Dear Ms. Shaw:
This was the second bestselling Harlequin Presents at eharlequin.com. I read it after The Virgin’s Wedding Night and while the two books had similar emotional character arcs, my response to them was extremely different. While Craven’s book interested me enough to buy others, The Frenchman’s Marriage Demand made me wish I had a paper copy so that I could throw it against the wall.
Zacharie Deverell set Freya Addison up as his mistress for a few months in Monaco. She claimed that she was pregnant after one of her bodyguards reported that she was cheating on Zac. Zac kicked her out. Freya returns to London where she struggles to raise her daughter with help from Freya’s bitter grandmother. When Freya is injured in a motor vehicle accident, she begs her grandmother for help. Instead, her grandmother finds out that Zac is in London and takes baby Aimee to Zac. Zac has his reasons for not believing that Aimee is his and goes to the hospital to drop Aimee off and confront Freya again.
The whole sordid backstory is told in a “Did You Know Bob” bonanza with Freya on the hospital bed, Zac looming over her and eighteen month Aimee in the middle, watching avidly as the two insult and curse at each other. Nice parenting there.
Zac is an ass for the entire book. The entire book. There is no redeeming moment for him that I can find. While Freya is laying in the hospital bed, Zac is going at her for “setting him up”. Um, gosh, that is totally possible since she’s been in the hospital for the past twenty four hours with possibly a mild concussion and a broken wrist, but sure she took the time to find out Zac’s business plans and ambush him in London. Of course, Freya smartly (and by smartly I mean stupidly and without any common sense) decides that rather than confront him with the facts of her situation that she’ll rehash the whole “you kicked me out and I never betrayed you line.”
I am not sure why Freya has any “love” for him at all. Physical desire, yes, but love? Freya is such a limp waisted rag that it’s probably no wonder Zac treats her so shabbily.
Anyway, 18 months later they decide to have a paternity test and hello, guess what? Of course, then Zac wants to get married. Because as an international playboy, you always need to get married once you’ve impregnated someone. While they are waiting for the paternity results, which we all know will be positive, Zac finds himself drawn to Freya again. Clearly Zac would be drawn to a potted plant since he supposedly despises Freya. But his dick doesn’t care and because he is a man, he must follow the dictates of his dick.
'Such as this,' he said, ignoring her punitive struggles to escape from his grip as he lowered his mouth with slow deliberation until it hovered millimetres above hers. 'You may dislike me almost as much as I dislike you, but unfortunately sexual desire seems to have no respect for our mutual loathing–"does it, Freya?'
I lose all respect for Freya (as if I had any in the first place) because hello, this guy is insulting you at every turn in very mean, cruel ways, and your response is to screw him? Don’t either of you have any willpower?
There’s an attempt to salvage Zac by showing that he actually cares for Aimee and always had:
But he had felt protective of Freya's child from the moment Joyce Addison had abandoned her to his care and he knew without doubt that he would love Aimee unconditionally for the rest of his life. Aimee was adorable and, having missed the first eighteen months of her life, he was determined not to miss another day.
This is so false and contrived. He hadn’t paid any attention to the child and thought that Freya was lying. He only planned to “love” Aimee because now she’s his “real child” Bah. Suffice to say this story relied heavily on melodrama and artifice and lacked any believable happily ever after. Sure, Freya, the door mat, and Zac, the ass, probably belong together but will they be happy? It’s not one I believe in. D