Harlequin Presents #17: Living with Adam by Anne Mather
I’m backtracking a bit to get back into numerical order.
Best line: “I hope you’re not one of the ghastly females who support Women’s Liberation and that sort of thing!” he exclaimed. Typical HP comment, but this may be most notable because it’s spoken by someone who turns out to be a real cad.
Notes of interest: I may faint… he kisses her breast! Only after they’re married, of course. In an actual bedroom scene! I think that’s the most explicit the HPs have gotten so far.
There’s also some hero point of view — including the whole first chapter — though not in the alternating style common now. It begins with the hero in a serious relationship with another woman. There’s a non-specific mention of abortion (one the doctor hero was far too righteous to perform.) And the heroine is his stepsister. Mather is beginning her envelope pushing.
This is somewhat more down-to-earth than previous HPs, and a pretty successful story. Adam and Maria barely know each other, so the step relationship didn’t set off my ick meter. Adam’s quite an angry boner man, but that certainly makes sense in this context. Although they fight a lot as they suppress their attraction, it never crossed the line to bickerfest, somehow.
The weirdest part of the story is Adam’s continued attempt to convince Maria that his relationship with the woman he initially called his mistress is “respectable.” I frankly couldn’t follow these parts at all; perhaps you have to have grown up in the right time period to get what all the fuss is.
The story also takes an odd turn when Adam’s mother appears. Maria’s thoughts about her stepmother are quite positive, but she turns out to be possessive and weirdly class conscious about Maria, which considering that she’s married to Maria’s father makes not one lick of sense. Unless Adam has significantly raised the class standing of the family by becoming a doctor and she wants him to marry up?
I think there could’ve been more focus on why they fall in love, but this holds up better than many an old HP.