A Willful Woman…

Thoughts about books from a romance addict.

The Probably-Not-So-Big Harlequin Presents Read #17

Harlequin Presents #17: Living with Adam by Anne Mather

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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.

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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.

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The Probably-Not-So-Big Harlequin Presents Read #10

#10 Waves of Fire by Anne Hampson

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I will likely enjoy this project a lot more when it stops being the same three authors over and over again…

Best line: “What sort of man was this whom she had married? Dark and sinister, a foreigner in whose blood ran the pagan traits of his idol-worshipping forbears, he would crush and subjugate her until she had no will of her own, no personality, no life other than that of a slave, a possession to be used, indifferently laid aside, and used again as this man’s passions and desires dictated.”

Notes of interest: And…. we has sex! Bedroom door painted shut, blink and you’ll miss it, forced seduction aka “tender lovemaking.” Guess which one of these fashions went out of date first. And I think we’ve had the heroine have some kind of accident that renders her unconscious in every book so far.

As you can see from the quote above, this was an uncomfortable read. Shani is thinking stuff like that all the time. Her husband is actually a decent guy by HP standards — we can overlook a little blackmail and forced consummation, right? Because he loves her! — but that doesn’t make the book feel any less racist. I skim-finished, so I suppose it’s possible that Shani wakes up and thinks, holy shit, I can’t believe all those stereotypes I was thinking about Greeks…. but I’m skeptical.

There’s a lot of travelogue, which is a little more narratively interesting than usual because it’s about Cos and the characters are into it because they’re both in the medical field. Then it veers into the adventures of the locals, while Shani and Andreas do pretty much nothing. There’s quite a lot of doing nothing in the book overall, and I’d had enough.

 

 

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