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Harlequin Lightning Reviews: January 2009 Edition

Tycoon’s Pregnant Mistress by Maya Banks.

037376920201lzzzzzzzI laughed a little when I finished this book because it had virtually all the common HP/SD tropes smushed into one small category. We have the secret baby, amnesia, asshole boyfriend with trust issues, evil other woman, and an abduction for added spice (plus the requisite travel to an exotic locale).

There is something kind of fun about a secret baby mistress abduction amnesia story but the melodrama level was a bit too high for me. Essentially the heroine is the mistress of a wealthy developer and she is unjustly accused of selling secrets to his competitor. She’s virtually tossed out of his home and then kidnapped. But once the kidnappers realize that there is no use for her, she is released unharmed. This stretched my credibility even for an HP. As a result of her trauma, she gets amnesia and her lover comes to take care of her and as a result learns that she could not have possibly sold secrets to his competitor. Of course, why he couldn’t have figured out that before, I’m not sure. C

This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or ebook format from the Sony Store and other etailers.

Antonides’ Forbidden Wife by Anne McAllister

037312792801lzzzzzzzTwo words: Asian Heroine. I’m giving this book a B just for that. This might be my new grading scale. Every book with an Asian heroine starts at a B grade from the beginning. Actually, I think I would have given this book a B even without my personal race bias.

PJ Antonides marries Ally (half Japanese) as a favor over 10 years ago and neither bothered to get a divorce. PJ kind of liked the excuse of being married. It was an easy way to fob off his family and other women even though no one was really sure whether to believe him. Ally decides she is going to marry this nice doctor and trots off to see the PJ to get her divorce, only PJ isn’t so sure that he wants this divorce. He tells Ally that he isn’t going to sign the papers unless she pretends to be his wife for an upcoming family reunion. This is a story of mini misunderstandings, unrequited feelings, misaligned stars, and PJ’s charming Greek family.

Note to Harlequin: just because the model has straight hair doesn’t make her Asian.

This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or ebook format from the Sony Store and other etailers.

Her Ruthless Italian Boss by Christine Hollis

037352707101lzzzzzzzI read this book with a look of wtfery on my face. I could feel it. My face was contorted for at least the first 20 pages, as I tried to figure out what the hell was going on with the characters. Beth met Luca  Francesco a few years ago when Luca was in the army. They were in love but Beth didn’t want to marry a soldier. Or maybe she didn’t want to marry someone poor. Or maybe she wanted to marry Luca but he turned her down. Luca is now one of the richest men in Europe, Beth has no money, and his heart was broken so much that he wants revenge or he doesn’t want revenge, he wants to court her, or something. Seriously, I had no idea what was going on in this story. The motivations of the character were more slippery than a wet fish. Beth was a doormat throughout much of what I read, first lamenting her monetary loss but then deriding any efforts to see to her comfort. Luca hates Beth for leaving him and vows something but also treats her like spun glass.

Ultimately I gave up because, well, it just didn’t make sense. DNF

This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or ebook format from the Sony Store and other etailers.

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. Jinni Black
    Jan 17, 2009 @ 12:24:44

    From For Her Pleasure erotica to Silhouette Desire. I don’t know if I can make that transition.

  2. Maddie
    Jan 17, 2009 @ 13:23:25

    Jinni, I love Maya Banks writing but this is not her voice, if some one gave you this book and ripped the cover off you would think that it is a first time author!!!!

    From what she wrote this was a dream of hers to write for Silhouette Desire, I’m happy that she achieved that dream but if it cost her her “voice” than I will have to pass.

    Jane is right the whole plot was “wtfery” with the kidnapping as soon as she tossed out on her but and no one on the street sees it, the hero does not think it’s strange that she gone for months?

    The clueless kidnappers who do not call but sends a letter instead. I juat hope the other two in this trig in better than this one.

  3. GrowlyCub
    Jan 17, 2009 @ 15:26:32

    I wondered how Maya Banks would translate to SD. Thanks for the review.

    Oh, the author on the Antonides book is ‘McAllister’. She one of my favorite category authors (although I prefer her SDs about the cowboys :).

  4. Sayuri
    Jan 17, 2009 @ 15:36:23

    Aww, I really enjoyed Maya Banks title. I really like her ‘vanilla’ romance voice.

    It did have an awful lot packed into it, but it didn’t seem to trip my WTF? meter. The hero gave great ‘grovel’ at the end. I thought it was one of the better SD’s I ‘ve read. I’m not really a fan of that line.

  5. Janine
    Jan 17, 2009 @ 16:31:28

    I don’t know what it says about me, but the secret baby-amnesia-marriage of convenience one sounds really appealing!

  6. Janine
    Jan 17, 2009 @ 16:34:07

    Two words: Asian Heroine. I'm giving this book a B just for that. This might be my new grading scale. Every book with an Asian heroine starts at a B grade from the beginning.

    I have the same impulse sometimes about books with Jewish heroes or heroines.

  7. Maya
    Jan 17, 2009 @ 16:41:29


    Have you read “Best of Both Worlds” by Elissa Ambrose? Jewish heroine. I loved this book. Love, love, loved it. It’s a Silhouette Special Edition from 2004 I believe.

  8. Meljean
    Jan 17, 2009 @ 16:57:11

    @Janine: I don’t know what it says about me, either, but I want it, too :-D

    Also, Ruth Wind had a Jewish/Muslim hero in her SSE Light of Day (I think that’s the title). I remember it particularly because it was the first I’d seen in a category … actually, maybe any romance.

    Ah, Rosario did a review of it here.

  9. Janine
    Jan 17, 2009 @ 17:07:22

    Thanks, Maya and Meljean!

  10. Maddie
    Jan 17, 2009 @ 18:32:19

    Hey just wanted to add that Maya Banks is an auto buy for me I loved her Into the Mist series and her Berkley Heat esp Sweet Surrender (freakin HOOOTTTT and very well written ) but I have to say that I hate the cover that they gave her for her debut the guy is way too pink to be Greek LOL but that is Harl. and Silh. for you.

    The hero/h never matches the cover L Graham heroine are always on the plush/lush curve wise and the cover is always some skinny chick with small boobs.
    Author Susan Napier’s book Another Time has an Asian heroine and on the cover she is Asian which I liked (was a good read too.

  11. Maya
    Jan 17, 2009 @ 19:47:15

    ah man, and I thought the cover was apt to be its most redeeming quality! I was sooo thrilled that the hero didn’t have that bizarre deer in the headlight look that a lot of Desire cover heroes have had. Im seriously thinking of asking if all my heroes can be quartering away for the cover *g*

  12. Raquel
    Jan 17, 2009 @ 20:01:44

    I’ve read another Asian heroine in Jackie Braun’s “The Businessman’s Bride”.
    She’s half Japanese and she goes to Japan to find her birth mother.

    She does look like Japanese-American, though what she’s wearing is a Chinese dress. But I found that the author did her research well and the description of the trip was quite accurate. And good read, too. (She goes to Hokkaido.)
    I’m a Japanese myself and appreciate the Asian heroines, only if the author did it right. I’ve once read a book so laughingly wrong beyond irritating.
    (The English? heroine was staying in Japan and met with the hero on special marriage date, ‘Omiai’. She was told that once they met, they must marry and she had no right to refuse him. Her Japanese friend dresses her up in kimono and paint her face like ‘geisya’ or ‘Oiran’.
    Well, I wouldn’t have mind it if the setting was medieval or even in the 1940’s. And we would never dress up like a courtesan to meet our future husband. Lol)

  13. Sayuri
    Jan 17, 2009 @ 20:18:30

    @ Maya

    I was sooo thrilled that the hero didn't have that bizarre deer in the headlight look that a lot of Desire cover heroes have had. Im seriously thinking of asking if all my heroes can be quartering away for the cover *g*

    I totally agree. I think it’s a great cover for a SD. At least the hero is looking at the herione. You could say he might even like her. (shock! horror!) On some of the SD covers, I wonder even that. The heroes usually look so dissmissive and arrogant. Like they would rather be anywhere else but there, with their heroine draped all over them gazing longingly at them. Urghh!

  14. Zoe Archer
    Jan 17, 2009 @ 23:29:50

    I have the same impulse sometimes about books with Jewish heroes or heroines.

    Does such a thing exist that isn’t of the chick lit variety? If so, please dish. I’m on shpilkes here!

  15. Diana Peterfreund
    Jan 18, 2009 @ 11:36:54

    I think the heroine in The Boss and Miss Baxter (SSE) is Jewish? I hope I’m not remembering that wrong.

    Also, most Judith Arnold characters…

  16. Laura
    Jan 18, 2009 @ 11:53:14

    @Zoe Archer: Have you read Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe? While she doesn’t get the hero in the end, Rebecca of York is truly the heroine of the story.

  17. Janine
    Jan 18, 2009 @ 13:53:55

    Does such a thing exist that isn't of the chick lit variety? If so, please dish. I'm on shpilkes here!

    Let’s see…

    Barabara Samuel has a wonderful medieval romance set in Germany called Bed of Spices, which has a Jewish hero and a German heroine, with the backdrop of the plague and the resulting anti-semitism.

    One of my all-time favorite contemporary romantic suspense books, set in New Orleans before Katrina, Meagan McKinney’s A Man to Slay Dragons, has a Jewish heroine. Awesome book — I love it to bits.

    Dirty by Megan Hart, another great book IMO, has a Jewish hero.

    It’s kind of a spoiler for this book, but the hero of Patricia Gaffney’s Crooked Hearts, which is about two con artists in 19th century San Francisco, is a lapsed Jew. I enjoyed this book, though it isn’t up there with Gaffney’s best (To Have and to Hold and Wild at Heart).

    Fallen from Grace by Laura Leone, about an author who falls in love with her neighbor who happens to be a male prostitute, has a Jewish heroine. This one is set in contemporary San Francisco. Not a perfect book, but one I enjoyed a lot nonetheless.

    A lot of people love Eva Ibbotson’s The Morning Gift, but I would only rate it a B or so, though I’m a huge Ibbotson fan. This one is set in Austria and England during World War II. The heroine is half-Jewish. The British hero is a family friend who marries her in order to get her out of Austria so she can escape the Nazis. I love Ibbotson but I thought this book was a little too light for its subject matter.

    That’s it for the ones I have read. I’ve heard that Liz Carlyle’s recent book, Never Deceive a Duke, has a Jewish hero. And Nita Abrams has a series of historicals with Jewish spies. I have heard great things about them, but haven’t read them yet.

  18. K. Z. Snow
    Jan 18, 2009 @ 16:18:08

    If y’all don’t mind ebooks too much, one of my EC novels features a Jewish vampire hero (yes, you read that right — and crosses don’t figure into the plot). Fellow e-author Jeanne Barrack has a slew of Jewish heroes in her m/m stories, one of which can be found in the I Do charity anthology (published by MLR Press, with all proceeds going to the Lambda Legal Defense Fund to fight for marriage equality). I know there are other e-authors with Jewish characters and storylines; just can’t remember them all at the moment.

  19. Zoe Archer
    Jan 18, 2009 @ 17:35:14

    @K. Z. Snow: Jewish vampire! That’s the most awesome thing ever! Definitely not afraid of any crucifix.

    @Janine: I read Crooked Hearts years ago, but I love con artists (cf. my current “literary novel” written under my real name, Ami Silber; the protagonist of which is both Jewish and a con artists–but definitely not a mensch). I’ll have to reread this one, if I can find it. I did read a few Nita Abrams, though they were not quite my cup of Maneschewitz. :) I’ve been hearing good things about Megan Hart, and the idea of a Jewish hero in an erotic romance sounds fantastic.

    @Laura: Haven’t read any Scott (I’m woefully derelict in my 19th century reading), but I’m always curious about representations of Jews in historicals. Shout out to Carrie Lofty, who has an adorable young Jew in Sherwood Forest and who later goes on to Medieval Spain. Yay, historical Jews!

    My upcoming series for Kensington has lots of multiculturalism (a Canadian Indian hero, an African-Anglo hero), but I’m hoping that if the series continues, fingers crossed, to have a Jewish hero or heroine. Gotta represent the lantsleit!

  20. Hilcia
    Jan 19, 2009 @ 11:08:05

    I used to be a HR reader — however, just the TITLES alone are a turn off for me. I wonder what happened? Why all the titles from Harlequin sound like something out of a bad B movie? I don’t even bother with them any longer.

  21. Emma Petersen
    Jan 20, 2009 @ 04:02:42

    Finished Maya’s The Tycoon’s Pregnant Mistress tonight and loved, loved, loved, LOVED IT!

  22. Sherry Thomas
    Jan 20, 2009 @ 20:52:28

    A half-Asian person could look like anything. My half-Chinese son looks Latino–and his father isn’t. :-)

  23. REVIEW: The Concubine by Jade Lee | Dear Author: Romance Novel Reviews, Industry News, and Commentary
    Jan 23, 2009 @ 15:00:23

    […] Jane, I’m biased towards books featuring Asian heroines.  So imagine how excited I was to discover a book that not only featured an Asian heroine but an […]

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