Monday, May 10, 2010

The Wealthy Greek's Contract Wife

Ilios Manos, the wealthy greek of the title, needs a wife to prevent his cousin Tino from claiming their ancestral home. English interior designer Elizabeth (Lizzie) Wareham has looked after her two younger sisters and her two nephews after the death of her parents six years ago. Ilios offers to ignore the debt Lizzie inadvertently owes him, as well as give her £100,000 if she agrees to marry him for as long as it takes for Tino to back off.

Ahh yes, another "Blackmailed Into Marriage" story. It never ceases to amaze me how many reasons wealthy men can come up with to blackmail women into marrying them, and how easily the women in question are coerced. I guess the idea is that these women have too much integrity to be seduced by the men's billions or undeniable sex appeal, and therefore need some other inducement. It's generally imperative for the reader to not look too deeply into the reason for the marriage or the blackmail employed, because they are flimsy and not really believable. The Wealthy Greek Contract's Wife is no exception. Apparently Tino wishes to challenge Ilios' right to inherit the family home due to the fact that he isn't married and has no heirs. I seriously doubt Tino has any hope at all of winning, and Ilios' lawyers agree, though they warn Ilios against a lengthy drawn out legal battle. Considering the fact that Ilios is a billionaire whilst his cousin is practically bankrupt, I think it's clear that Tino is the one who can't afford the dispute, not Ilios. Lizzie gets mixed up with Ilios when a client offers her 20% ownership of an apartment block she was hired to decorate, in lieu of payment. Unbeknownst to her, not only was this apartment block built illegally and fraudulently, but under the partnership agreement she is also liable for the debts of the whole partnership. I find it hard to believe that Lizzie's solicitor would have advised her to accept an agreement like this; who accepts 100% liability for only 20% ownership? Ilios sends a threatening legal letter to Lizzie demanding her presence in Thessalonica to deal with undisclosed legal and financial matters. Instead of calling her lawyer, or calling Ilios or his lawyer, she flies out with no idea what is going on... I wondered if she had ever heard of a telephone, but it turns out she has a mobile. Lizzie and Ilios agree to marry, yet there's no mention of a pre-nuptial agreement which I find hard to swallow considering how deliberate and calculating Ilios is. Anyway, if you can suspend your disbelief over the setup of the plot, this was a good read.

Ilios grew up without any love but with a strong sense of duty. Unlike many heroes, he is not cruel and arrogant, and he isn't a serial womaniser. In fact, he hasn't had sex in over a year. It's so refreshing to have a Greek tycoon hero who doesn't have a string of mistresses to make the heroine's life hell. The only time Ilios is cruel is right at the end when he says some nasty things in the heat of the moment to create the conflict that makes him admit his love. Cheesy yes, but acceptable under the circumstances, and he regrets it almost immediately.

Lizzie was nice, too. She is a genuinely loving person and doesn't play any weird games with Ilios. She does have a couple clichéd romance heroine responses to things namely

  1. Upon realising her love for Ilios, Lizzie "realises" that she must never let him know;
  2. Upon finding out she is pregnant, Lizzie decides she wants to go from the "Blackmailed Into Marriage" plot to the "Secret Baby" plot. She doesn't want to tell Ilios that she is pregnant, but would rather go home to her sisters and raise her baby secretly.
Nevertheless, I actually liked Lizzie. She's just nice and refreshingly honest with Ilios about her desire for him and we have none of that annoying, "I hate him but I want him" angst so often seen in other heroines.

Overall, I recommend this book. I liked the characters and it was an enjoyable way to pass the time.

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