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 #10

#10 Waves of Fire by Anne Hampson

waves

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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