A Willful Woman…

Thoughts about books from a romance addict.

The Probably-Not-So-Big Harlequin Presents Read #20

2592790Harlequin Presents #20: A Distant Sound of Thunder by Anne Mather

Note: This post will be a bit spoilery, but no more so than most of the GoodReads reviews.

Best line: (I guess it wouldn’t be fair to include the “creaming lagoon” line.)

“What did she [the heroine’s employer] think she had seen this morning? What imagined construction had she put upon those moments when she was in Piers’ arms? Did she believe that their lovemaking had exceeded the bounds of what was right and what was wrong?”

Notes of interest: Mather begins her notorious envelope pushing, with a heroine who first gets involved with a married man, and then with his son! (Unknowingly and fairly chastely both times, of course. But give Mather a few years…) Rebecca is also illegitimate and it’s not a plot point.

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I was especially eager to read this one — even going out of order — because the cover is actually familiar to me. Although it didn’t ring a bell otherwise, I do find it interesting that this is the first of the project reads that really feels like the Harlequin Presents I know and love. I think that the prose style has become more informal and immediate, the physical interaction are definitely more sensual, and though there are a greater number of secondary characters than you’d find in a more modern HP and some foreign descriptions, the focus stays on the relationship and the drama. Whatever the reason, despite a rather dull beginning in which the heroine is tediously frightened about her feelings for the hero, I actually cared about how this one would come out!

I think naming the heroine “Rebecca” must have been either deliberate or perhaps subconscious, because the opening of the book is rather iconic: heroine in service to a cantankerous, demanding older woman meets mysterious widower. (Or so she thinks.) The plot and characters depart quite sharply after that though, and it’s mostly a story about two lovers destroyed by the malicious schemings of a stereotypically bitter and twisted disabled person. (Our second villain in a wheelchair.) Here’s her after spying on them making out:

“Oh, yes, miss.” Adele’s face was contorted with triumph. “Yes, I watched you, and it’s given me a new lease on life, believe me!”

Oh, she is so deliciously awful.

Making out is as far as it goes, but Mather is moving us beyond kisses. Apparently arms were the hottest thing going in 1973: In order not to be too attractive, Rebecca wears a caftan that “hid the rounded countours of her arms.” This was a smart move, because sure enough, the first time Piers get her alone, “his fingers curved round her upper arm” and “he bent his head and put his his mouth against her arm, caressing it insistently.” This before they’ve even kissed.

The plotting is a touch confusing at times, but I enjoyed this one because Piers isn’t a total asshole and/or mystery. Even without point-of-view, we can tell that he cares, and that his assholish moments are because he cares. He’s a prince compared to pretty much ever other hero I’ve read so far, and as I said, for the first time I was really caught up in seeing this romance work out. Yay!

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The Probably-Not-So-Big Harlequin Presents Read #14

 

storm

Harlequin Presents #14: Storm in a Rain Barrel by Anne Mather

The heroine looks just about as pouty in that picture as she acts.

Best line: “He was probably terribly sophisticated and ‘with-it” and would use all those awful exaggerated adjectives she had heard artists use at the local coffee bar…”

Notes of interest: Heavy petting! Unmarried heavy petting! How creepy is it that the most explicit scene in my old HP reading so far is between a 17 year old girl and her 36 year old guardian? Also, there’s an actual spanking scene. No fall and unconsciousness for the heroine this time, although she does get bronchitis.

This is a slightly lugubrious coming-of-age romance. Orphaned Domine has been living in a convent school thanks to the generosity of her Great-Uncle Henry. When he dies, his illegitimate son James takes over her guardianship. (There’s a weird continuity error here — Domine early on ponders about Uncle Henry refusing to acknowledge James, then is shocked to learn James is his son.) James takes her to her uncle’s lonely old house on the moors, Misslethwaite Manor Grey Witches, where she starts to dress and act (and feel) more adult. The antagonistic interactions between her and James are pretty immature and unsatisfying though, even with the unexpected boob action.

I was amused by this scene between Domine and the inevitable Nice Boy who wants to marry her:

“Love is being with someone, sharing life with them. Sharing troubles as well as happiness!”

Domine half-smiled. So that was Vincent’s definition of love. Well, it was vastly different from her own.

“I think what you’re talking about is liking one another,” she murmured unhappily. “Loving’s altogether different. Loving is needing someone so desperately that you wonder how you can live without them. Love is like a fire in the blood that burns you up with its intensity!”

“That’s infatuation!” exclaimed Vincent chillingly.

Vincent is depicted of something of a ridiculous mama’s boy, but I’d say he’s right on the money here, and quite a lot of evidence agrees with him.

 

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The Probably-Not-So-Big Harlequin Presents Read: #3

Harlequin Presents #3: Sweet Revenge by Anne Mather

revenge

I’m pretty sure I never read this one as a teen, because how could I possibly forget that cover? Though my aesthetic sensibilities were quite different then, as you will see if we ever get to Harlequin Presents #158.

So, just 3 books into the Harlequin Presents series, and we already have the start of a bingo card:

— Exotic locale = local color + cultural insensitivity

— A meet-dangerous, in which the hero almost runs the heroine over.

— A dark, foreign hero to fetishize. Also rich and titled.

— A heroine who Just Can’t Understand why all the boys want her.

— The hero immediately accuses the heroine of flirting with the guy who was stalking her.

— The Evil Former Wife made the hero cynical about women.

— The hero is almost 40, the heroine is in her early twenties.

— Slap!

— The hero doesn’t reveal anything of his true feelings until a burst of logorrhea at the end.

A surprise: The heroine calls the Evil Other Woman a bitch.

I found this one pretty boring. The heroine loses her job as a nanny because the children’s father comes on to her. (I have a sudden yen to read Pamela.) She then agrees to pretend to be the fiance of an old acquaintance she happens to run into in Portugal. But his uncle the Conde turns out to be the hot guy who had almost run her down earlier. He finds out who she is, believes her employer’s assertion that she tried to seduce him, and to punish her… for something… makes her stay… as his daughter’s governess… where she spends most of her time hanging out on the beautiful beach. Anyone who wants to punish me in that way, just give a ring.

 

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