by Susanne James, contemporary (2008)
Harlequin Mills & Boon, £2.99, ISBN 978-0-263-86479-3
The Millionaire's Chosen Bride is a pretty dated story in a way because of the values of the heroine and the writing style. I feel as if I've been transported back in time to the early 1980s while reading this one.
Melody Forester, our heroine, is one of those unhappy women who, after getting a small taste of success in her career, realizes that what she really wants in life is love and all that. So here she is, successfully bidding on Gatehouse Cottage in an auction when she is supposed to be on a holiday. She loves the cottage, you see, and it appeals to her for reasons she cannot fully comprehend. Of course, we all know that a quaint cottage always complements the heroine's glowing ovaries that act as a neon sign telling the virile billionaire hero that she is a "true good woman" ready to be impregnated and kept in the kitchen so that she will know the true meaning of female contentment. At any rate, she beats our hero, the millionaire Adam Carlisle, in the auction, which is how she first meets that guy.
While Adam is willing to embark on an affair with her because Melody, whom the author helpfully points out is a "female", appeals to his "male instincts". However, he is also willing to pre-judge Melody as one of those corporate assholes who will turn the Cottage into something that will appeal only to rich people and leave the poor locals out to dry. Not that Adam includes himself in the group of Rich Asshole People that he lumps Melody in, of course. So he's a presumptuous twat who tells Melody on the first date that he believes her to be some kind of corporate whore but he's willing to do her. He's the hero because Ms James says so, so who am I to disagree, eh?
Still, Melody will spend time behaving like the most generous earth mother kind to the staff and the locals, so Adam will eventually decide that while he's willing to have sex with her, the fact that she fits the cliché of the traditional home-and-hearth wife-with-hot-body stereotype of the romance heroine qualifies her as worthy of being his wife. I feel so happy for Melody, I want to cry, I tell you. Melody does have her moments where she calls Adam on his crap, but her shows of defiance are weak ones. This one conforms to the antiquated gender stereotypes of the genre through and through.
The writing is also pretty awkward to read because Ms James is fond of using exclamation marks here. Think of Jayne Ann Krentz's very early books for Silhouette. Ms James is slightly better than Ms Krentz back in those days in that Ms James shows a little bit more restraint when it comes to ending sentences with the exclamation mark, but there are still many of them here. It creates the effect that the characters in this story are so easily startled or shocked.
I find The Millionaire's Chosen Bride a very predictable and therefore not too interesting read. It feels more dated than anything else, really. I suspect that if you fancy yourself a hip and trendy modern woman, you're better off reading a Harlequin Blaze. Save this one for the great-grandmother.
This book at Amazon UK
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