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REVIEW: Magnate’s Make-Believe Mistress by Bronwyn Jameson

Dear Ms Jameson:

magnateSarah from SmartBitches either tweeted or emailed me that she was reading some awesome book. I am always interested in awesome books so I emailed her and asked her for the name of said book. Bronwyn Jameson came the response and so off I went to Harlequin. I emailed her back and you can read my response at the end of the review.

Christiano Veron loved his ponies and his family. When his sister’s fiancee, Hugh, tells Cristo that another woman from Australia is claiming to be pregnant with Hugh’s baby, Cristo agrees to meet with this other woman. (Oh noes! a Secret Baby!) Surprisingly, though, Cristo will not suppress the truth from his sister.

“I will find her,” Cristo corrected in a lethally low voice. “And I will discover the truth behind her allegation before I walk my sister down the aisle. If it turns out you are lying, there will be no payout, no hiding the truth and no wedding.”

This was my first clue that this story might not be as I expected. In fact, the biggest compliment for this book is that when I thought the book would take a right turn, it always took the left turn. There are no real villains in this story and every time I tried to peg someone as the villain, I was wrong. When I tried to match up various characters in the book, I ended up being wrong. When I thought that Cristo’s mom was going to hate Isabelle because Vivi has plans for Cristo that don’t include some girl from Australia, I was wrong. Vivi doesn’t look down on the housekeeper, Isabelle; instead they become instant bosom buddies. One of my favorite lines in the book is when Cristos describes his mother, who has been married five times, as “Vivi is half Italian, half English. All crazy.”

Cristo goes to Australia to find Isabelle Browne and determine what the truth is. He has no intention of crushing her, but he also has little respect for her believing she is likely no more than a gold digger. Isabelle is a private housekeeper who hires out to the wealthy clients. She is often solicited by name as she has a great reputation in certain circles for being the perfect temporary housekeeper; and thus, Cristo’s Veron’s request for her services is perfectly reasonable. But Isabelle wonders if Cristos is related to Hugh Harrington and whether he is in Australia to fix things by paying Isabelle off.

It’s not obvious, at first, that this story is inspired by the Cinderella fairy tale, but it becomes increasingly clear as the reader moves into the book. Clearly the elements are updated but we have one handsome prince, difficult siblings, a housekeper, a special gown scene, a ball scene, and a left behind shoe but it is all intricately tied into the story.

Cristos walked a tight line between being an alpha male and an asshole male, but I never thought he stepped over. He was strong and protective but he wasn’t out to ruin anyone’s life. He used his power and influence, though, to get what he wanted. Isabelle was wonderful. She wasn’t shy about sharing with Cristos how she felt.   She recognizes that she is falling for Cristos and is determined that she’ll enjoy the time she has left with him even though the fairy tale must come to an end but not because she’s not worthy of him.   She loved him and she put herself all in, as the poker players would say, regardless of the consequences.

What really makes a contemporary successful for me is when the conflict is primarily relationship related and in this case, the conflict was focused on Cristos and Isabelle falling in love despite what suspicions they had about each other and about the institution of love and commitment.

When I ended the book, I wrote to Sarah with the subject title “I needed an epilogue.”


Yes, me, the epilogue hater. I didn’t want one with babies but something showing them blissfully happy, riding their polo ponies, and making love in the moonlight. Or something. B+

Best regards,


This book can be purchased at Amazon or in ebook format from Sony or 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. MaryK
    Aug 04, 2009 @ 09:47:10

    I bought this one last week when I saw you refer to it as a Cinderella book. :)

  2. Meljean
    Aug 04, 2009 @ 10:18:21

    Oh, I like Bronwyn Jameson, and I’m always a sucker for a retold fairy tale.

  3. Susan/DC
    Aug 04, 2009 @ 10:35:30

    A question: why is it a surprise that

    Cristo will not suppress the truth from his sister

    I don’t generally read categories so don’t know the standard tropes, but wouldn’t you expect a brother to want to protect his sister from someone who lied about something so important? It’s not protecting her to lie to her yourself about what happened and then either let her marry Hugh or make him disappear and lie about why he hotfooted it. Just wondering what would happen in most other categories that Christos telling his sister the truth would be such a surprise.

  4. Jane
    Aug 04, 2009 @ 10:38:16

    @Susan/DC: I figured that he would pay off the interfering woman and then drive Hugh away but not make Hugh face the consequences as that would be painful for the sister. Not that I thought Cristos would support the marriage.

  5. Robin
    Aug 04, 2009 @ 10:52:28


  6. CourtneyLee
    Aug 04, 2009 @ 11:49:52

    Cristos walked a tight line between being an alpha male and an asshole male…

    I love this distinction. I read a lot of alpha-male-laden paranormal romance and this line is definitely crossed sometimes. It’s so great when it’s not, though; I do so love an alpha whom I don’t want to berate for being a jerk.

    I rarely read categories anymore (too addicting; I’d go broke) but I think I’ll have to pick this one up.

  7. Lynette
    Aug 04, 2009 @ 13:27:50

    This sounds great. You’re going to make me break my book budget this month.

  8. Becky Ward
    Aug 04, 2009 @ 15:18:16

    This sounds great. I enjoy reading Bronwyn Jameson’s stories.

  9. rigmarole
    Aug 04, 2009 @ 15:32:35

    I write epilogues inside my head when necessary. Always have.

  10. Caffey
    Aug 04, 2009 @ 15:41:55

    I love reading Bron’s books, its not much I find of Australia set books and she really gives me the feel for those settings. Its sounds too like one of those books that I like to re-visit with them! Maybe the author will have a related book and we can ‘say hi’ again! Or beg for a epilogue on her site! Love your review!

  11. Lolita Lopez
    Aug 05, 2009 @ 04:45:15

    OMG! I loved this book. I devoured the whole thing in an afternoon. Bronwyn Jameson is forever on my buy list. Fingers crossed she’ll get to explore the rest of the family in related books. I totally have to know what happens between Chessie and Hugh’s brother! Also Cristo’s yummy polo playing brother offers an interesting character for another book.

    Oh, and I was a smidge sad not to have an epilogue. The babies and rainbows and ponies endings are part of what make Desire novels one of my guilty pleasures.

  12. Bronwyn Jameson
    Aug 06, 2009 @ 00:43:08

    Jane, thank you ever so much for trying my book and for the brilliantly spoiler-free review. Must admit to an epilogue aversion, but after reading Lolita’s comment — so happy you liked and want more! — I have made a note about rainbows and babies and ponies. A challenge for the next book!

    Caffey, you’re spot on. I do like ye olde connected books and so Isabelle and Cristo’s “epilogue” plays out through the next book. I think they’ve called it BILLIONAIRE’S INCONVENIENT BRIDE. Next year.


  13. Amy
    Jan 14, 2010 @ 13:30:33


    Thanks for this review. I have never read Bronwyn Jameson’s stories before (and in fact rarely read any of Harlequin’s category books before stumbling onto your blog). But as usual, I bought this book because I liked what I read here and I am really enjoying this right now. I’m mid-way through and I’m online trying to find the sister’s story. But I see it isn’t out yet.

    Ms. Jameson, thank you for the enjoyable story. I will be looking for your books in the future.

  14. Jane
    Jan 14, 2010 @ 13:31:59

    @Amy That’s awesome. I wonder if you would like Anne McAllister then. I need to write more reviews of her books. I think of all the things I learned while blogging is that categories really are pretty good. (I mean, there are some terrible ones, but I’m pleasantly surprised).

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