Scandal: Unclaimed Love-Child
by Melanie Milburne, contemporary (2010)
Harlequin Mills & Boon, £3.30, ISBN 978-0-263-87846-2


Don't worry, Scandal: Unclaimed Love-Child is not about some poor baby dumped in the lost and found counter in a supermarket, unwanted by everyone. In fact, this is a standard story of its kind, with it being in the Modern imprint only because the love scenes are a little bit more explicit than the, er, non-modern imprint. It's still the same old story of a rich asshole and a breathless virgin, only with descriptions of the heroine's "plump breasts" and the hero's "thrusting hips", just the way we modern readers love it.

Two years ago, Bronte Bennett gave her precious virginity to Luca Sabbatini. Seriously, I want to know what author Melanie Milburne was having when she came up with names like these for her characters. It could be worse, I guess - Bronte's last name could be McFly. Anyway, with Luca being an alpha Spanish billionaire and Bronte being what she is, these two soon experienced a major breakdown of communication and the thing was over right after Luca's surly sperm forcibly fertilized Bronte's quivering egg.

Today, Bronte the Ballerina runs a studio. Her pregnancy cut short her dreams of dancing in the limelight, and you can probably guess that she never did tell Luca about their daughter. Well, when the story opens, Luca is back. He realizes that he loves her and he wants her back. With the billions at his disposal, he proceeds to wine and dine her... oh, who are we kidding? He buys the building where our heroine's studio is located and tells her that he'd shut her studio down if she didn't consent to sleep with him.

Any other woman may invest money in a tape recorder and get everything on tape in order to sue the man for lots and lots of money, but not Bronte. She wails, protests, and scolds Luca for being a total creep, but she melts inside nonetheless at such mesmerizing display of masculine potency on his part. How can a good woman resist a handsome man who blackmails her into sleeping with him?

Scandal: Unclaimed Love-Child is a pretty typical story for a book of this sort, but it is also a curious book in that the author spends almost two-thirds of the book setting up many reasons why Bronte should not go back to Luca. Bronte herself knows these reasons, and she has no problems listing them down in front of Luca. Even Bronte's mother reasonably points out why Luca will be a terrible father to her daughter based on his past actions. But at the same time, Ms Milburne has Luca justifying his actions by saying that he will do anything to make Bronte his again.

Still, even if the end justify the means, it doesn't hide the fact that Luca is a complete idiot. Even if I were the kind of reader who swoons at the idea of a man so caught up in passion that he has no choice but to abuse his power and money by forcing a woman to have sex with him, Luca's colossal stupidity in this story kills the mood. He claims to love Bronte and wants her back in his life, but he then proceeds to do anything but to show her that he loves her. That idiot also fails to connect the dots until too late that Rachel is his daughter. It makes more sense for him that Bronte would hastily leap into another man's bed and get knocked up right after they broke up, sheesh. I mean, it never enters his head that the daughter may be his! Then again, a smart man would have used his billions to create a most romantic courtship that no woman can resist, instead of blackmailing a woman into sleeping with him, no? Oh, and Luca has an issue unrelated to mental handicap to make his actions seem sympathetic. No, it doesn't work where I am concerned.

Scandal: Unclaimed Love-Child is therefore a very stupid story with implausible scenarios inserted just to allow the author to adhere to the formula of this imprint. And best of all, Ms Milburne knows exactly how stupid her story is. The fact that she then proceeds to have the heroine end up with the hero no matter how stupid she knows the deal to be... well, that makes her a slave to the industry cog or someone who is laughing all the way to the bank.

Rating: 58


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