A Willful Woman…

Thoughts about books from a romance addict.

The Probably-Not-So-Big Harlequin Presents Read #22

CW: Rape. In an Anne Hampson book, shocking I know.


Harlequin Presents #22: The Hawk and the Dove by Anne Hampson

Image description: The book cover shows the head and shoulders of a young woman with long, straight blonde hair, wearing a childish wide-brimmed hat, against elaborately decorated glass doors.

Deliberate Anne of Green Gables vibe in this cover?

Most memorable line: 

“You’ve shown me by every conceivable means that you consider me far beneath you.” Janis felt she’d grown up since yesterday and a note of experience and maturity entered into her voice. “But however ill-bred I may be,” she went on, “If I despised anyone half as much as you despise me, I would at least have the good manners not to show it.”

Finally, the worm turns! Annoyingly, it turns right back again!

I was finally able to download The Hawk and the Dove from Open Library, and though the scan is utterly dreadful, I got sufficiently emotionally involved in the story to put up with it. Like many old HPs, it shows a strong Rebecca influence, though hero Perry was never married. The resemblance is mainly in their relationship: Janis is adoring, and as soppy as Con Firth’s shirt; Perry veers between scorn and indulgence. He’s deeply nasty at times; that and the huge power differential between them keep TSTL Janis from being utterly unbearable.

Janis, wrongly fired from her job, is downtroddingly trying to find shelter when Perry’s car crashes into her. He sees an opportunity to fulfil the terms of his uncle’s will, which require him to marry within a week. (His fiance had turned out to have been in cahoots with the alternate heir…  so of course he hates all women now. Except his dead mother and his former nurse and his female best friend.)

Perry intends to annul the marriage after Janis is fully healed from her injuries, but manages to make this as clear as mud to Janis, who thinks he’s waiting to consummate the marriage. By the time she realizes the truth, of course she’s fallen in love with him, and she decides not to immediately reveal that the doctor has cleared her for take off. This will later bite her on the ass, rapey hero style. (Not explicit.)

I was surprised by a subplot of the story: Perry’s friend Avril is in love with John, a married man, and they’re constantly together. This isn’t treated with any hint of scandalousness or shock — perhaps because they’re both upper class?

Although I found a lot to critique, I was absorbed. The estate setting, which Janis completely falls in love with, is well done, and the secondary characters are mostly likeable. And classic HP angst. Basically, if you enjoy this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing you’ll enjoy.




Review: In the Arms of a Marquess by Katherine Ashe

What tickled me: Honest, forthright heroine. Though I’d have liked it more if everyone wasn’t always telling her how honest and forthright she is.

What ticked me off: Pretty stereotypical depiction of India and Indians. On the other hand, racism comes into the plot in an interesting way.

Who might like it: Readers looking for an undemanding Regency that isn’t frothy.

I’m not quite sure why this was on my TBR — probably because my friend Janet W gave it 4 stars. It does have one of my favorite tropes, Separated Lovers, Big Misunderstanding, but then it has a mystery element. A mystery in a Regency romance is like a roach in my pudding, but this wasn’t too bad as they go.

Ben and Tavy fell in love in India, but their relatives came between them, convincing Tavy that Ben was just playing with her and Ben that Tavy was fetishizing him because he’s half Indian. (Something that apparently happens to him quite a lot.) Seven years pass, and Tavy comes back to England with her family, expecting to make a respectable marriage. But she can’t avoid Ben, now a Marquess since the mysterious death of his family.

Tavy is very likeable. She’s kind of a lonely soul, missing her life in India terribly, and with much of her adventurous spirit tamped down by heartbreak. She’s trying to make a life for herself as best she can, and she’s not an idiot about it, for the most part. Unfortunately, this kind of emphasizes how douchey Ben is. He doesn’t do anything all that terrible by romance hero standards, but considering she was only 18 to his 23 when they fell in love, I think he could have given her some benefit of the doubt.

But there’s a lovely yearning between them. The writing is standard for this kind of story, albeit slightly odd at times, but the romance works. I’m not sure I’d ever be driven to read Ashe again, but there’s an interesting secondary character, the former fiance of Ben’s dead brother, and I might check her book out.

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