A Willful Woman…

Thoughts about books from a romance addict.

TBR Challenge: In Spite of Themselves by Elizabeth Barnes

on January 15, 2014

The theme: A short read. I swear, I tried to find something that wasn’t a Harlequin Presents! But my reading mojo is still off and so I went with this one, which I’ve been reading on and off for the past two weeks. It gave me an impetus to finish, at least.

What tickled my fancy: Different. Nice sexual tension.

What ticked me off: Kind of chickened out at the end.

Who might like it: Readers tired of samey HPs.

This is kind of an oddball book, definitely in the “they don’t write them like that anymore” category. I liked it more than you’d think from the fact that it took me two weeks to finish it. (It’s print, what can I say.)

Anne is very happily under the thumb of Joel, who has took a shy, lonely girl and taught her how to dress and act to impress people; she hasn’t caught on that everything he’s taught her is for his own benefit, not hers. They have one of those conveniently sexless relationships found in older HPs, where for some reason the total heel of an other man never actually takes physical advantage of the heroine.

Nick is one of the people Anne is supposed to impress, and she does it so successfully he asks her to pose as his fake girlfriend, in order to scare off his sister-in-law, the quintessential Evil Other Woman. Anne agrees, just to get money to help Joel. As they have to put on a show of being intimate, they genuinely get the hots for each other, but for a good portion of the book Anne still believes she’s in love with Joel, and for even longer Nick is having trouble resisting Liv. (There’s some whitewashing of this at the end.) It makes for a tense, interesting situation and the writing is quite clever — very little actual description or euphemisms, but nonetheless lots of heat.  I’d give this a B if the ending hadn’t flopped around in an unsatisfying manner.

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