by Julia James, contemporary (2014)
Harlequin Mills & Boon, £3.49, ISBN 978-0-263-90826-8
Securing The Greek's Legacy has - what else? - a Greek billionaire tycoon. Our hero Anatole Telonidas has a grieving grandfather to deal with. Timon Petranakos, you see, gave his grandson Marcos (Anatole's cousin) a sports car on the man's birthday recently and Marcos drove all the way into a fatal car crash.
In addition to an old man who has since refused cancer treatment because he wants to join his grandson, Anatole also has to deal with the problem of succession in Timon's company. Timon now has no heir, and the business would be passed on to a middle-aged relative who has no interest or acumen for the business. Anatole fears that the family business would die out with Timon.
Maybe it's fate, but Anatole soon discovers that Marcos had a child out of wedlock. That boy is under the care of schoolteacher Lyn Brandon, the now dead sister of the boy's mother. Hearing about his great-grandson has already brought Timon out of his depression, and Anatole decides that he must bring the boy back to Greece to meet Timon. He is willing to do everything to facilitate this, even marrying Lyn.
This is a pretty standard Harlequin Presents or Modern line - depending on which country this book is published in - story line, and there is nothing out of the ordinary, or predictable, about it. The villains are standard and the plot developments are as expected. Nothing here would give Granny a heart attack, in other words.
However, there is a shocking thing here: Anatole is easily one of the most understanding and gentlemanly hero to grace any romance novel, not just a Presents or Modern book. He is very self aware, and he is very patient with the heroine, going as far as to ask her permission and her thoughts in many things. Let me put it this way: there are reviews out there where unhappy readers accuse Anatole of being "feminist propaganda" due to his beta hero ways, so if you really, really like your alpha males, like 56-year old Angela quoted on this book, there is a possibility that Anatole may bore you. I personally find him a bit bland, because he doesn't have much of a personality aside from catering to both his grandfather and Lyn, but it's a refreshing kind of blandness because he's just so... sane.
On the other hand, there is Lyn. Oh boy, this is the first time I come across a heroine who isn't just too stupid for words, I think she is actually mentally unhinged. She is not financially sound, and, in fact, she is not even the legal guardian of little Georgy, but from the moment she meets Anatole, she is all, "No! No! The baby is MINE! YOU CAN'T TOUCH HIM! DON'T EVEN LOOK AT HIM! MINE ALL MINE!" Seriously, her entire reason for wanting to keep Georgy is not because Anatole is an awful man (he is willing to come up with an arrangement that can faciliate her presence in Georgy's life) but because her sister left her the baby so Georgy is now Lyn's. If I take a drink every time Lyn insists that Georgy is "hers", my liver would explode by midpoint of this book.
It doesn't help that every utterance from Lyn mouth ends with an exclamation mark. I started reading Julia James's books because I initially confused her with Julie James, but I thought back then that the author had a nice, elegant way with words. This story, however, seems like it was by Jayne Ann Krentz back in the 1980s. Every other sentence ends with an exclamation mark, especially the lines uttered by the heroine. The heroine is already stubborn, unreasonable, and shrill. The exclamation marks make Lyn look totally histrionic.
Lyn also just has to be supremely irritating to follow. She lets everyone bully her, but accuses Anatole of shady motives when he's nice to her and stands up for her. Every time Lyn decides to do something, it's either she bursting into tears or coming up with some hilariously stupid decision. She is very gullible too - the bad guys don't have to do much to string her along and prod her into doing what they want of her. Nothing about her feels right or even sane. Lyn is always "on" as a hysterical harpy unable to make any sensible decision and is at the verge of a nervous breakdown, which goes a long way in assuring me that she is not to right person to mother any living creature. By page 80, I want to murder her for being so obnoxious and stupid. By the last page, I want to run her down with my car and then beat her corpse with a baseball bat a few dozen times for good measure before pouring gasoline on it and flicking a match at it.
It's odd, I know, how a book can have a very nice hero and a very obnoxious heroine at the same time. They cancel out one another, resulting in a badly written book full of annoying exclamation marks and tired plot threads. The heroine is really toxic, however, making this one more hazardous to the blood pressure when compared a typical badly-written effort.
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