Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Marchese's Love-Child

Polly Fairfax left Alessandro Valessi three years ago, believing that he didn't love her. Unbeknownst to either of them, she was pregnant at the time. When he finds out, he coerces her into marriage with him or risk losing custody of their son Charlie.

Books like this are enough to turn me completely off category romances. In fact they often do stop me reading them for a while, but then I'll pick up one of the few really great ones that manage to keep me hooked. It's not so much that the book is bad, but there are just so many little things that really irritate me.

  1. When a complete stranger shows up claiming to have been sent by Sandro to threaten/bribe her into leaving him, Polly believes him without question. Even though they are supposedly in love and planning on getting married, she's too proud to confront him and find out the truth.
  2. When Sandro, whom Polly believes to be involved with the Mafia, shows up unexpectedly and threatens to take Charlie away from her, Polly basically does nothing. She does not run to protect her son. She allows Julie, a complete stranger in Sandro's employ, take her son out of the room. I guarantee that under the same circumstances I would not be letting my child out of arm's reach, let alone out of my sight in the care of someone I didn't trust implicitly.
  3. Polly's mother is a cow, and never really brought to account for her behaviour. She has no adequate reason for keeping Sandro's letters from Polly three years ago, especially in light of Polly's pregnancy. Her excuse that she feared Charlie would be taken away from her simply does not gel, considering the letters began before he was born when she herself wanted Polly to have an abortion. Not only that, she even read the letters. And let's not even get into how she has been trying to steal Charlie away from Polly to make him her own son.
  4. Sandro knows that his father bribed and intimidated Polly into leaving. He knows that her mother kept his letters from her. In fact, Sandro holds all the cards, but for some obscure reason of his own never tells Polly the truth of what happened. This doesn't even begin to make sense. Furthermore, how can it have taken him 3 years to find her, when he knew her name and place of employment, and was even able to write letters to her (and obviously expected her to have received them)?
  5. Finally my last complaint is what completely ruined the book for me: Sandro's mistresses of which he admits there have been several. Maybe that's why it took him so long to track Polly down? I absolutely hate this fairly prevalent concept in romance novels that whilst the heroine is expected to remain faithfully celibate to a man who doesn't want her, it's perfectly normal, acceptable, and even healthy, for the hero to sleep around with a plethora of sexual partners. I'm not talking about encounters prior to meeting the heroine, but rather during their "estrangement". (Those of you who remember "Friends" might recall Ross excusing cheating on Rachel because they were "on a break".) Of course these sexual encounters are purely physical and unsatisfactory, which makes it all right (rolls eyes). Ugh. There was no need to include this in this story at all, and it if had been excluded I may have been able to overlook the other things I have mentioned. As it is, this was simply the last straw.
Overall this book left a bad taste in my mouth and I wish I could remove it completely from my memory. Ugh, ugh, ugh.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Price of Passion

Kate Crawford and Drake Daniels have been lovers for two years, but have never had an official or exclusive relationship. She discovers that she is pregnant, but is unsure how to break the news to Drake.

Susan Napier often produces very enjoyable romances, and this is no exception. The characters are cute, and the dialogue amusing. I loved the way Kate dealt with Drake's supposed mistress, and I loved the fact that though they have an "open" relationship, Kate and Drake have both been faithful to each other. And let's not forget accidentally packing the cat... This was just a great, fun book to read.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Desert Virgin

Leanna DeMarcos is kidnapped by sex slavers and sold to an evil despot, who in turns gives her to Cameron Knight. Cameron and Leanna escape and fall in love, yadda yadda yadda.

I had high hopes for this story after seeing it's 5 star rating on Amazon. It was awful, awful, awful. Completely ludicrous. Leanna should be traumatised. She is held in captivity for weeks, sold and stripped naked and mauled in front of a group of male strangers. When Cameron meets her, he tears off her bra (in front of the previously mentioned group of strangers), takes her to his room and ties her to his bed. Then we get one of the biggest cliches in romance novels - he thinks she's a slut, but discovers she's a virgin when they have sex. I really don't like this plot device. It always makes me wonder what would happen if she wasn't a virgin, of if he didn't realise. I would much rather the hero realises the heroine isn't a slut, without having to actually have sex with her first. Anyway, upon discovering her "innocence", Cameron withdraws, to which Leanna responds by seducing him. At the end of the book, Cameron is furious with Leanna because he thinks she doesn't love him (after he has totally rejected her and told her he doesn't love her), sneaks into her room in the dark and holds her against the wall by the throat while he (once again) strips her and feels her up. She of course responds by being ecstatically happy to see him. Ugh. Characters like this are why romance novels have a bad reputation. Ludicrous, absolutely ludicrous.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Virgin for Sale

Lisa Bond is trying to make a business deal with Constantine Zagorakis which will save her ailing company. He's playing games, and returns to his island before negotiations are complete. She follows him there to try and convince him, and he agrees to discuss business with her if she stays with him for the week.

This was my first book my Susan Stephens, and I must say it was awful. Other reviewers complained about the spanking scene, but that's not the reason I disliked this. I think the spanking scene was a pretty pathetic attempt to spice up the story. The main problem was simply bad writing. The characters are completely flat and uninteresting. The plot is ridiculous. If you were in business negotiations with someone and they left and were uncontactable by phone/email/fax, why would you presume to follow them overseas and show up uninvited on their doorstep? In what way is this normal, or even mildly acceptable, behaviour in the corporate world?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Duarte's Child

While pregnant, Emily leaves her husband Duarte. Six months later he finally tracks her down and brings her home again.

This is one of my favourite Lynne Graham books. Sure, it's got the requisite manipulating personal assistant with a plan of her own, but the problems between Emily and Duarte are exacerbated, not caused by, Bliss' machinations. Emily develops a backbone, and confronts Duarte, who makes an honest attempt to reform. My only real complaint is Bliss' name. What kind of a name is that? Who names their daughter Bliss?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Borghese Bride

Arianna Cabot and Dominic Borghese have an anonymous one-night stand. She gets pregnant, but since they never actually exchanged names, she can't tell him even if she wanted to. 5 years and an interfering grandmother later, they are re-united and married.

This was my first book by Sandra Marton. My complaints:

1. Dominic refuses to call Jonathan (Arianna's son) by his given name, instead calling him Gianni. Names are important; what kind of man goes around giving nicknames to kids he's just met? I think Arianna has every right to be mad about this, and she capitulated on the issue far too easily. There is nothing unreasonable about wanting people to address your son by the name you gave him.

2. The grandmother's manipulation and lies to get Arianna and Dominic to marry were transparent and annoying. No real reason or explanation was ever given for her actions.

Overall however, I did enjoy this book. Arianna is very angry and upset at the way Dominic forced her to marry him, and he does realise that he behaved incorrectly. The resolution of their relationship spans months rather than weeks, which is much more realistic than many romance novels.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Secret Life of Lady Gabriella

Ellie March is the cleaner/house-sitter hired by Benedict Faulkner's sister to look after his house whilst he is overseas for the next 12 months. He returns unexpectedly and the usual romantic hijinks ensue.

I didn't think I'd like this story at the beginning, as the heroine looked rather annoying. Many romance authors try to make "fiery" heroines who instead turn out to be arrogant and demanding, and I thought Ellie would turn out to be like this. However as the story progresses, she turns out to be quite nice. Just a few things I didn't like:

1. Ellie's guilt over her pretence regarding her "title" with the magazine editor. Why would she offer to return the money she had been paid? There's no reason for her to feel so guilty about the whole thing.

2. Benedict's anger on discovering Ellie's articles. This was so obviously contrived to be the "conflict" that all romance novels require. However, it was completely unbelievable. Why on earth would he get mad at her for it? I can understand being surprised, but why would he feel used and betrayed?

Those two things aside, I enjoyed this book and would recommend it.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Bride's Baby

Sylvie Smith has a one-night stand with Tom Fielding and gets pregnant. She tells him in a letter, which of course he doesn't receive until the end of the story. He thinks the father is her childhood sweetheart, whom he believes she is marrying.

This was my first book by Liz Fielding, and I quite liked it. The characters were mature, believable and likeable, which is a very rare combination in romance novels. Nothing spectacular or particularly memorable about the story, but it was a very enjoyable and relaxing read. No angst or annoying hang-ups, just a pleasant romance.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

What's this all about?

I admit it: I'm addicted to trashy romance novels. The characters annoy me and the plots are generally so thin you can see through them, but somehow I can't stop reading them. I tell myself it's because it's sometimes nice to pick up a quick and easy book that I know will have a happy ending, and that I can finish reading in a couple of hours. There's certainly some truth in that, but I think my addiction goes deeper. Perhaps I'm simply a closet romantic, secretly yearning for some rich, gorgeous, hunk to show up one day and sweep me off my feet. Then again, if it ever were to happen, I probably wouldn't like it. Fantasies should, after all, remain fantasies.

This blog is a place for me to talk about these trashy books I so love to read. They're not really meant to be book reviews, but are simply my reflections and rants. Spoilers will abound I'm sure, but these books rarely have any plot twists that aren't glaringly obvious from the beginning anyway.

So here we go! Welcome to Trashy Reflections!!!