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marriage-of-convenience

REVIEW:  The Spanish Billionaire’s Pregnant Wife by Lynne Graham

REVIEW: The Spanish Billionaire’s Pregnant Wife by Lynne Graham

Dear Ms. Graham:

This book was re-released by Harlequin Presents to look less Harlequin Presents-y and more upscale contemporary romance. The inside however, is classic Harlequin Presents. A young, down on her luck waitress slash potter spends a torrid evening with a wealthy Spanish billionaire only to find herself pregnant because neither of them use birth control during their one night of stranger sex.  Given that Leandro Carrera Marquez, Duque de Sandoval, needs an heir, he quickly decides that Molly the waitress will be his next wife.

The Spanish Billionaire's Pregnant WifeThe opening of the story slides from interesting to embarrassing. Leandro is presented as a near god in his life, the patriarch of his venerable family. His clothes are laid out for him, fresh towels are brought to his toilette every morning, and as he descends the castillo stairs, he is greeted by no less than three of his servants.

Having been greeted by Basilio, his major-domo, and two maidservants at the foot of the stairs with much the same pomp and ceremony that the first duque would have received in the fifteenth century, Leandro was ushered into breakfast.

Yet when we move to London where Leandro meets our intrepid heroine, we are presented with clumsy head hops from character to character as well as rather forced physical attraction between the heroine and Leandro at a wedding reception that Molly is working. Consider the rather cliched line that closes chapter one after Leandro has been ushered out onto the balcony after interceding between Molly and three drunken wedding guests.

‘There were three of them and only one of you.’ Molly stretched up on tiptoe to brush her fingertips very gently over the darkening bruise forming on his olive skin. ‘You could have got really badly hurt and I feel guilty enough. I’ve brought you some food. Please eat something.’

‘I’m not hungry for anything but you,’ Leandro breathed thickly.

This was one book that I felt would have been better served if we started at the pregnancy than try to watch these two rather mismatched pair try to convince we readers that their lust was too strong to resist after a few glances across the canape tray, particularly given that Molly was a virgin.  Moreover, the invitation issued by Leandro after their one night together to become his mistress didn’t really match up with the cool headed, but bored banker presented in the opening pages.  Leandro, in particular, is kind of a bland HP hero.  He has some anxiety over his previous poor marriage and his wife’s subsequent death.

Molly was more interesting than the standard HP heroine.  She waitressed to pay for the bills but she wasn’t destitute.  Her pottery was something she was passionate about.  While she didn’t have family, she did have a few friends. In other words, turning down the mistress position didn’t mean she went without food and companionship.   Further, she’s always challenging Leandro, taking vocal issue with his presumptuousness, and refusing to simply be ordered about by him or intimidated by his wealth and title.

Leandro isn’t much of an asshole either; just someone used to getting his own way and being catered to. That part was set up nicely with just a few paragraphs in the opening of the book.  My major issue with this book was that the overly sexual tones of the book didn’t work for me because I wasn’t entirely convinced that these two were in lust.  In HP world, there is a fairly low doormat to asshole ratio and a high sensuality content. I can see why it was chosen for reissue even if the coupling of these two didn’t work for me. C

Best regards,

Jane

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REVIEW:  A Passion for Pleasure by Nina Rowan

REVIEW: A Passion for Pleasure by Nina Rowan

Dear Ms. Rowan:

Your first book, A Study in Seduction, was the subject of intense debate between myself and Sarah Wendell of SmartBitchesTrashyBooks on the issue of the heroine’s believability as a mathematician. Spoiler: I liked it. I haven’t had great success with historicals and was eager to read the follow up featuring the musically inclined hero, Sebastian Hall who was the brother of the hero in A Study in Seduction.

A Passion for Pleasure Nina RowanThe Hall siblings are suffering from a fall from social grace after their mother ran away with a Russian soldier.  Their father, the Earl of Rushton, is a humorless man but one who cares a great deal about his children.  He worries about Sebastian after Sebastian leaves a prestigious conducting position at the Court of Weimar in Germany.  Rushton orders Sebastian to marry and settle down or lose his allowance.

Clara Whitmore is the daughter of Baron Fairfax. She married a man approved by her father and had a son, Andrew.  When her husband died, Fairfax was ceded guardianship and ousted Clara from his home, declaring that she was responsible for her husband’s death and that she was not a fit parent.  Clara holds a life tenancy in a property that she’d like to sell in order to barter the funds to debt ridden Fairfax in exchange for her son.  When the courts rule the property can only be transferred to a male, Clara offers a marriage of convenience to Sebastian.  She will then transfer the estate to him and he can sell it.

Clara’s crush on Sebastian started long before she makes the offer of marriage.  Sebastian taught piano lessons to her brother and her when Clara was younger and she had always envisioned him as the epitome of a dashing man.  And he was.  But since he lost the use of his right hand, Sebastian’s confidence and zest for life has all but disappeared. Now he recognizes that a small wren of a woman like Clara has more depth that the debutantes he used to squire around.

The idea that it takes a disfigurement or disability to make someone less shallow is a little disconcerting but what troubled me the most is how quickly Sebastian moved from “Clara Whitmore is a girl I wouldn’t have noticed before I left the Court of Weimar” to “I can’t wait to get in her pants.” He segues from lust into love even more rapidly.  Clara’s feelings for Sebastian are withheld, almost in a contrived fashion.  She doesn’t want to love him until he accepts himself which  didn’t fit  Clara’s earlier and previous feelings for Sebastian.

The real emotion that Clara showed for the loss of her son resonated more strong than the romance between Sebastian and Clara. I never really got a sense for either of them. Yes, Sebastian was tortured because he could no longer play the piano and no longer compose his music but his musicality didn’t really sing to me like Lydia’s love for math did in the previous book.  Clara’s feelings toward Andrew seemed stronger than her feelings toward Sebastian.

The throwaway plot of Clara’s uncle finding plans for a special code creating machine seemed ill suited for this book and appeared to only be included to set up Sebastian’s brother’s story.

Finally, the issue of Sebastian’s mother comes into play and while I appreciate the thematic issues of parenthood from Rushton to Sebastian and Clara to her son, I felt the ending was rather hamfisted. C

Best regards,

Jane

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