A Willful Woman…

Thoughts about books from a romance addict.

The Probably-Not-So-Big Harlequin Presents Read #8

Harlequin Presents  #8:  The Sanchez Tradition by Anne Mather

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I’m having trouble making this cover illustration out — are those scenes of local color in the heroine’s hair? Quite beautiful otherwise, though. I don’t know if it always looked so delicate and romantically faded, but like the book itself, it’s worn pretty well.

Most Memorable Line:

“There was a refrigerated cabinet for drinks, hi-fi equipment, and a portable Japanese television set.”

The world depicted in Harlequin Presents usually bears no resemblance to any I ever knew, but this actually brought up a sense of zeitgeist. 🙂

I was a little surprised that the recent digitizing of Anne Mather’s backlist went this far back… but aside from a touch of casual racism, and Andre yanking Rachel by her hair, (!) this hasn’t aged badly at all. Its primary difference from more recent HPs is the closed bedroom door, the large cast of characters, and the heroine’s constant smoking. (Don’t worry, she cuts back when pregnant!)

The romance is one of those tumultuous relationships in which the hero is controlling and the heroine is childish, and they never really work out their problems, but there’s a sense of underlying passion that keeps it interesting.

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The Probably-Not-So-Big Harlequin Presents Read #13

Harlequin Presents #13: A Kiss from Satan

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Trigger warnings may be redundant when discussing old Harlequins, but just in case: warning for domestic violence

Best line: “‘I must admit that until a short while ago, I hadn’t given much thought to the idea of marriage–‘ He broke off and for one fleeting second his lips curved in contempt. ‘A man doesn’t really need to these days – when women are so cheap.'”

Notes of interest: This may be the first Greek Tycoon. The bedroom door is so firmly shut, we miss the first month of their marriage. But we do get to witness the hero shaking the heroine until she’s almost unconscious, as punishment for ordering him around. Lucky us.

~~

As I read this, I half expected D’Hoffryn to appear to recruit our heroine Gale as a vengeance demon. After being cheated on by her fiance, Gale has deliberately become a femme fatale, trying to punish all men for being the rotten beasts they are. She’d like Greek hunk Julius to be her next victim, but unfortunately he sees through her right away.

I’m not sure which next parts of the plot I found weirder:

— that after narrowly escaping being raped by Julius, Gale not only stays in the house alone with him, but cooks them both breakfast. (Addendum 7/11/14:  some further thoughts on this.)

— that Gale agrees to marry Julius because her mother threatens to leave Gale’s philanderer father for another man if she doesn’t.

— that Gale’s mother was actually in a conspiracy with Julius.

Like Hampson’s last HP, Waves of Fire, this had a tendency towards long pauses in the action. Something dramatic happens, then the hero leaves and nothing else happens for a long time. I rather missed that when the shaking began. It had been a pretty good read until then — Gale’s interactions with her family are interesting — but that was so upsetting, I almost quit the book. There was no reason for me to be glad I continued; there aren’t even any repercussions from the shaking… in fact, she apologizes to him at the end!

I’m not sure I can face the next Anne Hampson.

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