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REVIEW: Bartering Her Innocence by Trish Morey

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.

Bartering Her Innocence by Trish MoreyTina 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

Best regards,


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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. MrsJoseph
    Jan 24, 2013 @ 12:08:59

    WOW. Every time I think I can go back to HP…I see a review like this. Thanks for taking one for the team.

  2. carmen webster buxton
    Jan 24, 2013 @ 12:22:43

    “the heroines have gotten so spineless a new genus of invertebrates will have to be invented.”

    Loved that phrase! Maybe we should add TSTSU to the genre’s list of approved acronyms? Instead of Too Stupid To Live (TSTL), this would be for heroines who are Too Spineless to Stand Upright.

  3. Jane Lovering
    Jan 24, 2013 @ 12:43:28

    I read this (blame being in a hurry) as Battering Her Innocence. Having read the review, I feel this may be a more apt title.

  4. Darlene Marshall
    Jan 24, 2013 @ 12:45:20

    “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.”

    I adore that line. Thank you for this.

    He’s having a hissy fit ’cause she slapped him? Cripes, after what he said to her he’s lucky she didn’t offer him an on the spot orchiectomy!

  5. Little Red
    Jan 24, 2013 @ 13:01:54

    Based on your review, the D grade sounds too generous. I definitely will be avoiding this book.

  6. Fiona Warner
    Jan 24, 2013 @ 13:05:09

    @Jane Lovering:

    Battering Her Innocence.


    That’ll teach me to drink coffee in front of my computer.

  7. MrsJoseph
    Jan 24, 2013 @ 13:45:19

    @Jane Lovering:


    That is perfect.

  8. Janine
    Jan 24, 2013 @ 13:53:43

    @carmen webster buxton & @Darlene Marshall: That was a great line.

    Honestly, I’m scared of reading HPs and books like this one are the reason why. I know there are some good HPs — I’ve read some in the past — but I don’t want to have to wade through ridiculously antagonistic stories to find them.

  9. Iola
    Jan 24, 2013 @ 14:04:05

    I remember reading HPs with this plot line in the 1980’s, but I thought we’d moved on since then. Obviously not.

  10. Ros
    Jan 24, 2013 @ 14:05:53

    I have become much more cautious about which authors I’ll buy in the HP line in the last twelve months or so. It seems as though the editors have something of a split vision at the moment – a lot of the newer authors are writing and trying quite different things (some more successfully than others), but the older authors are regressing to this sort of trash.

  11. Faye
    Jan 24, 2013 @ 14:08:36

    @Jane Lovering:

    I thought the title was Bartending Her Innocence and got to the end of the review wondering why no one had mentioned cocktails.

  12. Spinster
    Jan 24, 2013 @ 14:09:14

    I blame all the HPs I read in high school for the fact that I didn’t read any romance for a good ten years after I left my old-fashioned sourthern roots behind and learned about feminism at that godless liberal yankee college.

  13. Lynne Connolly
    Jan 24, 2013 @ 14:11:05

    HP’s are really a curate’s egg of a line these days. They have some fantastic authors like Sarah Morgan, Caitlin Crews and Kate Hardy, and some really awful ones. There are others who are capable of putting out a good book, and then a not-so-good one. Then there’s Jennie Lucas and Lynne Graham. The new Kiss line is positively schizophrenic, but do take time to read “The One That Got Away” by Kelly Hunter. Ignore the balloons on the cover, the story is entirely balloonless.

  14. Janine
    Jan 24, 2013 @ 14:27:53

    @Lynne Connolly: The One that Got Away is a DA book club pick for February. See the sidebar for details.

  15. Lori S.
    Jan 24, 2013 @ 17:57:53

    Yeesh, this sounds horrible. I’m curious – what kept this out of F territory?

  16. Jane
    Jan 24, 2013 @ 17:59:16

    @Lori S.: Well, now I’m reserving F grades for books that shouldn’t be published. My standards are lowering?

  17. Lori
    Jan 24, 2013 @ 18:08:45

    Harlequin is so freaking bizarre. They publish some truly brilliant writers and have female positive/sex positive stories and then they throw shiz like this out there. I swear I read crap like this 30 years ago and it turned me off Harlequins for many, many years.

    And a freaking glass collection that the mother won’t sell but a daughter she will? Methinks someone is snorting the glass.

  18. Sunita
    Jan 24, 2013 @ 18:15:43

    @Lori: I think that Harlequin has always had this kind of variation. I can remember recoiling from horror from some HPs in the 70s and 80s even as I gobbled up others. But the ones I recoiled from were big sellers. I bet the same is true today.

  19. Ridley
    Jan 24, 2013 @ 23:04:31

    Well, the Trish Morey I read last month landed a couple entries on my bad sex writing tumblr, so I don’t think it’s you, Jane.

  20. Kate Hewitt
    Jan 25, 2013 @ 04:45:24

    And yet it’s the old school style HP-like books–generally, rejected manuscripts that have been self-published–that are burning up Kindle and other e-book bestseller lists. They’re popular, and as other people have said, there is a range within the Presents line for most every taste, whether you like old school or something a little different.

  21. Moriah Jovan
    Jan 25, 2013 @ 07:47:13

    I loved these books when I was a kid. They were THE BEST lessons in What Not To Do With Your Life. Also, they made me very grateful for my mom. Really, quite a palatable way to learn a few choice lessons.

  22. Mandy
    Jan 25, 2013 @ 10:38:53

    Maybe if she licked his boots enough, he would be able to see the reflection of her love shining through.

    Ugh, Harlequin. I like my romances to take me away from the misogyny.

  23. Shelley
    Jan 25, 2013 @ 18:05:39

    @Janine: FYI..there is a forum thread on Amazon discussing HP’s plots called “HP discussion. Good bad and in between.” and it does contain spoilers. This could be helpful for those who wish to read them but don’t want to wade through the crappy ones. Just appreciate the ones who do…like Jane! :O)

  24. Lauren Aasen
    Jan 28, 2013 @ 10:41:06

    This man sounds even worse than most of the other HP heroes – he literally ditched the pregnant heroine and called her a whore before breaking things off, and now he’s destroying her family to…what? Get back at her? Why?

    Someone like this is clearly nuts – why does she want a man like that to raise her kids?

    But this is romance, I guess, so the future isn’t all that important.

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