REVIEW: Ruthless Magnate, Convenient Wife by Lynne Graham
Dear Ms. Graham:
When I start reading this book I was pleased to see that it was a billionaire from some other region than Italy, Greece, London or Spain. Instead we are treated to a Russian billionaire. I have fond memories of Russian billionaires. One of my favorite Lindsay books is Secret Fire. I know I probably shouldn’t confess that given that Secret Fire is about a Russian prince who kidnaps an Englishwoman, whom his loyal servants subsequently drug with a powerful aphrodisiac forcing her to suffer the sexual attention of said Russian prince until said drug wears off. But, I digress.
While Sergei Antonovich is just as arrogant Dimitri Alexandrov, the story doesn’t have quite the same charismatic pull. Sergei loves only one woman in his life and that is his grandmother. She is getting older and longs for Sergei to to bring her grandchild.
Wanting to grant her this wish and desirous of having an heir, Sergei employs his vast network of employees to find a woman of suitable intelligence, background, and morality who will, for a sum of money, bear him a child and then leave. Alexa poses as her twin sister Alissa and applies to be Sergei’s surrogate and fake wife for a year. Only for some reason, Alexa decides she would rather marry a different man named Henry and tells Alissa that Alissa must fulfill the contract because Alexa has spent all the money.
This is quite the ridiculous setup. Alexa is cartoonishly villainous. She lacked only the long handled mustache to complete the picture although I could hear the vaudeville music in the backgrond. Alexa is vain, spendthrift, and dishonest. She lies about everything and Alissa, the fatter twin, has to pick up the pieces of Alexa’s messes. Yes, I said fatter because Alissa is less beautiful than her identical twin because she dresses poorly and is slightly heavier. ::cue the rolling of eyes::
Sergei is so talented. He could tell by a picture that Alexa wouldn’t have been an appropriate person to carry out the contract and decides on the eve of the wedding to abandon his scheme. However, when warm, kind Alexa shows up in Alissa’s place, Sergei changes his mind. He’s enraged, however, to find out Alexa and Alissa have switched places. Alissa must fulfill the terms of the contract or he’ll sue them both for fraud.
In this story, Alexa is really the alpha asshole to Alissa’s doormat heroine position. Alexa is constantly so awful that you really have to wonder at what kind of person Alissa is to allow herself to constantly be used in such a horrible fashion. At some point the character goes beyond doormat into masochism. Even after she discovers that she has to bear a child to the stranger and leave the child with him, she is still too weak to stand up to her sister.
Alissa is everything that is good and pure and right in the world. She doesn’t want fancy clothes or expensive jewelry. She only wants to support her dear mother. I guess the Bible is right. The meek will inherit the earth. Sergei’s not a terrible guy but he’s not got much depth. Probably he and Alissa belong together.
I’m still wondering why Alexa wanted old Henry when she loved the lucre that Sergei had. D
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Yeah, from the cover pic she sure looks like a heifer.
And it took him until the eve of the wedding to look at her freakin’ picture? So…was it Alexa’s villainous mustache that clued him in?
“Bitch! She’s a bitch so I can treat her like crap. I’m so enraged.” [pout]
Sounds like even you couldn’t keep Alissa and Alexa straight.
Thanks for the review, doormat heroines who rescue relatives who should have been thrown off a bridge instead aren’t my favorite.
See – that is the beauty of Lynne Graham. I read her books because all her heroes are AlphaBrutes and the women, as you wrote, doormats. She takes an unfeasible plot, stretches it out as much as she can and then throws in even more ridiculous situations yet somehow manages to keep me engaged. I read her books because she always manages to raise the ludicrous bar a little higher every time. She is Champagne (romantic WTF) comedy!
Did you switch Alexa & Alyssa’s name halfway through the review? I’m confused. Maybe I just need coffee.
I secretly love the “twin/mistaken identity” trope. Too bad this was a disappointing example, because the premise was kind of interesting.
I do agree with your take on the book and I bet Segei and Alexa will live HEA and the storyline was cartoonishly “evil” but
LG is a must buy for me. Her stories rise to the most fabulous level of preposterousness, that makes them too too sublime. TSTL heroines & ass head hero’s (who all seem to have “threw back his head and laughed” scenes) annoy the proverbial out of me. But really how can I not read an author that managed to create an immaculate birth in one of her books (a Mastercard moment). PS loved that Lindsay book
Lynne Graham is review proof for me. I have all her books and adored her earlier sulky, beautiful young heros. IMO, she’s been getting more of a moralist as she ages. I fully recognize the flaws in her writing, but it just doesn’t seem to matter.
A must-read “scholarly” analysis of a Lynne Graham book: http://www.aqoul.com/archives/2005/07/a_black_comedy.php
This was an ideal Lynne Graham book for me. Yes it wasn’t that profound or angsty, but the characters were cartoony enough to be engaging. And it was interesting to read about a Russian setting and the Russian wedding. I love her doormats and uberalpha men and the whole twins being two sides of the same person thing is one of my favorite tropes. It’s all black and white and sometimes that is a really refreshing escape. I’ve put this book on my keeper shelf and have already reread it.
@Kerry I did mix them up. Thanks for pointing that out.
I’m with most of the others on this. I know I shouldn’t like it, Alexa/Alissa, whichever one the heroine is was a complete doormat, but Graham does the most delicious heroes. I tend to ignore the heroines.
Is this the one with the Dr. Zhivago ending in the snow? I reread that bit so many times!
And in this one I wanted the other twin to be the heroine. She might have at least fought back a bit. Now wouldn’t that have been interesting? A non virgin heroine who makes messes for her younger doormat sister, and really, if her sister keeps letting her do it, isn’t she a bit of an enabler? Sometimes I wonder what these gorgeous millionaires see in the fat (hah!), badly dressed, plain virgins they take in. Unless it’s to have someone they can tell what to do.
Lynne Graham is really the crack of category. You know you shouldn’t like it, you really won’t buy any more, but– I just bought her new one.
Anybody read Cathy Williams’ latest, “The Millionaire’s One Night Love Child”? I just want my opinion of the book confirmed.
Ah yes, Secret Fire. I’ll always remember that one because it’s when I stopped reading Lindsay. The date rape drug thing was a little too close to reality for my teenage self to handle. So the first time it’s the servants. The second time, he’s enraged she won’t sleep with him again, and he drugs her himself.
Oh, I am glad I read this review. I have been umming and ahhing over whether to buy this book for weeks (I like Graham’s books but the Russian thing doesn’t do it for me) and now I know not to bother.
I will always read a Graham. when sick, I can re-read them 3 at a sitting.
I agree with everything you said..but i still read every word of the book.
It is like crack. Michelle Reid is another presents author who is that way for me……
@Diana You know you say those things and I can nod and agree with everything you say and it only makes me want to re-read the book. I think readers are a bit sick that way. I can’t explain it.
I think you’ve completely missed the wonder that is Lynne Graham. Everything that you disliked is precisely what her readers enjoy!
Preeti – thanks for the hilarious link!
@Meriam Is this your favorite passage? It’s mine:
Yes! That was the laugh out loud point for me.
And Jane, I can’t stand Graham but I love (vintage) Lindsey… it is a sickness.
Secret Fire was the first non-Nora Roberts romance book I ever read.
I HAD FORGOTTEN ITS NAME FOR SO LONG.
In short, thank you for reminding me.
Lynne Graham is a guilty pleasure just like Diane Palmer.
Early Grahams are classics, but her work of late have been H/h meet up, sleep together the hero thinking that the heroine is easy (not a virgin) doesn’t use a condom or it breaks, they part ways, heroine learns later that she is pregnant, finds hero who insist they marry.
Lynne Graham’s books are deathly dull now – not so much an auto-buy but an auto-avoid. I use to love them, but have realised that there really are far better, MUCH more exciting Presents authors out there; Jennie Lucas, Sarah Morgan, Carol Marinelli, India Grey, Kate Hewitt, Julia James…all these authors deliver that intense Presents THING that I just don’t get from the old stalwarts – the Penny Jordans/Lynne Grahams/Emma Darcys of the line. Sorry, I know they still have their fans, but for me, they’ve certainly lost it.