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REVIEW: Paper Marriage Proposition by Red Garnier

REVIEW: Paper Marriage Proposition by Red Garnier

Dear Ms. Garnier:

You are really skilled at writing sexual tension and emotional agnst.   One of the things I remember about your single title contemporary, The Satin Sash, was the high level of emotion and the gripping chemistry that permeated many of the scenes.   Every encounter between the characters is highly charged.   The problem, though, is two fold.   First, the emotions don’t always seem to match the setting and second, the plot arcs seem to have gaps.

red garnier paper marriage propositionBethany Lewis married a monster.   She wised up and divorced him but it cost him her son.   Hector Halifax engineered evidence to prove that Bethany was an unfit mother.   Left without a dime and unable to see her son, Bethany seeks out Landon Gage who suffered his own tragic loss at the hands of Hector Halifax.   She proposes that he marry her, support her in her custody fight and in return, she will give him a black book that contains the names of the people Halifax has bought.

Interestingly, the revenge theme is turned on its head at the beginning.   Landon professes that he is uninterested in revenge and turns Bethany away.

"It has been six years. I have put the past behind me, where it belongs. I'm not consumed by rage anymore when for years all I thought of was murder. Do not provoke me, or I may just take it out on you."

Instead of a man pursuing revenge, Landon has suppressed his anger and hatred and essentially every other emotion.   He’s been in emotional stasis since his tragedy six years prior.   Beth’s pleas for help, her encouragement of his pursuit of revenge, brings him alive again, much to the delight of his two brothers.   The concept of the story was fine.   It was in the execution where I felt [ ]

For instance, when Beth and Landon discuss the prenup with Landon’s lawyer present, Landon’s demand for fidelity is met, not with just instant agreement, but a rush of sexual reaction:

Faithful to Landon Gage?

Something effervescent slid through her veins, and an awful burn arrowed down her breasts to the warmed, aching place between her thighs. She felt branded, taken in a way that didn’t demand their clothes to be off, as Landon’s eyes sucked her into their depths and filled her body with a horrible ache.

Time and place, Beth, was all I could think at various moments throughout the book.   I think, partly, the problem rested on the fact that Beth is trying to regain custody of her child whom she professes to love a great deal and would do anything to win back.   I don’t mean to suggest that Beth couldn’t be physically attracted to Landon but did the intense sexual reaction she was having during the prenuptial discussion that was, in some ways, insulting toward her, make sense?   Certainly Beth tried to acknowledge that this was inappropriate:

More silence. His face was as unreadable as a wall as he steepled his fingers before him. "All I demand, Beth, is your fidelity. If you want to sleep with someone-’you'll sleep with me."

Oh, God, when Landon spoke that last, her skin went hot. He made it sound like a promise, a decree.

And though romance and sex were the last things on her mind right now, his ill-concealed interest stirred her interest and made her aware of how beautifully virile he was.

Clearly romance and sex weren’t the last things on her mind and this discussion was about custody, money, and divorce.   I suppose what I am to take away from this that their attraction to each other was so strong that it takes precedence over the mundane, but it just made my “inappropriate” button go off in my head.   I was further confused by Beth’s seeming nonchalance at signing away any future rights to a child born of any union between herself and Landon given that he was able to make her think of sex even at the most inappropriate times.

I was also frustrated by Bethany’s lack of spine.   Sometimes she would be undefeatable (stalking Landon to the point of harassment) and then she would show signs of wimpiness at important moments which would require constant reassurance by Landon.

The romantic arc is also fueled by misunderstandings which were caused by Bethany’s actions, actions that I found unreasonable.   I read these portions of the book internally yelling at Bethany to stop, just stop. The characters, their motivations, their emotional and sexual attraction never fully meshed for me. I often felt as if I was being jerked around like a muppet.

For it’s flaws though, the story is full of emotion and refreshing twists.   Landon refers to Bethany as his war buddy in this pitched battle against her ex husband.   The two of them draw strength from their revenge plans and use it, at times, to hide behind when their emotions for each other scare them.   Your prose, your phrases, are intriguing:

Kissing Landon’s lips like her life depended on it. Kissing him not subtly, but hard and fast and desperately.

It irked him immeasurably, her desperation, and he wasn’t certain why. Perhaps because he knew desperation. What shallow company it was, what a lousy counselor it became.

I will keep reading your work and someday, it will all come together for me.   C+

Best regards,

Jane

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REVIEW:  The Secret Child & The Cowboy CEO by Janice Maynard

REVIEW: The Secret Child & The Cowboy CEO by Janice...

Dear Ms. Maynard:

In the pantheon of overused tropes, the secret baby one is probably my least favorite. I wonder if my sensitivity to this has grown since I’ve been a parent myself or whether repeated exposure to this theme has just plain tired me out. But it isn’t just the secret baby trope that set off my bells in this book, it was the heroine who had no self respect and the asshole hero. It was a triumvirate of fail for me.

The Secret Child & The Cowboy CEOHere’s the plot: Bryn Matthews grew up with Mac Sinclair and his four sons. She fell in love with Trent but after being rejected by him at 18 she turned to the youngest son, Jesse. Bryn got pregnant and Jesse claimed the baby wasn’t his. The entire Sinclair clan turned their collective backs away from her and she was thrown out of the family. Six years later, Bryn returns to the Sinclair ranch after the death of Jesse at the request of Mac who needs nursing services. Bryn also returns to claim her son’s share of the Sinclair inheritance. Trent is   at the ranch, taking a break from making his billions; and he is going to make damn sure that Bryn doesn’t take advantage of Mac while Mac is ill. And Trent is going to try to restrain himself from Bryn’s obvious sexuality.

So the plot isn’t that horrible. It’s the execution of the plot that is horrible. Bryn keeps throwing herself at Trent again and again who keeps telling her how much she disgusts him.

He gazed at her bleakly. "The damned thing is, Bryn, it worked. I wanted you so much, I was sick with it. And if you had left Jesse alone, you and I might have ended up together. But you made that impossible. And then you tried to make Jesse take responsibility for another guy's kid. You disgust me."

But Trent’s disgust for Bryn doesn’t stop him from saying that they can put things behind them so the two of them can have sex. (Trent already believes she is a slut anyway, right?) Bryn is so weak that she can’t say no to him even after he tells her that she disgusts him. Disgusts him. That’s really strong.

Bryn doesn’t really inspire any warm feelings herself. She leaves her five year old son to go to take care of Mac and hopefully change his feelings toward her and her son so that her son can get a share of the Sinclair millions. On the one hand, that’s great and on the other, she has so little thought of her son other than a nightly phone call that I found her care for her child to be fairly superficial. Her thoughts of her son come to mind only when it is convenient to move the story along. Further, she finds out that her son might not be part of the Sinclair family and decides to keep that information to herself.

She spends an inordinate amount of time internally reviewing all of the sins of Jesse (and they were multitudinous but enough already).

I struggled to find anything likeable about any of the characters. There is Mac, the patriarch who is 99% sure that his son was likely lying about Bryn despite having almost raised Bryn himself, particularly when he knew how troubled Jesse was. No one thought to get a DNA test and Bryn didn’t demand one. Trent was led around by his penis. Only one chapter separates the “you disgust me” from “I’m trying to put the past behind me so we can sex each other up.”

Fortunately, Bryn’s innocence is cemented in Trent’s mind when they finally do have sex because her passage is so tight. Surely she couldn’t have been the slut that his brother made her out to be. Oh, the old tight passage. The revirginization.

Bryn was almost a virgin-if there was such a thing. Her body hadn't accepted his willingly. She'd been fully aroused, no doubt about that. But he'd had a difficult time penetrating her incredibly tight passage.

Which must mean she had gone without sex for a very long time. And that picture sure as hell didn't jive with Jesse's description of Bryn as a seducer and a promiscuous teen.

Through rediscovering her re-virginity, thankfully, Trent decides that Bryn is a Madonna ill used by the family. It’s kind of amazing that Trent was a successful businessman since he was able to bring 2 and 2 together to get 25. Let’s see, Bryn still could have been a slut as a teen and not have had sex for five years because she was too busy being a single parent. Her frigging tight passage (if you even believe that old yarn) could have been created post slut time period. But even so, she’s had a melon pass through her old tight passage. Sigh. Whatever.

The writing style and prose was decent enough but the asshole to doormat ratio is high and for me, unbearable. D.

Best regards,

Jane

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