Monday, June 08, 2015

What I've Read Lately: Harlequin Presents

This week, I'm super excited to be on The Worst Bestsellers talking about The Greek Tycoon's Blackmailed Mistress by Lynne Graham. (Spoiler Alert: I didn't like it.) In preparation for the episode, I read a lot of Harlequin Presents titles, and a I really did like most of them (heightening my dismay with a certain Greek Tycoon.) I will definitely be reading more and also highly recommend this Pictorial Jezebel article on the history of Harlequin.

Ruthless Billionaire, Forbidden Baby Emma Darcy

This was great. Tamalyn is a midwife and meets Fletcher at a college friend's wedding (he's her brother). They're both in the wedding party and have to walk together. They then meet up again at another wedding and hook up. Fletcher is a young hot tech billionaire and when he's in town, he and Tamalyn get together. And then she gets pregnant. He insists they marry, because if their kid is a child prodigy like him, he wants what he never had--someone around who understands how alienating it can be. She rolls with it and they get along but they aren't in love. Until they are.

I liked this one because the conflict wasn't avoidable--it was more just learning how to mesh personalities and be a team. The marriage of convenience didn't come with any stipulations and Fletcher was an alpha, but not an asshat.

Pretender to the Throne Maisey Yates

Loved this one. (And I realized it was in a series, and bought the rest of the series so I could read it because I wanted mooooooooooooooooooore.) It's time for Xander, the playboy prince, to return home and lead his country. He really doesn't want to for REASONS. (I'm not sure if they're spoilery reasons, of if it was a bit of a mystery because I was coming in at book 3 of a series. Anyway, they're legit reasons.) But he does, and the first thing he does is find Layna, his ex-fiance. He needs her help if he's going to make this work. However, she's been living at a convent, because after he left, she was horribly disfigured in an acid attack and has hidden away ever since, and other REASONS.

So, I loved this one because they treated their engagement and relationship very much like a partnership for the good of the country, with the hopes of maybe turning into something real. They both knew what they were getting into and there weren't illusions. I also really liked them as characters--they both have a lot of heavy stuff in their past that's weighing them down (there are a lot of repercussions to the acid attack, and the event that made Xander leave in the first place had a lot of lasting impact on the kingdom in general). I really like that they both need each other in order to work through they're issues--it's a very equal relationship in that they're both healing each other, which was nice. I also love the fact that Xander's self-aware enough to know when he's being an ass. Sometimes he doesn't care, but he still realizes he's doing it. Really excited to read the others in the series.

Secrets of a Bollywood Marriage Susanna Carr.

Tina and Dev's marriage was a big deal in Bollywood, but Tina's been away for several months and now she's back, asking for divorce. Dev needs to present a stable home life, so if she acts like they're still an item for 2 months (which, because the servants will talk, involves sharing a bed, but nothing has to happen in the bed) he'll give her the divorce and minimize the scandal.

Overall, I loved this one. I loved that it looks at the pain of miscarriage and how it really hurt their relationship. I love how Tina wasn't ashamed of seeking the mental health help she needed. I liked the look at the workings of Bollywood film industry and how Tina wasn't afraid to demand what she wanted and needed. Dev makes a few missteps (including a big lie I'm not keen on, even if the plot hinges on it) but overall, yes, I really liked this one a lot.

A Prize Beyond Jewels Carole Mortimer.

This one I didn't like as much. Rafe is a gallery owner playboy who never has any problems with the ladies, so why is Nina always resisting him? Nina's father is super over-protective so what little she does give Rafe is a major rebellion.

Part of the reason I didn't like this as much is writing quality-- it's really repetitive, so I kept thinking I was reading the same page over and over, even though I wasn't. Rafe often crosses into asshat territory and while Nina had some real meat to her character, Rafe just didn't. Also, so much of Nina's reluctance stems on THE GREAT FAMILY MYSTERY (instead of Rafe's asshattyness) and then it's all revealed in this big rush and eh. It just didn't work for me.

All Books Provided by... my local library

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