Dear Ms. Morey:
This book fits squarely into the Harlequin Presents paradigm. It features a wealthy man ruthlessly using his power and money to effectuate a result that suits him. The woman abases herself and enjoys it. Either this is a really terrible version of Harlequin Presents books or I have totally lost my taste for them. Lately it seems like the heroes have gotten more and more terrible and the heroines have gotten so spineless a new genus of invertebrates will have to be invented.
Tina lives with her father in Australia on a sheep farm. She receives a frantic call from her mother, Lily, who has gotten deep into debt due to a Murano glass addiction. No, Lily does not grind it up and snort it; but she does buy so much of it that she mortgages her house, has to let go of all her servants, and treats her one remaining domestic employee shabbily by only occasionally paying a wage because, after all, the domestic gets a roof over her head.
Tina is given a choice of prostituting herself to save her mother’s home or seeing her mother go homeless and her father lose his sheep farm. Of course, she suggests that her mother sell off the Murano glass to save herself and Tina’s father, but her mother rejects this and Tina does not bring it up again because selling one’s body for your feckless shithead mother is better than selling some pieces of glass, amirite?
The blackmailer is Luca who, after one night with Tina three years ago, sets out on a scheme to bankrupt the mother in order to bring Tina back into his sphere. But he’s not really entertaining an unhealthy obsession, after all, he had forgotten about Tina until her mother came to him for a loan.
She’d walked out on him once. Left the mark of her hand bright on his jaw and walked away, as if she’d been the one on high moral ground. At the time he’d let her go. Waved good riddance. The sex had been good but no woman was worth the angst of chasing her, no matter how good she was in bed.
He’d put her from his mind.
But then her mother had called him, asking for help with the mire of her finances, and he’d remembered the daughter and a night of sex with her that had ended way too prematurely
Doesn’t this all sound ridiculous? If so, it is. What kind of man spends a fortune to have some woman prostitute herself for a month of sex; particularly, when “he’d put her from his mind.” How humiliating must it be for him to have to pay a fortune and threaten ruination of one’s relative in order to sleep with him. I mean, she says she hates him and this delights him because then he can dump her and she can hate him even more. That’s a real line in this book.
“Hatred would make her submission all the more satisfying.
And then he would dump her and she could hate him even more.”
Why does he give two shits about some chick he had a one night stand with and insulted afterward? He decides for her refusal she deserves public humiliation because she slapped him and left him after he told her “ I was a chip off the old block. … I did my best work on my back!”
Why should I keep reading this? Why should I care? Tina should just tell her two shit head parents to jump in a lake. And for god’s sake, she’s not innocent. She’s had sex before. She’s even had a one night stand. Unless by innocent, we mean “never having blackmailed someone into bed.”
For all that she a) hasn’t seen Luka in 3 years 2) the last words he gave her were an insult calling her a whore and 3) that she got pregnant and lost the baby and 4) now he is making her into exactly what he called her three years ago she acts like a “wildcat” and “milks him for all he’s worth” and basically orgasms herself into passing out.
Of course, Luka realizes that the reason he has enacted this blackmail scheme is because he could never forget Tina and Tina has explosive orgasms despite being humiliated because she loves Luka so much. But alas, their love built on the shoals of blackmail and distrust suffer mishaps along the way as Luka accuses Tina of more terrible things and Tina hangs her head in shame. At least they are consistent in their characterization. I can fully realize their HEA with Luka constantly berating Tina for sucking the same oxygen as he is and Tina holding her breath whenever he is around to ensure that he truly understands how much she loves him. D