REVIEW: Virgin on Her Wedding Night by Lynne Graham
Dear Ms. Graham:
I can’t say I ever understood the motivations of the characters in this story. Five years after being jilted, literally at the altar, Valente Lorenzatto is putting the final touches on his revenge against Caroline Bailey nee Hales. Five years ago Valente was a lorrie truck driver for Hales Trucking and now he has purchased the ailing company and will provide a future for it if the now widowed Carline Bailey will be his mistress.
Caroline became engaged to Valente five years ago, professed to marry him, left him at the altar and married the son of a family friend. Her marriage was miserable, so miserable that her cruel husband never once availed himself of marital privileges, preferring to turn to more bosomy blonde women. INORITE? The contortions exercised to present a virginal woman in this book is incredible.
Caroline, rejected by her cruel husband and verbally abused by him for several years until his death, is scared of being touched. She just doesn’t believe she can be a mistress. She can be mercenary (but of course is not presented as such). She somehow convinces Valente that he must marry her if he wants to sleep with her. So marry her he does because what better way to exact revenge upon the woman who jilted you, has lost all worldly possessions but to marry her? ?????
Valente, for all his professed eagerness to exact revenge, doesn’t try to humiliate Caroline but instead marries her, makes every attempt to understand her fear of the bedroom (she acts like she has been physically abused), and generally treats her pretty well.
Ameobas probably have more spine than Caroline although her pulling off the marriage was pretty breathtaking in light of Valente’s purported feelings of anger and hurt.
I barely managed to drag myself through the book but Caroline’s helpless act was intriguing. How far would she take it, I would ask myself and how much further would Valente allow himself to be taken in and humiliated. Pretty darn far. I guess from that standpoint, there is a certain genius in the story. D
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I don’t get the obsession with virgins. Okay, it makes sense in the historicals, but in contemporaries it’s just silly.
Hahahaha!!! I love me some Lynne Graham but this was truly awful.
I keep buying her books because well, I like the ridiculous I guess. Maybe I keep hoping she’ll live up to her really jealous and possessive males of years ago.
@Sarah – I like a good Lynne Graham book but this was particularly toothless story with the mealy mouthed heroine and the hero who was out for revenge but happy to marry and have a baby with the despised heroine.
Books like this are why I’m afraid to buy categories.
@TKF – as someone joked at RT, my passion for category books and the Harlequin Presents series in particular are one of the worst kept secrets in blogland. There are bad ones and good ones, just as there are in any subgenre. However, there is a certain paradigm within the HPs. Uber alpha males, usually sexualy inexperienced heroines, and exotic locales. I think that the contrast between the male and females are done intentionally to evoke the same response.
The thing that the HPs deliver on, almost consistently, is a short but agnst filled read. I don’t know why others read the HP series, but the reason that I do is because I know that in a short time frame I can be delivered a little emotional high. Plus there is no better grovel given that at the end of an HP.
But, if you aren’t a fan of the agnsty read or elements of the paradigm don’t suit your reading tastes, then I wouldn’t suggest randomly picking up HP books.
Having said that, the lines are very distinct. For example, I find that Harlequin Superromances are much more like a main stream mass market contemporary. These books focus a lot on character growth as well as the romance and often deal with serious issues.
Harlequin Blaze is more contemporary but not necessarily more sexual. (I find that the HPs are some of the most steamy Harlequin reads outside the spice line).
This is the key to an alphole hero. It's why he exists.
@Jane: I’m glad that I live in the UK where the Presents are divided into Modern and Modern Heat. I find there is a huge difference between the two – not just in terms of how much sex there is, but also in terms of the kinds of characters and implausibility levels. Greek billionaires are Modern, British businessmen who I can imagine having known at university are Modern Heat; shy virgins are Modern, competent confident women with their own career are Modern Heat; ridiculous revenge plots or forced marriages are Modern, ordinary, if complicated, relationships are Modern Heat. And so on.
Incidentally, I am still wondering how the Greek economy can have got into such a bad state. Surely there are enough billionaires there to bail the government out without raising an eyebrow?
@Jane: If Harlequin Presents (with the uber alphas and super meek virgins) doesn’t appeal… What Harlequin lines would you recommend, that have more balanced hero and heroine personalities?
I had always thought that all Harlequins, whatever the line, were pretty much variations on the wealthy strong man/doormat heroine theme.
@Bianca – definitely Blaze, harlequin Supers, Silh Intimate Moments, and Harlequin American Romance. I will say that the men usually have economic stability in most stories (but that’s a genre wide trope).
Even the summary sounds convoluted. I’m all for the category – bring it on! But, sometimes authors should just cool it down – If you have to make up plots like THIS, then maybe you should be spending more time processing them before getting them published.
Agreed on the Presents, though. I don’t have access to many, but the alpha hero is a biggie for me. And I can usually look past some asshole moments if it’s really good. And the sex really is steamy. Blaze has just as much, but it focuses more on modernized, fun sex rather than the angst ridden passion we see in Presents. ^^
Sounds like I should stalk Amazon.uk for the Modern Heat insight . . . thanks for the tip!
I don’t get what the deal is with virgins and Harlequin Presents. I just finished one in which the husband she left returned to insist she continue their marriage. He berated her, called her a slut and generally treated her like garbage all because she wasn’t a virgin when he married her, like he thought. GMAB. HE wasn’t a virgin either, but of course, that’s totally acceptable. I’m reading books I got from a relative because there’s no way I’d shell out $$ for Harlequin Presents anymore. It used to be my favorite line and now I hate it because the “heroes” generally treat the women like garbage….all in the name of “love”.
Well I know of one Lynne Graham book where the h was not a virgin, she had the baby and met the H when his limo hit her and stroller.
Graham is a guilty pleasure for me also, but she is really getting repetitious in her books..
Hero meet h, he is attracted to her only as mistress material.
They sleep together, he thinks she worldly, she’s not she is a virgin,
That first night together begets a small babe, she either runs away and her finds her and blackmails her into marriage
Or she tells him and he blackmails her into marriage.
@ TKF :
Please, please, please DO NOT judge any/all category books by the drivel, IMNSHO, that is/are Harlequin Presents.
One of my favourite Harlequin Presents books is Lucy Monroe’s Blackmailed into Marriage. The heroine isn’t a virgin…and the hero, is (I think) an alpha, but sensitive. And, oh wonders of wonders, the hero & heroine communicate!
I also really liked that the author raised an issue dealt with very rarely (if ever) in romance novels.
@ Orannia, that sounds like it could be a refreshing, interesting book, thanks for the tip!
@Jane: Thanks for the recs, Jane. I will definitely give those lines a try.
It’s not the economic stability that I mind so much as the hero/heroine power imbalances, which seem to drive a lot of the Harlequin Presents characterizations. It’s just not my cuppa. ;)
Lynne Graham is an author who is very much hit and miss with me. I loved her earlier titles – A Savage Betrayal, Bond of Hatred, Indecent Deception to name but a few, but have found some of her latest titles to be somewhat lacking. Maybe it’s to do with how prolific she has become in the last few years? She’s already published three books in 2010 and doubtlessly has more planned for this year.
There are oher Presents authors who don’t necessarily follow the traditional patterns. I recommend Catherine George, Helen Brooks, India Grey and Anne McAllister.
As for other lines worth reading, I think the Harlequin Romance line is vastly underrated. There are some terrific books being published there which often get overlooked.
Yes this! ::chuckle::
thx for the giggle Ros!
@Julie: Yes, I second India Grey. The books she writes never fit the blurb they put on them, but in a good way. The ones I’ve read have been much more complex.
I’ve had more luck with Blaze and Superromances, where I’ve found some real keepers. I only venture into Presents if someone recommends one to me.
RE the virgins in romance comment.
Yes, it sure is overused. I'm sure Christine Feehan is the worst offender. But at the same time, if done well, I like it.
Why? Because it’s not as unusual as you might think. Or, perhaps, more often it’s women who’ve had some bad experience and then have gone some time since they’ve had anything to do with a man.
Okay – in anonymous land, here I go. I was very badly treated by a man, and went EIGHT YEARS without so much as kissing someone. I get very offended by all these women who do the ‘oh, no women today don’t have sex’ claims, because I know for a fact it is not true. And, if you want to go further, have a look at all the websites and blogs started by women who have never been in a relationship. Scoffing at them is downright nasty.
I love reading about women discovering a good man after some time, because it’s like reading my life!
Have a look at how Pamela Clare handles this subject in Hard Evidence and Naked Edge. Fantastic, brilliant books.
@Rebecca – if you do read it, I’d love to know what you think.
@fhgk – and then there are all the women who experience sexual dysfunction disorders and avoid sex altogether. I’ll look up the Pamela Clare books – thank you!
For me it’s not the fact that the heroine is a virgin that bugs, because yes I know many women are virgins into their 20s, or they choose not to have sex for various reasons and that’s cool. In contemporaries I have no trouble excepting virgin heroines–I even wrote one myself recently. It’s the way the HP line tends to treat virginity as a commodity that bothers me, as though a women with an intact hymen is somehow a person more worthy of love than one without, and any woman who has previously had sex is ripe for verbal abuse and only worthy of ‘mistress’ status. It’s the whole madonna/whore thing–can’t a woman be portrayed as something in between??
Just my 2c, and why I went off the HP line years ago. I still read a lot of category though, mostly Blaze and Superromance, which I find the most satisfying reads.
The thing that’s driving me nuts about virgin heroines is the (mis)placement of the hymen. I’m sick of “he pushed inside her, stretching her until he reached her barrier…”
Note to authors:- the hymen is at the entrance to the body not inside it!
Virgins, ahhh virgins, yes they’re back in fashion. I don’t have a problem with them if they’re handled well (so to speak.) There’s also a trend toward ‘nearly virgins’ heroines who’ve never had an orgasm. Heidi Rice wrote about one (can’t remember the title) and did a good job with her.
India Grey is brilliant, love her. Have a look at Trish Wylie an Irish author, funny sexy kick ass heroines with heroes who ask the question ‘why?’ She writes for Presents and Modern Heat and drills down into valid emotional conflict. In His Mistress, His Terms the heroine is not interested in a long-term relationship or marraige, she only wants his body, lol! Even better, it’s funny. He comes from an upper class family and she comes from parents who run courses in Tantric Sex, hilarious – I recommend it!
I’ve wishlisted The Trish Wylie book you recommended Christine – it sounds great!