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REVIEW: A Daring Proposition by Jennifer Greene

Dear Ms. Greene:

This is a reprint of a formerly published book.   Interestingly some of the book has been updated to make it seem more modern such as references to text messaging and more current popular culture references and, possibly even the clothes although I wasn’t quite sure of the latter.**

A Daring Proposition by Jennifer GreeneThe set up has a big plot hole in that independently wealthy CPA, desirous of a child, asks a stranger to volunteer his sperm. She gets the idea from an article she read about a sperm bank in California that hosts the sperm of Nobel Laureates. Why wouldn’t she just go to that sperm bank instead of availing herself of local talent?

Still, I liked the characters and if you set aside the plot hole (that is never really addressed because Leigh’s explanation that Brian, the hero, didn’t like personal entanglements and thus was perfect for her plans only served to reinforce the idea that she should just use a sperm bank), you get an interesting story.   While it is a book I recommend, I think it is only going to work for those who like a certain type of book.   Even though the descriptions were updated, the tone was not.   For instance, the constant use of “lady” instead of “woman” seemed to harken back to an earlier time period as did the reference to “lady friends” or the heroine as “frigid.”   It reminded me of the category books of the 90s in tone and I enjoyed that but I wonder if some would view the tone too old fashioned.   And there are a lot of problems to overcome and those problems will be insurmountable for some, justifiably so.

Leigh Sexton is a CPA and independently wealthy due to an inheritance from her deceased parents.   She works as a CPA, not for the money but for the mental challenge and stimulation.   She’s also very private and does not partake of the social activities that many of her peers do which is why her appearance at a cocktail party thrown by Brian Hathaway’s firm to celebrate the end of an audit.

Apparently Brian Hathaway likes all women, “so long as they are pretty and prone” he was once quoted as saying.   This serves to be true when Leigh approaches Brian and says that she has a request of a personal nature.   This leads Brian to assume Leigh wants to have sex with him and begins the process of dishevelment: removing pins, taking off her glasses and the like. Leigh quickly disabuses Brian of this and lays out her deal: $10,000 for his sperm.   Brian is offended that she would think he would father a child, even through sperm donation and then want nothing to do with the child.   He turns her down for a whole host of reasons, but primarily because he feels that a woman who would offer him this deal would be too cold blooded to properly parent a child.

Leigh’s desire to be a mother, however, is unabated yet she does nothing to pursue her dream.   She doesn’t look into adoption. She doesn’t contact the Nobel Laureate sperm bank.   Instead, Leigh is fortunate because Brian comes back with an alternate deal. Marry him and she can have her baby.   Brian doesn’t really believe in the institution of marriage, but at thirty-five, he, too, would like a family.   Marriage to Leigh who would condone his extra marital relationships but also provide a solid foundation upon which to co parent a child makes sense for him.

But as they pretend to love each other for their family and friends and as they spend more time together, their respect and affection for each other deepen to a point where sexual tension is an almost palpable object.   Leigh, however, has been sexually traumatized which is why she sought out the insemination path believing she could never withstand a physical relationship with a man.   She tried once, only to hurt her lover badly and render her scared of all further intimate encounters.

What I liked about the book was the slow progression of the romance and the love between the two people.   There was no instant lust.   Leigh was perfectly happy, particularly in the beginning, to send Brian off to his other women.   As her feelings for him grew, her laissez faire attitude about time spent away from her and with others abated.   Pregnancy also wore away her confidence, showing her how she couldn’t really plan or control everything.

The story is told from Leigh’s point of view and her character arc is the focus, although it is told through the romance between her and Brian.   Brian is portrayed as very devoted and tender.   He made the right foil for Leigh. There is a bit of Brian-knows-best during the book (particularly in the beginning and toward the end), but I  thought Leigh was always the braver one in the relationship.   She was willing to admit her feelings and suffer the possible rejection whereas Brian was the reactor.   In the hands of a less skilled author, I think this could have been a wallbanger. I liked Leigh quite a bit and Brian was right for her and that’s what makes this book for me despite the plot holes and the magic peen that washes away all sexual trauma.   B-

Best regards,

Jane

Book Link | Kindle | nook
| Sony| Carina Press

** The updating of older books prompted me to write up an opinion piece that I will post in 2011. I thought it was clever in this book, but could see it having negative results in others.

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

23 Comments

  1. Sandra
    Dec 27, 2010 @ 13:09:13

    Sounds like some of the other aspects need to be updated as well. Once upon a time, a CPA might have attended a party hosted by a client to celebrate the completion of an audit. But that’s unlikely these days, since the passage of Sarbanes-Oxley and the establishment of PCAOB. With Enron and WorldCom, et al, and the additional oversight, CPA firms tend to keep their distance with clients. They sure don’t ask them to be sperm donors. I’d say that definitely violates the independence and objectivity standards.

  2. Renda
    Dec 27, 2010 @ 13:54:32

    I am glad to know that you are going to do an opinion piece in the future on updating of older titles. It is a question I have had for some time. I will read an older book and think, this could be updated easily; but then I have read others and think that any updating would really hurt the feel of the book.
    Looking forward to the op piece in the future.

  3. Linda Winfree
    Dec 27, 2010 @ 15:49:43

    Oh, wow, I remember reading the original of this book. I loved it way back when. Not sure I’d want to read the “updated” version, but the idea is intriguing . . .

  4. Barbara
    Dec 27, 2010 @ 15:59:54

    Some of the clothing was sort of timeless; the white angora sweater Leigh wears at Christmas, for example. But when Brian picks her up to “make the deal,” he’s wearing a velour shirt. I laughed my butt off. Talk about taking me out of the moment.

    The magic peen moment reeked of a little forced seduction for me, but hey, magic peen is magic peen.

    But it was a nice book, for exactly the reasons you mentioned. Lots of plot holes too, but in the forward, the author mentions that this was her first published book. I don’t know if she meant first for Berkley or first first, but either way it was an awfully good first effort for 20 plus years ago.

  5. joanne
    Dec 27, 2010 @ 16:06:18

    No, no, no, no. Just no. The author can update this story from now ’til forever and it will still be wrong. Financial stability does not a parent make. (Harlequin Greek Tycoons, are you listening?)

    I can enjoy fictional plots that aren’t going to fly in real life (cripes, I even like dragon-freakin’-shifters) but this- no.

    I’m freaked about this cavalier attitude toward having a baby. A woman who offers to pay for sperm -from someone she does business with, no less- and then, after she’s pregnant, realizes that she can’t control ‘everything’ is a heroine who should have been left in the ‘good old days’ of romance books.

    It must have been a case (that happens to all of us from time to time) that you must have really loved the writing and the characters.

  6. Jane
    Dec 27, 2010 @ 16:17:58

    @joanne Objectively, I know that there are a lot of problems and I wanted to point all of them out in the review so people would know what they were getting in for, but I did like the story so I felt like I should grade it positively.

  7. Jane
    Dec 27, 2010 @ 16:19:07

    @Barbara There was a dress reference in there that seemed fairly modern but I couldn’t tell. The velour seems to have been a miss if the clothing was updated. I am reading another Greene from Carina Press and a ranch hand is mentioning watching CSI so it would be interesting to know what Greene has chosen to update and what she has not. Maybe I’ll try to contact her for the article!

  8. library addict
    Dec 27, 2010 @ 18:08:51

    I have the Jove Second Chance at Love copy of this from when she was writing as Jeanne Grant. I read it back in the late 80s when I rummaged through all the used bookstores in my area and by snailmail to track down her entire backlist (which consisted of about 13 books at the time – LOL). I have bought some of the Carina reissues, but not this one yet. And I haven’t read any of the reissues yet.

    I really wish she hadn’t updated/changed it all. This also happened when a few of Nora’s old Silhouette and Sandra Brown’s Loveswept titles were first reissued in print (changing albumns to CDs, etc). Personally, I want the story as it was written when I duplicate/replace my print books in e. The fact that the author updates it makes me feel like a chump for having read and liked the original and wanting that in eformat. Like the original book wasn’t good enough or something.

    One author even expanded/reissued a m/f story as a m/f/m one. My feeling is just write a new story. Updating a few things here or there doesn’t “fix” anything and can make the rest of the story seem even more dated.

    New readers glomming your backlist should take into account the original pub date. And longtime readers won’t feel as if they’ve been rebuked for wanting to reread the original book, old attitudes or not.

  9. DS
    Dec 27, 2010 @ 18:10:28

    @Barbara:

    Some of the clothing was sort of timeless; the white angora sweater Leigh wears at Christmas, for example. But when Brian picks her up to “make the deal,” he's wearing a velour shirt. I laughed my butt off. Talk about taking me out of the moment.

    Reminds me of a book from the late 60′s/early 70′s I reread a while back– Ring of Fear by Anne McCaffrey– one of her contemporary romantic suspense books.

    The hero is described as short and wearing an open at the throat jump suit. Probably with a bandanna and I’m sure it must have been made of polyester. Not something I want to ever think about.

  10. GrowlyCub
    Dec 27, 2010 @ 19:13:22

    @library addict:

    One author even expanded/reissued a m/f story as a m/f/m one.

    Inquiring minds want to know! That’s modern indeed! lol

  11. library addict
    Dec 27, 2010 @ 23:47:25

    @GrowlyCub: It was Melissa Schroeder with Hands on Training. The 2005 version is m/f and she just reissued it as a ménage. So, that’s not even an out-of-date reissue type situation.

    I just don’t like feeling like the earlier version of a book I spent my money on wasn’t good enough for the author so they changed it and reissued it. I get that authors are probably never completely satisfied with their own stories, but I just don’t like the idea of expanded/rewritten reissues. I think they should spend that time and energy creating new stories.

    I can see fixing typos and small continuity errors (like when the hero is wearing a green shirt and on the next page it’s blue or the heroine is 5 inches shorter in one scene than she was or something). But that’s it :P

    For the record, I don't have anything against ménages, though they aren't usually my cup of tea. I was organizing my books in Calibre last month and when I went looking for a decent pic of the cover I was rather surprised to see two guys on it on her website. I was like, Grant? Who is Grant?

  12. Barbara
    Dec 28, 2010 @ 11:50:10

    @Jane: On her website, she seems very excited about the reissues. I would think/hope that she’d be eager to chat about the trend. I’d love to hear her thoughts and see what, if any, input she had in the updating.

    In the next one (Silver & Spice), it looks like almost nothing was done. The h wears coulottes and velvety cords, the H, Western-style snap-front shirts and he drives an RV with bright blue plush seats for just a couple of quick examples. It’s weird.

  13. Jane
    Dec 28, 2010 @ 12:04:23

    @Barbara: I kind of think the outdated clothing is charming. In my opinion piece, I reference a Sara Craven book wherein the hero is dressed like Don Johnson: windbreaker unzipped to the waist and sleeves pushed up with shorts. The heroine is so turned on, she can scarely breathe. I loved it, in part, because of its outdatedness.

  14. TKF
    Dec 28, 2010 @ 14:53:37

    Updating seems weird to me. Esp when tech is changing things so quickly. A plot that would have worked pre-cell phone, suddenly seems clunky if a quick call from that handy and ubiquitous gadget could have saved the day. A fight over where they would live and someone losing their job might be easily resolved today with telework. And social mores are changing almost just as fast . . . as pointed out by Jame, why wouldn't this woman just go to the damn sperm bank? And if he wants a kid so bad, why wouldn't he just hire a surrogate. No need for a loveless arrangement. The idea is quaint at best today.

  15. jayhjay
    Dec 28, 2010 @ 15:56:27

    @Jane:

    In my opinion piece, I reference a Sara Craven book wherein the hero is dressed like Don Johnson: windbreaker unzipped to the waist and sleeves pushed up with shorts. The heroine is so turned on, she can scarcely breathe. I loved it, in part, because of its outdatedness.

    Hah hah! This killed me!!! Oh, the 80′s!

  16. GrowlyCub
    Dec 28, 2010 @ 16:05:59

    @library addict: That’s really bizarre.

    I’m totally against rewrites. As somebody said already, just write a new story.

    I really got annoyed at Putney ‘updating’ one of my all time favorite books by including a reference to a nameless group of friends in The Rake as the Fallen Angels. So gratuitous!

    Totally unnecessary and the book was no better and I’d say actually worse for the ‘improvements’.

  17. Barbara
    Dec 28, 2010 @ 17:13:37

    @Jane:

    I can’t disagree too much about the outdated references being kind of cute to some degree. The reason I’m loving these reissues so much is because these are exactly the books (well, not these specifically, but you know) that were my introduction to reading romance, along with the pirate/wench novels that I stole from my grandma when I was in middle school. These though, were the first type I bought for myself, so they sort of hold a special place in my heart.

    It’s why I can read nearly all of the HP and SuperRomance lines without gagging. :)

    Some of the clothing references I can’t do though, and it’s mainly because they’re fashion faux pas that I made. I do not want to read about red coulottes because I wore them and I wore them badly. lol

  18. Char
    Dec 28, 2010 @ 17:42:30

    library addict: One author even expanded/reissued a m/f story as a m/f/m one.

    I’m with you and Growly Cub. The example NO! I want the book to be the book I remember, not hotter/ not erottica, that’s a different genre. Both are good, but neither is the other.

    Re-issue without updating, which can never have the flow of the original. Write new books with new characters for us to love.

  19. jayhjay
    Dec 28, 2010 @ 18:14:55

    I haven’t read any updated books that I know of but it seems sort of weird. Books are generally reflect the time they are written. Based on comments here it seems really hard to capture all of those elements – fashion, technology, terminology, social norms, etc. And when you do some things and not others, it makes it even more weird.

    The hardest issue would be a story like this where something that is common and an easy answer now (ie sperm bank) was less so then, but this element is so integral to the story it can’t be changed. Of course, only in Romancelandia do people proposition their clients for sperm!

    Over at Smart Bitches book club they just read a revised Jennifer Crusie. I missed the book chat but I would have been very curious to hear what people thought of the update, especially having read the first version.

  20. Susan/DC
    Dec 29, 2010 @ 20:44:46

    Did no one else wonder about Brian liking all women “so long as they are pretty and prone”? Prone means face down, so is the hero expressing a preference for a specific sexual practice here or is he simply misusing the word?

  21. Jane
    Dec 29, 2010 @ 20:49:21

    @Susan/DC: I took it that he liked pretty women who were lying on their backs.

  22. GrowlyCub
    Dec 29, 2010 @ 20:53:11

    “Prone” derives from the Latin pronus: “bent forward” aka lying on your stomach face down.

    Amazing how many authors get that one wrong. What the author wanted was ‘supine’.

  23. Seressia
    Dec 30, 2010 @ 11:48:05

    Erm…this is what I thought when I read that line:

    “having a natural inclination or tendency to something; disposed; liable: to be prone to anger.”

    So he likes women who are more disposed to having casual sex than those who aren’t.

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