters that I was interested in reading about. Callie was tired of being trapped by soc...moreI enjoyed this book a lot. It was rich with depth and with characters that I was interested in reading about. Callie was tired of being trapped by society's expectations, and the box she'd been put into, and decided to claim some happiness for herself. I liked that Gabriel liked her for who she was. He was drawn to her, even though she didn't fit society's ideas of beauty. She became the one woman he couldn't resist, and it wasn't hard for me to believe that was the case as I read this story.
I think Ms. MacLean did a great job of writing this novel, that was recognizably full of honest and real emotions. Normally, I don't care for the Regency hoyden, who gallivants around town doing things that women just didn't do. But, this book wasn't quite like that. Callie was a woman of her times. But, she was a woman who was trying to claim some happiness for herself. She never felt anachronistic in her morals. She was just tired of trying to live up to others' expectations. So, despite this being a theme I'm far from fond of, I wasn't bothered by Callie's hijinks. I really liked and felt for Callie. Some readers complained about it constantly being repeated that she was plain and plump. I didn't really see that. I think that it was mentioned as much as necessary, especially considering that's the box that Callie had been put into. I felt for her, seeing how insensitive people were in their treatment of her. It felt authentic. Women are often treated in such a fashion, when they don't fit into the mode that society defines for them. If you're not married, don't have a man, or a boyfriend, then what's wrong with you? You must be flawed somehow. You have no purpose in life. Sadly, that's still the case.
This was a very sexy book. There are some pretty spicy scenes, and they are quite well-done. The chemistry between Gabriel and Callie felt authentic. I could see why they were attracted to each other, and why they fell for each other. Those love scenes really kept me on the edge as I read.
I liked Gabriel a lot. Although he was a rake, he showed himself to be fairly admirable in his behavior. There were some lines that he knew he shouldn't be crossing with Callie, but the way this book was written, you could see that he couldn't resist his feelings for Callie. I didn't find Gabriel especially tortured. But, I don't guess all heroes have to be. He did have some baggage with his mother running off and leaving him, and you could see how that affected him, making him afraid to give his heart to a woman. But, with Callie, it was natural for him. He couldn't hold that back from her.
I liked Nick, Benedick, and Juliana a lot. I hope that Ms. McLean writes stories for them as well.
Reading Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake was a very pleasant experience. It wasn't a particularly dark romance (which is my favorite), but it was nuanced and had an intensity between Callie and Gabriel that made it a fairly compelling read. I think Ms. MacLean is a very good writer, and it's clear she makes an effort to write a high quality historical romance that manages to entertain but also has an underlying message. She treats important elements of historical romance with respect, but writes a story that is fun, sensual, and engaging, and she earned my respect for doing so. She's definitely going on my to-read list.(less)
What does a man do when his lover leaves him, and he's never going to get over her? And one day she comes to his office, asking for his help? He makes...moreWhat does a man do when his lover leaves him, and he's never going to get over her? And one day she comes to his office, asking for his help? He makes an offer she can't refuse to get her back. That's what Gabe Piretti does in Mr. Strictly Business. As the saying goes, this story had me at hello.
This was a very good story about love, and how the external and internal influences can break up a couple that truly should have stayed together. Fortunately, the future is not set in stone, and if we really work for something that we long for, we'll get it. Gabe was willing to work to earn Catherine back. He might be a corporate raider, but he's a man with a heart, and he had a lot more sensitivity that he is given credit for. Catherine had her reasons for leaving him. Reasons that were valid and quite heartbreaking. What upset me in this story is that neither of them picked up on what was tearing them apart and acted on it, the first time around. There was some real tragedy in that. But the good news, is that this couple will be stronger than ever now.
Ms. Leclaire is a very good writer. Her romances are enticing and keep my interest. I like and admire her characters, and her stories have some life and poignancy to them. This book definitely shows her strengths as a writer.
There are a few elements and tropes that are somewhat predictable, if you're a keen reader of series romances. But, you probably shouldn't read these if that will bother you too much to enjoy this book. Having said that, I did have some heartburn over 'the evil that men do' apparent in this story.
Mr. Strictly Business has some emotional depth, despite it being a short read. I recommend it to readers of series romance. Overall rating: 4.5/5.0 stars.(less)