Dear Ms. Betts:
I have been gaining newfound respect for category authors of late and when I saw that your book, Fortune’s Forbidden Woman, was selling like hotcakes I thought I better see what the fuss was about. After all, Keishon had very good luck with buying one of the e-Harlequin bestselling titles’ Billionaire’s Bidding by Barbara Dunlop. I had determined, prior to reading this book, that perhaps the cringe-worthy titles of the Harlequin/Silhouette Categories were the only thing that were bad about these books. Alas, Fortune’s Forbidden Women is one of those stereotypical romances that give fodder to its critics and provide no footing for its supporters. In fact, my head hurts from all the desk banging that went on during the reading of this book. (I had to give up throwing my e-reader around whenever I was unhappy with a book).
Maya Blackstone is a 25 year old virgin who has been dating a very nice young man for over a year. While she sometimes has some physical feelings toward Brad and actually leads him to believe that he is going to get lucky, she finds that she cannot bring herself to actually consummate their relationship. In fact, she becomes quite fearful and panicky when the two of them become close hinting at some type of terrible sexual experience in her early years.
Her stomach clenched, but not with desire. Nerves flared to life in her bloodstream, her muscles growing tense, her breathing growing labored as panic set in.
Since the origin of her sexual dysfunction is revealed in the first chapter, I don’t think it is much of a spoiler to talk about it here. After your lead up, what do I find to be the cause of her intimacy problems? Her fear? Her panic? Well, apparently, her stepbrother caught her in the arms of some teen punk and lashed out at her, calling her a slut. And this is the reason that she cannot be intimate with her boyfriend of over 1 year and why, at the age of 25, she is still a virgin.
"This is all your fault. You've ruined my chances of ever having a normal relationship with a man, ever sleeping with a man. You blamed a seventeen-year-old girl for being attacked by her boyfriend and called me a slut. You're the reason I can't have a normal relationship, and I hate you for that!–?
Seriously. The heroine sounds like she is still 17. Melodramatic and immature. Creed isn’t much better.
Creed Fortune has had the hots for his stepsister since before it was really age appropriate and he doesn’t believe it is appropriate now. So of course, he treats her like crap because he cannot give in to his FORBIDDEN feelings. You really made sure that I understood that he believed it was forbidden and because it was forbidden, he immediately goes over to Maya’s house and impales her with his FORBIDDEN stick which she completely welcomes despite her previous panic attacks at being intimate. And then he leaves her with this classic line:
"Why would I stay? Now that I've gotten you out of my system, I can leave you alone. Get on with my life.”
While ostensibly Maya is all hurt by Creed’s callous attitude, it doesn’t stop her from dropping her drawers whenever he snaps his fingers. Further, Maya doesn’t have decency to let Brad know that she is playing the bonefish grill with Creed, several times. In fact, Brad conveniently disappears for the remainder of the book until Maya, at the end, gives him his walking papers without telling him that she had been cheating on him non stop since the aborted attempt to make love.
She'd been dating Brad for nearly a year, growing closer by the week. She even thought they might have eventually ended up walking down the aisle. Even so, when it came to moving past first or second base, she'd kept him at arm's length.
But the minute Creed looked at her with so much as a hint of passion in his shadowy blue eyes, she'd fallen into bed with him faster than he could say "pretty please.–?
There is some character arc for Maya that doesn’t include being a sneak and a cheater and that is that she never felt comfortable being part of the Fortune family even though her mother was the love of papa Fortune’s life. The external plot force was that Maya’s mother disappeared 3 weeks before and hasn’t been seen since. I found this to be lacking in authenticity since Maya seemed fairly unconcerned about it.
Creed is given the main characteristics of the romance alpha male. He’s rich and full of angst over his FORBIDDEN love. And that was about it. His big character arc was getting over the idea that this love was FORBIDDEN because after all, as many characters tell him, the two have no BLOOD connection despite being raised as brother and sister and so this is no FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC.
All the previous couples in the series make an appearance in different stages of pregnancy because love is fertility, baby. I am sure that you are a better writer than what is in this book, but I could not find one positive to thing to say about it. D.