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Lynne Graham

GUEST REVIEW: Harlequin Treasury Crime of Passion by Lynne Graham

GUEST REVIEW: Harlequin Treasury Crime of Passion by Lynne Graham

Fifteen years ago, I wasn’t reading category romances, so all the books that have recently been released in the Harlequin Treasury are new to me. I’m not reading with the rose-tinted spectacles of nostalgia. What I am doing is glomming backlists for some of my current favourite authors. Or, I thought I would be. But what I’m mostly doing is being disappointed that Old Skool category romances are, well, Old Skool. There have been some I didn’t finish (Sandra Marton’s ‘The Divorcee Said Yes‘) and some I wished I hadn’t bothered finishing (Anne McAllister’s ‘A Baby For Christmas‘). But then I started on your books. For me Graham’s books epitomize Harlequin Presents, complete with too-stupid-to-live heroines, alphole heroes, ludicrous plots and overwrought emotions. I know, I know, that Graham’s books ought to offend and irritate me in all sorts of ways. And yet I can’t stop reading them.

Crime of Passion Lynne GrahamSo it was very reassuring to find that 15 year old Lynne Graham books are no different from the newer ones. ‘Crime of Passion‘ begins with our TSTL heroine, Georgie, in a police cell in Bolivia with no money, no passport and no way of communicating with the Spanish-speaking police officer. Seriously, even in 1995 it wasn’t hard to pick up a Rough Guide before you got on the plane. Fortunately, she does know one person in Bolivia: Rafael Berganza. Unfortunately, he’s the man who broke her heart four years earlier.

If you’ve ever read a Lynne Graham (or indeed any HP), you don’t need me to fill in the rest of the plot. But just in case you haven’t, this is how it plays out: he calls her a whore, then abducts her to exact his revenge; she turns out to be a virgin so he is overcome with remorse and insists on marrying her. Then it turns out that they’ve both been in love with each other all along.

Part of me wishes that Lynne Graham would actually start looking up words in the dictionary before she uses them at random in her books. The other part of me loves giggling at expressions such as ‘plunging upright’ and ‘obliging the information’. That’s the same part of me that loves it when heroines have baths without locking the door. Oh, by the way, the cover depicts an actual scene from the story, with the right colour hair on the heroine. That would never happen in a modern HP. Other things that don’t happen in modern HPs: the hero smokes.

I don’t think this book will make it into my top ten Lynne Grahams. There’s just a little bit too much bogglement, even for me. Rafael is really very unpleasant indeed for the first half of the book and Georgie behaves like an irrational child for most of the book. There’s also a scene which I thought was heading towards forced seduction but was fortunately stopped by a phone call. But there are some things about it that I did like. I especially liked the way Georgie and Rafael fight. Their insults are never generic, instead they show just how well these two know how to hurt each other the most. I did wish that their fights could sometimes end without him kissing her, particularly since Georgie suffers from an unfortunate syndrome whereby a single touch from Rafael renders her body wholly beyond her control.

There are scanning errors in the book. My favourite was Rafael’s aunt, Tia Paola, who often appears to be called Ha. I don’t think the errors are much worse than current HP’s and they didn’t particularly drag me out of the story.
I can’t give this book more than a C- but I’ll be checking the other books of yours from the Treasury. I can’t stop myself.

Ros at theoldshed.me

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Reading List for Jane, Week of August 13

Reading List for Jane, Week of August 13

This is more a list of what I read last week because I don’t know what I am going to read this week.  Last week I read:

Never a Mistress, No Longer a Maid by Maureen Driscoll.  This was sent to me by the author. The pitch was really good.  The book not so much.  Standard fare Regency historical that pays no attention to societal restrictions in order to get the couple together.  Also a secret baby story.  It took me days (4) to finish this book.  Full review to come.

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Wild & Steamy by Carolyn Crane, Jill Myles, Meljean Brook. I liked all three stories although there wasn’t any consistent theme among the three.  I understand that there was some angst over Crane’s female protagonist but having not read the previous stories, I didn’t find the character objectionable.  Meljean’s story made me mad because a) it was short and b) I don’t have another Iron Seas book to read until next year.  Jill’s story is fun. I consider Jill a friend, though, so take my recommendation with that proviso.

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Hidden Talents by Emma Holly.  It’s a shapeshifter, etc. alternate reality story based on fated mate bonds.  It’s fairly decent erotic romance but it’s short and the emotional connection is underdeveloped. At the beginning of chapter two, Holly has a gay character use the word ‘faggot’ in reference to himself. I visibly recoiled.

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To the Brink by Cindy Gerard.  This is a marriage in trouble story recommended by the readers to last Tuesday’s thread.  I liked it but I was disappointed that I didn’t get to see the fallout from breakup.  Gerard writes several flashback scenes including how the couple met, got together and what led up to the breakup, but not the actual breakup itself and I felt emotionally robbed.

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A Whirlwind Marriage by Helen Brooks.  A marriage in trouble story recommended by Saly on Twitter.  It was a great read and very different in feel than past Brooks books. Brooks often writes about the heroine who wants to stay at home and have children and devote herself to her family.  She often has her characters refer to those “driven career women” as hard and uninterested in family.  But in this book, the heroine married young and felt suffocated. She wanted to have a life outside the marriage and this leads her to leave her extremely wealthy husband and rent out a dingy bedsit and work at a grocery store until she can start university classes.  Her husband wants her back but until he comes to accept her desire to have a career and a family, they can’t have their HEA.  Full review to come.

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Bad Girl By Night: A H.O.T. Cops Novel by Lacey Alexander. I meant to press the “send a sample” button but inadvertently hit the “buy” button. Oh, Amazon.  Your technology is too easy at times.  I haven’t liked previous Alexander books in the past which is why I wanted to try a sample, fortunately, I ended up liking this a lot.  There are definitely problems in this book but I’ve struggled to find erotic romances that have a good emotional arc and this one does.

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Touch of Crimson by Sylvia Day.  I’ve really enjoyed the short story contributions by Day in the upcoming Men Out of Uniform and another one (the title of which I can’t recall) but I haven’t been able to get into the historical books. I picked this up because I figure it would feature the Day contemporary voice.  There is a kernel of a very good story in this book, but because of the “no paranormal being left behind” mantra that seems to be driving the worldbuilding, the overlapping and confusing taxonomy of beings, and the super unlikeable and hypocritical hero made this a disappointing read. Full review to come.

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Catch Me by Lorelie Brown.  This is a historical western and I love the cover.   I’m not wild about the idea  - the heroine robs a bank to pay for medical care for her dad, the town sheriff, and then is hunted down by a bounty hunter who wants to be the town sheriff.  I’ve been reading it off and on for a month now. I don’t know if I am ever going to finish it.  I keep hoping that at some point I’ll start being lost in the text but it hasn’t happened for me.

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Bride for Real by Lynne Graham.  Apparently this is a sequel to a previous Graham book.  I think this is the second time this year that Harlequin Presents have had sequels to a book but haven’t really given the reader a heads up about it.  The sequel starts off with the couple in the previous book having broken up, so a marriage in trouble trope. I found parts of the story kind of interesting because the secret baby in this story was the hero’s that he created with a different woman while the heroine and hero were separated (but not divorced).  For some the infidelity might be hard to overcome.  My problem was with how superficial some of the issues regarding the couple’s separation were treated.  I did like the idea that the heroine didn’t want to accept the hero’s baby and how the hero’s baby paralleled her own life (she was the out of wedlock child in her family).

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