I haven't read many Harleys, but they've always been of the vintage 70s/80s variety with mean alpholes...moreWARNING: Some spoilers, but hey, it's a Harley.
I haven't read many Harleys, but they've always been of the vintage 70s/80s variety with mean alpholes (being Greek, optional) and a TSTL heroine.
This one... First, check out that cover. John DiSalvo who was everywhere in the 90s (pub date, 1999) and Cameron Diaz with a bad Photoshop dye job. Notice the tummy clutch. Yep, this one is all about the babies.
Ty Hunter works for Perseus, some kind of shadow mercenary company who contracts for the government. He's put in charge of protecting some doctor during an outbreak in the Amazonian jungle, but what he's really doing is investigating if this outbreak is really a bioterrorism attack by Black Dawn, a nasty terrorist organization.
Of course it turns out that the doctor, Catt Alborak, is the woman he loved and shagged and impregnated 10 years earlier, and who disappeared when she informed him of the pregnancy and he didn't act so overjoyed over the phone. Because at the same time he was on the phone, his superior was telling him about some big security detail opportunity to protect the president which you just can't pass up, man. What about your career?
So Catt gives the big mental F-You to Mr. Military Career and promptly miscarries, which provides alllll the wangsty angst of this little tome. The first 60 pages or so are all raging harpy accusations, wounded woobie feelz, and misunderstandings until the Doctor Hellbitch starts to thaw and all preoccupied with saving the Indian population in the village who are dying from the bioattack. Of course the chief's daughter is dying and pregnant, so Catt knocks herself out trying to save the baby that she lost.
Then drug overlords attack, kidnap H and h (who by that time is preggers again from one night of unprotection) so Ty is all Grrrr Protective of Mah Wumman but it's still up to some Amazonian guerrilla warrior chick called Inca who has magical powers, communicates telepathically with the hero, and has some kind of mystical jaguar guardian who materializes and rips out throats to save their sorry asses from the druglords' palace. Or something.
This one was really disappointing. I lost track of how many things were repeated, sometimes in the same paragraph. Very slight, no there there. The hero was so beta throughout, all emotions and at one point crying, and when does a Harley hero do the grovel before pg. 100? But there were some real lulzy lines, like:
OK, right up front, this is not a well-written book. I mean, it's Carole Mortimer, fer cryin' out loud. She was loud and proud in all of her inept di...moreOK, right up front, this is not a well-written book. I mean, it's Carole Mortimer, fer cryin' out loud. She was loud and proud in all of her inept dialogue tag glory but the alphadouche hero, the dimbulb heroine, and their WTF confusing motivations ramp this one up to 4 teary-eyed-from-laughter stars.
Seriously, this was me as I read this:
Templar is a model who has left her career behind in order to take care of her sister's newborn orphan (yes, mom died in childbirth). Templar doesn't know who the father is, but after some prompting by a friend to go through her sister's things, she finds a letter from "Alex Marcose." So she sends a letter. This letter is naturally vague, because otherwise all the misunderstandings would be resolved in 10 pages, right? So Leon Marcose, Alex's brother, shows up at her door, because Alex is dead too! He instantly jumps to the conclusion that Templar is the mother. Because she fears that if she says, "Uh, no, AUNT," then she'll never see the little bundle of joy again, she lets him think she's the mom. There are some double-edged lines that make him think she's a total slut who isn't even sure who the baby's real father is. Now I can't quite remember why/how it happens, but GETTING MARRIED is the solution to the problem. (So much of what happened was nonsensical, so your guess is as good as mine.)
Married life ain't so great, because this is just for convenience. Leon's a possessive asshole (have the Greek millionaires always been Harley heroes?) and launches those slut-shaming barbs every chance he gets. Templar is a total doormat who does the dumbest shit and then is surprised when her plots and lies all blow up in her face.
Finally, when these 2 are about to give into their "yearning needs" and I'm thinking "Hallelujah!" she fights and scratches her way out of bed because it would give everything away. *scratching my head* How so? Huh? What? Another confusing several pages for this relative newbie Harley reader. And then..... why of course! Because she's a VIRGIN!
The grovel scene turns alphole into grinning lovey-dovey hero, but... a douche is still a douche.
This was quite a disappointment. I'd heard some things about the Hampson Harleys - the Greek H with a grip of steel and usually on the very mean side....moreThis was quite a disappointment. I'd heard some things about the Hampson Harleys - the Greek H with a grip of steel and usually on the very mean side. I was getting ready for some true pagan douchebaggery. But alas, there was none to be had.
Not only does Andreas Manou never clutch at Shani's arm or hand in an attempt to tear muscle, break bone, or clamp off blood supply, but he clocks in at about a 3/10 on the Nasty Bastage scale. He's actually quite nice, and it's Shani who's the total indecisive twat who's giving him the runaround through the whole book.
As we find out, Shani's boozing surgeon dad botches an operation and in exchange for Andreas keeping mum about it (he's also a surgeon) he wants to marry Shani. Dad is only too happy to go along, and we assume he's clambers onto The Wagon as well, never to fall off. Shani immediately leaves Andreas after the marriage because she ain't having with any of it. FF 5 years and they're both stationed at some hospital in Cyprus. Shani wants an annulment (since there was no consummation) but she wants to marry Brian, an English boor of the highest order who fulfilled the douchenozzle requirement quite nicely. Andreas, being a Greek dude, says No but of course that won't keep him from getting all intimate with OW Lydia, whose mummy and daddy fund the hospital.
There's a whole lot of Nothing going on in Communication, but that's when Hampson backed up the Big Truck with the loud beeps and dropped a fuckton of travelogue filler on me. After 10 pages of Cypriot customs and archaeological site tours, my eyes began to cross and I stopped really caring. Of course Shani decides she loves him after an idyllic 2-week hands-off vacay, and an enforced stay at his villa for one night (with total off-screen sex). Naturally actions have consequences, so near the end there's an episode of physical (and emotional) trauma so they'll just have to try again *wink wink nudge nudge*
The h's accident was quite hilarious - going up to Andreas' villa in a snowstorm to get her bracelet before leaving for England, she trips over a hidden boulder (hidden?) and "within seconds she was hurtling down the side of the mountain." :D
Then, as Andreas informs us with an amazing amount of sobriety, "By some miracle I saw you in the headlights, there by the tree that had saved your life -- it had halted your fall." xD
The best part of the book. Really.
Long groveling scene by both ensues ("And the time when...", "At the party when you...") and at last, the final scene with a smooch and we're only assuming another Manou brat brewing in the oven.
Don't waste your time. The writing was rambling and aimless, as if the rough draft was published. Not to mention that this one could have been 50 pages, easy. I haven't given up on Hampson yet, but I'm plucky that way.(less)
My previous 2 Harlequin reads have been oldies from the 70s with the typical cold alpha rat-bastard and...moreWARNING: Review contains some gifs and spoilers
My previous 2 Harlequin reads have been oldies from the 70s with the typical cold alpha rat-bastard and naive innocent, so just a quick glance at the covers -
The Wilder Family: Healing hearts in Walnut River Life, Love & Family PAGING DR. DADDY... and THAT. COVER.
Oh, FFS. I was prepared for a rough ride - and having to brush my teeth at the end of every chapter.
So let's start: Courtney Albright has had a Hard Life™. Abandoned by her mother as a child, raised by a drunk father, knocked up by a guy who married her but then immediately escaped as soon as he could by joining the Army and then dying in Iraq. She has to deal with that "hero" image everyone Stateside has of him even though he was a complete scumbag and philanderer. So, a widow and pregnant, she's left on her own in Walnut River (her husband's hometown) but her in-laws won't have anything to do with her because they knew their son was a good-for-nothing so ergo, any woman having anything to do with him was no-account, too. So, Poor Courtney - scraping by running the gift shop in the local hospital, raising her daughter alone, and taking online classes. (No doubt a highly respected University of Phoenix degree.)
Life vs. Courtney: [image error]
So, are you on Courtney's side yet? If not, then you – yes, YOU - are a Heartless Bastard.
So on top of this Hard Life™, Courtney has a lone-car accident on an icy road, and her 6-year-old daughter Jane's face gets smooshed in. Now Courtney has Guilt, because she just wanted to take her daughter out for a special breakfast to celebrate Janey getting Student of the Year honors or somesuch. It was supposed to be a Special Treat, because she never has enough money to eat out. Now she has a broken arm, her daughter may be disfigured for life, and she has no car with no money to buy another one.
But the Wilder Family who runs the hospital loves their employees like a family, so Courtney's dilemma is on their radar. Good thing their brother David, a cosmetic surgeon out in L.A. just happened to be at a conference in the area and could drop in and work his magic!
David's a prodigal son who had his own issues with his dad, but now lives the soulless, empty life out in L.A. giving facelifts to the stars. Can these 2 damaged people find LURVE?
Since Courtney hasn't had any since she was impregnated with Janey (that rat-bastard husband of hers wouldn't touch her after he found out she was pregnant) and she's been too busy playing Supermom to look elsewhere, after 7 years of
...it's one glance and thoughts of "Dr. Hottie" rocking his lab coat, gazing at tight buns encased in designer jeans, blah blah blah.
But guess what. Sweet adorable little Janey and her smoking hot Mom will exactly fill the hole in Dr. David's heart, and you, Dear Reader, can fill in the rest from there.
Some Thoughts: After Carole Mortimer's adverbial diarrhea and seeing that regular abuse while flipping through other Harleys, I thought that was a standard requirement. Southwick doesn't use them. So, yay! BUT... We were treated to passages including "How are you?" "I'm fine." No. Just.... NO. And supposedly witty dialogue that was painfully unwitty. Eek. Her use of metaphors was also somewhat cringeworthy.
Since I haven't read many hardly any contemporary romances, the sex scene with condoms made me double-take. Considering my romance tastes are strictly historical and my only Harley reads were written in the public-health-awareness-free 1970s, it was a rather odd note. This was my first book with a condom sex scene, actually. Go me!
Some of the moments were just a little too precious - OK, I expected that. But the touching scene of Dr. David explaining to poor Janey that the damage to one side of her face was so much that he wouldn't be able to repair it enough so she could get her matching dimples back? OMG, disfigured for life! LIFE!!!
But the gag-worthy majority of this book was bearable by the unintentional hilarity of Courtney's Endless Pity Party:
Growing up she'd carried the label of the town drunk's daughter. She'd get glances that held everything from pity to distaste, as if she was not good enough, as if the disgrace of her family background was contagious or would rub off. It was a good thing she'd had school and work to keep her busy or she'd have had a lot of time to feel sorry for herself because no one would let their kids be her friend.
"My father was drinking himself to death and I stayed because he was family and I was obligated."
She hated happy because it didn't last and you somehow felt worse when it was gone.
If something looked too good to be true, Courtney had learned that it usually was. No one in her world had ever done something without expecting a return on the investment.
But Dr. Hawtness is fixing Janey's face gratis, honey. You won't even have to shell out a co-pay. Of course, he'll get something out of it. A family.
I'm sure my misgivings with this book are due to the Harley formula, but it was a decent read. I'm totally going to crib the review format from this a...moreI'm sure my misgivings with this book are due to the Harley formula, but it was a decent read. I'm totally going to crib the review format from this awesome lady (UPDATE: She's left Goodreads, sorry) because it's a neat and tidy way to review these neat and tidy books.
The Girl - Dove Grey is a British nanny who does a damn good job, thankyouverymuch. Somehow, despite working for the landed gentry and raising their brats, she has managed to stay pure and innocent. You would expect she would have gotten some unwanted attention from one of her rich employers who is used to getting whatever he wants, but I guess her halo of innocence protects her. Dove did seem to be somewhat of a cipher. Her main motivation that propelled the plot was doing Huge Generous Things for others, at the expense of herself.
The Guy - Marc Blais, an ex-Legionnaire now hauling in the big bucks as the main confidant and honorary brother of Sheikh Rahma, the richest guy in the (fictitious) Middle Eastern country of Neffe. He's tall. He's dark. He's got an awesome scar that serves as a mood barometer. He's easily angered and aggravated by Dove, but we all know why...
The Setup - Dove's daddy refuses to collect value added tax at his store and he now owes The Revenue Man a HUGE bill of back taxes. Mom is no help, because she's one of those dumbly faithful types who always leaves everything in the hands of the man. So it's up to Dove to come up with a ton of cash, and she takes on the daunting (but very lucrative) task of nanny to Sheikh Rahma's children, a job that has had quite the turnover in recent years, due in no small part to the presence of Marc Blais. "You must not fall in love with me!" he warns Dove. With the equivalent of "Ha! As IF!" hurled back at him, the plot is off and running, which involves touching scenes of Dove's nannydom, an assassination plot and coup from Rahma's scheming brother Zaid, and a midnight flight into the desert to keep the children from Zaid's assassins. Throw in a bumpy camel ride and a forced wedding ceremony and you've got some real trials and tribulations for our heroine.
The Good Stuff - Margaret Rome's writing is something else. And not in a bad way. She has a real OTT style that would work really well in a full-blown bodice-ripper epic, and I kept feeling like she was chomping at the bit against the constraints of the Harley formula. There were some real good lines in there that usually would bring on some eye-rolling, but I was eating it up with a spoon instead. The dialogue she puts in the mouths of her characters would never be heard in the real world - it's convoluted and melodramatic, but again.... YUM.
My Gripes - I wasn't "feeling it" between Marc and Dove, but I'm still enough of a newbie to the Harley formula that I'm not sure how much is shorthand that the reader needs to fill in because they always end at pg. 187. The final grovel seemed to come on fast, as well as Dove's "I love him!" revelation after 160 pages of utter hatred (with some moments of forced kissy-kissy which seemed to make her all weak). So my initial rating was going to be 3 stars, but I'll tack on an extra one because it was still a very enjoyable read.(less)
This book finally popped my Harlequin cherry - I've avoided these fluffy bon-bons for years but after reading this review, I had to experience Carole...moreThis book finally popped my Harlequin cherry - I've avoided these fluffy bon-bons for years but after reading this review, I had to experience Carole Mortimer's adverbial diarrhea for myself. Wow, I was not disappointed! Did that make it suck any less? Hell no! In fact, it made it suck even more! Passion from the Past was written in 1982; The Duke's Cinderella Bride is from 2009. The list of adverbs is identical, and the prose is unchanged. It appears that after getting published at the age of 18, she wasn't going to change that "winning formula" one iota, although after 30+ years her books still look like they're written by a teenager with no classes in "good writing" under her belt.
Honestly, I'm surprised at the lack of mention of the adverbial flood in any reviews of her books (not to mention that the 4-star reviews leave me gobsmacked). Even if I hadn't already gotten a "heads up" about the adverbs, it would only have taken a few pages to see how damn many of them there are. Their omnipresence is distracting. This is bad writing, incompetent writing - only the attempted scribblings of a 5-year-old with blunt crayon could be worse. I don't knock Carole on creativity, though! When she can't find a word in common use that suffices, she'll make up her own! I ended up making this book a project, highlighting each weird and odd variation of the word "said." It kept me sane! So here is a (very partial!) list, because I suffered, and you can too:
advised curtly supplied jerkily (she also opened doors and walked this way.... WTF???) tutted disapprovingly dismissed tersely put in tersely explained tersely enquired tersely prompted tersely demanded tersely probed sharply invited smoothly instructed briskly acknowledged eagerly acknowledged tersely flashed resentfully prompted tautly finished lamely admitted lamely added mockingly drawled mockingly dismissed scornfully dismissed scathingly (and those dismissals were on the same page) broke off, biting her bottom lip (again, twice on the same page, word for word) greeted jovially said tautly chuckled throatily added stiltedly retorted stiltedly drawled insultingly said dryly gasped shakingly accused desperately added conspiratorially echoed disbelievingly refused tightly reasoned dully cracked shrilly confirmed eagerly bit out savagely chuckled throatily (haven't I already mentioned that? Oh yes, I have!) ordered emotionlessly guessed dryly barked critically repeated coldly repeated harshly explained excitedly hissed vehemently purred confidently admitted heavily invited gruffly asked deeply (HUH???) groaned helplessly (and not during what you think - these characters groan a lot) groaned huskily acknowledged huskily agreed huskily confirmed huskily prompted huskily admitted huskily breathed huskily (I wanted to give these characters a damn cough drop) rasped harshly prompted harshly corrected gruffly ordered gruffly
Not to mention the endless parade of "[he/she] evaded/ground out/smiled/sneered/scorned/evaded/invented/confirmed/drawled/snapped/gasped/rasped/groaned/grimaced/pounced/excused/scoffed/corrected/mocked/commented/dismissed/instructed/choked/frowned"...blah blah blah ad nauseum.
And all within the very tight constraints of 188 pages.
The very elegant and simple "said" - with no modifiers - was done once. Exactly once. Come on, Carole, don't be afeared. You can say it.
I know I've focused on adverbs rather than plot because, Dear Reader, there ain't one. Like I said, this book reads like it was written by a teenager (and Mortimer was 22 at the time of publication). Laura, a 19 year old, is secretary in some firm. What this business actually DOES is never explained. She falls in love at first sight with junior partner Gideon Maitland, a widower. Lame-ass misunderstandings abound, involving the dead wife who is an apparent angel but turns out to have feet of clay. There's the "other woman" for a few pages, but nothing ever comes to much and stuff is wrapped up within a couple pages. Mortimer clearly chooses to invest all her creativity hitting the copy and paste keys to stick adverbs in long LONG conversations between characters rather than crafting any scenes of character development. Then she crams what pithy little plot she has managed to come up with in a few paragraphs. Perhaps it's due to my Harley virgin status and I'm not familiar with the Harley "formula" - but are they always this anemic on plot? The characters are how they are because she tells us so. Man, that's annoying. They were all very flat, very unsympathetic. I didn't like Gideon Maitland not because he was an alpha (or was supposed to be) but because he was BORING. They all were. The only thing keeping my interest was highlighting and tallying the adverbs.
Now I have spent way more time on this review than this lame little book deserves. Her popularity among readers leaves me speechless, she finished wonderingly.(less)