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Sara Craven

REVIEW: Not the Marrying Man by Miranda Lee & REVIEW:  The Highest Stakes of All by Sara Craven

REVIEW: Not the Marrying Man by Miranda Lee & REVIEW: ...

Dear Ms. Lee:

I was intrigued by this book because seton mentioned how much she liked in over at the Amazon thread “How about HPs’ that you like“. Seton is correct that this is a bit fresher take on the mistress/bazillionaire trope. The one drawback is that I thought the writing was kind of rough in places and I’m not quite sure how to demonstrate that.

Not a Marrying Man by  Miranda LeeThe story starts out with a young woman, Amber, writing in her diary about the imminent arrival of Warwick Kincaid, the new owner of the hotel where she works. Her first entry reflects exasperation with the furor the ownership change has created in the staff but subsequent entries show a changing mindset until Amber is swept away into Warwick’s life, as his mistress. Amber seemed much younger than 25 at times. She knows that being with Warwick is bad for her, that it offends everything that she thought she believed in, but she cannot bring herself to leave him.

Warwick treats Amber pretty poorly but you make us feel sorry for both of them by showing that Warwick’s actions make himself miserable. He’s just as much a victim to their lust/love/whatever as she is. Whether this bitter self hatred of his own actions is palatable will depend on the reader. Having read so many worse “heroes” in other books (see below), Warwick registered only as mildly assholic, particularly because after the first couple of scenes, we see that Amber has him wrapped around her finger (although she isn’t aware of it yet). Warwick tries to treat Amber poorly because he actually does love her. He wants her to break up with him and be happy to shake the dust of Warwick off her feet. But because he loves her and is weak, he also doesn’t want to leave her so he is constantly sending out mixed signals.

When Amber starts finding her nerve and bossing Warwick around, I started to really enjoy the story and certainly felt satisfied at the end. I still felt that the use of the diary and the way in which Amber talked and thought seemed too young for the story being told. C+

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Dear Ms. Craven:

This book features one of the stupidest heroines of all of time. Joanna’s father has a gambling problem and so he gets his 19 year old daughter to dress like a slut to distract other card players. Joanna feels helpless but she does it because she loves her father. It’s not like she doesn’t have options though. Her uncle owns some kind of manufacturing firm but oh no, that might require her to take secretarial courses. She churns internally with shame over how her father uses her but he loves her and so she must save him. By acting like a slut. Okay.

The Highest Stakes of All  by 	Sara Craven He displays this fatherly love by pretending she is his hot young piece on the side. All together, “ewwww”. One night in Australia, they fleece some young man and she plays a part by letting the young man feel her up in the gardens. Joanna feels awful about this but because she didn’t want the man to feel her up, she is innocent and should be absolved of wrongdoing. No matter what her father tells this young man. She extracts a promise from her father that he’ll never use her in such a way again, but alas, she is pressed to do her duty a year later when the young lamb’s protector comes after them.

Joanna’s affronted that Vassos Gordanis treats her like she is some tart at poker games who is someone’s fancy piece. Because I guess he should see inside her and recognize her shame. Thankfully she is a virgin so she can prove that she is no one’s fancy piece, just an idiot who allowed herself to be used over and over again. D

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REVIEW:  The Innocent’s Surrender by Sara Craven

REVIEW: The Innocent’s Surrender by Sara Craven

Dear Ms. Craven:

Cover Image of Sara CravenI was very excited to see that you had a new release out. You are one of my favorite Harlequin Presents authors. Sure, you have some rape books in your past, but this is 2010, and those are a thing of the past, right? Apparently not. The Innocent’s Surrender started out innocuously. The heroine, Natasha Kirby, is summoned to meet with her foster brothers regarding the failing family business. Her brothers want her to promise to marry Alex Mandrakis, their chief rival. The promise will somehow allow her family to gain enough time and confidence with bankers to allow them to gain financing to support the efforts to revitalize the family business.

While Natasha initially resists, she is assured that it is just a verbal promise and that Alex, a pursued bachelor, would not even be interested in her proposal. She signs the agreement and returns to London thinking nothing more of the situation.

Natasha is summoned yet again and when she arrives in Athens, she is whisked away by a car service. Natasha believes she is headed to her brothers’ homes but instead she is taken to a stranger’s home and marched into his bedroom. There she finds Alex Mandrakis, nude from the waist up, in bed and covered only by a sheet. He orders her to strip and get in bed with him. Apparently another letter was sent, ostensibly by Natasha, filled with lewd suggestions of what she can do for Alex and he wants her to fulfill those promises.

Natasha refuses. She attempts to leave and finds the door locked. She contemplates climbing through a bathroom window. Alex warns her that his guards will only bring her back to his room if she manages to escape. The only way out, according to Alex, is to have sex with him. She begs him to allow her to leave, debasing herself. He is unmoved. Natasha is left with little option. To worsen the matter, Natasha was dating someone and she realizes that this event will negatively impact her relationship with the man in her life.

UP TO that moment Natasha had only really thought about the outrage to her feelings, and the nightmare effect on her life of this unbearable, shameful indignity that was being inflicted on her. It had not occurred to her that her first experience of sex might cause her actual physical pain.

Her taut muscles shocked into resistance, she wanted to cry out to him that he was hurting her, and beg him to stop. To give her unaccustomed body at least a little time to adjust to the stark reality of his penetration of her.

Yet she did nothing, said nothing, determined not to grant him the satisfaction of knowing that anything he did could affect her in any way-’pleasure or pain

Despite this event, Alex never really apologizes or acknowledges that he has essentially raped Natasha and she herself does not treat this as rape. Alex excuses himself by telling Natasha that he wanted her badly. Alex does treat Natasha better after this incident and somehow Natasha finds herself in love with him, but she believes Alex only sees her as a whore, a prostitute and not someone worthy of making his partner.

I think if that scene had been omitted, I would have enjoyed this story but I found the rape to be offensive particularly when it was, at best, excused, and at worst, unacknowledged. F

Best regards

Jane
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