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REVIEW: An Heir for the Millionaire by Julia James and...

Dear Authors:

This two book collection is bound together on the basis that both heroes are named Xander. When I first read the introduction, I thought this was a RIDICULOUS idea and in fact, had written that down in my pre-review notes. How would I keep these men apart? Wouldn’t the characteristics of Xander One bleed into Xander Two when I was reading the second book? Who thought of this??!!??

An Heir for the Millionaire  by Carole Mortimer and Julia JamesSuffice to say I was wrong and that I not only enjoyed the tales of the two Xanders but recommended it, although primarily to those who like HPs in the first place because these two books aren’t particularly subversive like say The Bellini Bride by Michelle Reid, but entertaining. After all, I did get two books for the price of one.

The Greek and the Single Mom by Julia James

Clare once lived a very glamorous life full of expensive clothes, frequent travel, and a luxurious life. Circumstances, however, reduced her to waitressing parttime in addition to a fulltime job to provide money for her son and the older woman who had become part of Clare’s family. But her circumstances, though reduced, were better than being the discarded mistress of a heartless Greek tycoon.

Four years earlier, Clare was temping and one look from Xander Anaketos felled her. She went to dinner with him and then to his bed and became his mistress. She knew from the start that she should guard her heart but as time went on and Xander still returned to her bed, night after night, she began to think that maybe, just maybe, their relationship was different. Sadly, Clare was fooling herself. While she was dreaming of a happy ever after, Xander was falling for someone else. He returns from a business trip, takes her out to their place at St. John’s hotel and tells her it is over. Clare gets up and walks away and disappears from Xander’s life like a puff of smoke.

In the catalogue of HP stories, the mistress one appeals to me, primarily because these women get involved in a purely sexual relationship (although often this is their first). A mistress often plays the reviled woman and to see the mistress elevated as the female protagonist in a romance novel is enjoyable.

There is high drama in this book, from the scene in the restaurant where Clare is given her walking papers in the form of a diamond necklace to the discovery by Xander of his son. I wavered between agony for Clare, hurt for Xander that he had missed so many years with his son, and disgust at the way he treated Clare. I liked that Clare threw his actions back in his face,

"You're not real,' she said. Her voice had changed. "You're just not real. You actually think I would tell a man who'd chucked me on the garbage pile, who'd paid me off with a diamond necklace, that I was pregnant by him?’

Xander spent his whole life disengaging himself from attachments. He changed his watches, his cars, his yachts, and his women. Clare was his one exception and when he found himself getting too attached, he ruthlessly severed their connection.

The story is compressed and thus, the emotions move quickly from anger and resentment toward lust and something else; however, because the two had a prior relationship, it was believable. The Greek and the Single Mom delivers a lot of emotion in a short time. B

The Millionaire’s Contract Bride by Carole Mortimer

Xander Fraser has a problem. His wife has died and he is left with a six year old daughter. His wife’s father is making noise about challenging Xander for custody.

Casey Bridges is a single mom with a six year old son who lives on the edge of the Fraser estate. They are tied together because Casey’s husband ran off with Xander’s wife and then both died in a jet crash. Xander proposes that the two of them marry so that Casey can provide a better life for her son and Xander can keep custody of his daughter. At first, Casey objects because they don’t love each other but Xander points out how their previous marriages weren’t based on love and this business based proposition is at least more honest:

"How about marrying someone you actually love?'

He gave her a pitying glance. "Don't tell me, after seven years of marriage to a man like Sam Bridges, that you still believe in the love myth? Any more than I do after seven years of marriage to Chloe?'

Ah, a marriage of convenience story. Love. Unfortunately, because of the shortened circumstances, I believed less in the love between Casey and Xander. I felt like that they could have learned to love each other over time, but not in the time frame presented. Both had underwent horrible marriages to unfaithful people and you would think that would have marked them more.

This was more frothy and less emotional than The Greek and the Single Mom so the two together made a nice collection but the marriage of convenience story lacked the believability and verve of the first. C+

Best regards,

Jane

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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She 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

16 Comments

  1. Ros
    Aug 14, 2010 @ 10:18:56

    Ha – I had exactly the same reaction to the idea of a collection based on heroes with the same name! Totally ludicrous. But maybe I’ll give this one a go.

    ReplyReply

  2. tricia
    Aug 14, 2010 @ 11:17:07

    Ah, Jane. I love the way you review a book.

    A mistress often plays the reviled woman and to see the mistress elevated as the female protagonist in a romance novel is enjoyable.

    I like it too. A wife has a kind of power in a relationship that a mistress just doesn’t get to have, although the gf might have other powers that the wife can’t access. I love to see the effects of living with that lack of control in a protagonist, even if she’s gotten her autonomy back like Clare has when this story opens. On my list! Thanks, Jane.

    ReplyReply

  3. Meljean
    Aug 14, 2010 @ 11:46:00

    Ah, my sweet sweet HPs. You sold me at “RIDICULOUS”.

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  4. Ridley
    Aug 14, 2010 @ 12:23:40

    So I saw the premise and was thinking, “Xander? That’s ridiculous! Who the hell is named…oh, wait, my MIL calls my park ranger BIL Alex, Xander. I guess it’s not that strange.”

    I’ll have to grab this. Nothing like a standard HP when insomnia hits. Just the perfect length and emotional involvement to relax the brain.

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  5. Sarah
    Aug 14, 2010 @ 12:31:03

    Totally sold me here because this is the very reason I enjoy so many HP. Buying! The first story in particular sounds good and I’ve enjoyed some of James’ previous HP titles.

    ReplyReply

  6. Sarah
    Aug 14, 2010 @ 12:32:19

    Yeah, my comment went totally askew but I agree totally with the atypical role the mistress plays in HP and I like the stories for that reason.

    ReplyReply

  7. Lindsey
    Aug 14, 2010 @ 12:47:18

    I’ll probably get this. I love me some HP, they’re great for a quick read. I especially like the sound of the first story, though I’ll certainly enjoy the second as well, since marriage of convenience is one of my favorite tropes.

    ReplyReply

  8. vanessa jaey
    Aug 14, 2010 @ 16:27:36

    I saw this one and had the smae head-scratching reaction you did, but I think I’ll pick this one up next time I’m in the bookstore.

    ReplyReply

  9. Holly
    Aug 16, 2010 @ 19:18:58

    Based on the recommend I downloaded this to my ereader. I just finished The Greek and the Single Mom by Julia James. I just gotta ask…what the heck were you smoking when you gave this a B? Please tell me you were feeling maudlin and had polished off a bottle of wine before you read this. Shaking head in dismay.

    I finished the story and only because I paid a LOT of money for my ereader did I not chuck it at the wall. OMG!!! Just OMG.

    *Possible* Spoiler ahead. But then this is often an HP kind of plot device so maybe it isn’t a spoiler.

    The guy feels like he’s the aggrieved party all the way through? Exsqueeze me? He was the ultimate in asshat angry boner men and it didn’t take me long to figure that out. His reaction to finding out about his son was…poor. She’s vindictive? Say what?

    You know, your review appealed to me because you talked about a fiesty heroine with a spine. Yeah, she had one…right up until the end of the story. Then it appears to have been surgically removed when both she, and I, were not looking.

    Near the end of the story the guy commits a calculated, manipulative act with despicable intentions. And the heroine, once he tells her what he did, thanks him for having committed it instead of properly hunting for a spoon with which to dig out his heart (assuming he has one) – cause you use a spoon to make it hurt more. (Alan Rickman/Robin Hood reference). She THANKS him!! Is she an idiot? A masochist? You know she can’t be a masochist because I read BDSM and even masochists aren’t THAT masochistic. OMG. Again.

    Now the writing is top notch otherwise I would not be THIS pissed at Miss James and at you for leading me astray with this review. I really LIKED the heroine but the end did not work for me on more levels than I can possible say. The change of heart by both characters didn’t work and his long monologue didn’t work. I longed for her to get a little Eliza Doolittle with it and scream “Words! Words! Words! I’m so sick of words!”

    sigh. Now, I’m afraid to read the OTHER Xander story. But since you didn’t like that one – maybe I will. Here’s hoping…

    ReplyReply

  10. Jane
    Aug 17, 2010 @ 05:45:46

    @Holly Yes, Xander was unreasonable and felt aggrieved and I did feel for him. I can’t imagine the pain of being separated from my child for the first four years of her life. That would be horrible and give rise to some pretty terrible feelings. And his later actions, to bind the heroine to him, was also unpalatable, but I thought it was balanced by the heroine’s stance that he had tossed her out like so much garbage and he didn’t deserve to feel victimized.

    I didn’t think that she thanked him, but that was the climactic event that shook loose their feelings. Again, the time frame is very compressed here and the story would have benefited from a longer denouement. For me, though, I thought the high drama and agnst with a decent heroine was worthy of a decent grade.

    Thanks for your opinions, though! I always enjoy reading other people’s thoughts about books.

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  11. Holly
    Aug 17, 2010 @ 11:00:30

    Well, I ventured into the second story and liked that one MUCH better. I bought the falling in love even over the shorter period of time. I felt much better before I went to bed last night.

    Jane, I can kind of get where he would be upset that he didn’t know he had a child but I was Team Clare all the way through. I mean, if a guy dumps you (and he’s a rich Greek guy in a HP romance) and THEN she would have told him – oh by the way, I’m preggers. He would have viewed that as a vindictive act too. A way of desperately trying to keep him and maybe even a trick by her to stay in the money. So poor Clare was damned if she told him and damned if she didn’t. And yeah, she THANKED him after he came clean about what he did and WHY he did it. I’m afraid that was one of the things that ticked me off the most.

    Anyway, thanks for the response, Jane. Happy reading.

    ReplyReply

  12. Jane
    Aug 17, 2010 @ 11:15:52

    @Holly: I’m glad that you liked the second one better! Hopefully I won’t lead you astray too many times.

    ReplyReply

  13. DS
    Aug 17, 2010 @ 17:12:40

    One thing that really annoys me about these titles is the repeated use of the word “mistress”. That is not a word I would ever use to refer to anyone’s relationship with any other person. It sounds archaic. Archaic as in 50′s movies where the man is always married so mistress is contrasted with wife.

    I actually looked the word up to see if there had been some change in meaning that I was not aware of while I was not reading Harlequin Romances. But even the free Merriam Webster has “4 a : a woman other than his wife with whom a married man has a continuing sexual relationship” as the fourth definition. There’s also some feeling that the man is providing some material support.

    If I pick up a book with “mistress” in the title, it will probably be about a female teacher.

    Ok, that’s my rant for the day.

    ReplyReply

  14. Wednesday Midday Links: Kristan Higgins’ All I Ever Wanted Digital Edition Makes Bestseller List | Dear Author
    Aug 18, 2010 @ 13:52:55

    [...] Guardian looks at book recommendations gone awry which reminded me of Holly’s unhappiness with my recommendation of An Heir for the Millionaire.  I admit that it is much harder to give a [...]

  15. Moriah Jovan
    Aug 18, 2010 @ 14:36:02

    I think Holly should become a guest reviewer. That was awesome.

    ReplyReply

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    Feb 23, 2012 @ 20:11:52

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