by Anne McAllister, contemporary (2010)
Harlequin Mills & Boon, £3.30, ISBN 978-0-263-87850-9
On the bright side, there is no Greek or Spaniard caveman billionaire in sight in Anne McAllister's Hired By Her Husband. The hero, George Savas, is a working class dude, although granted, he is probably wealthier than your average working class dude. He is neither cruel nor domineering. Unfortunately both he and the wife, Sophy, fail at communication.
George and Sophy were married for a short while about four years ago, mostly to prevent Sophy's brat from bearing the stigma of illegitimacy. Yes, this story is set in 2010, can't you tell? At any rate, both of them flunked grade school social communication, so it isn't long before both, especially Sophy, are trying to upstage the other in playing the victim of their imagined demons. Four years pass, with both of them neither divorcing nor communicating.
When the story opens, Sophy learns that George is critically injured while trying to save some kid from being flattened by a delivery truck. Off she goes to be his nurse, determined to do this out of her sense of obligation - she owes him, after all. Their machismo tango begins all over again. Add in the obligatory "Pregnant! Oh no!" drama and there you go - Hired By Her Husband.
These two characters are absolutely hopeless. They spend four years licking their wounds, obsessed with the other person, making themselves the star in some tragic drama where they are a wounded doe, unloved by the other person. Sophy, especially, takes this to new heights of self-flagellation - all the way to almost the last page, she's determined to believe the worst in George's intentions toward her. She will not love again! She will not hurt again! She comes off the worst in this story because in her determination to star in her own victim of the year TV movie, she actively deprives her lonely daughter of a father's attention.
The sad thing is, there is no believable reason given as to why these two characters are so terrible at reading the other person. There is no reason why Sophy has to be the imbecilic self-appointed victim of the year. She's like Athena, sprang fully grown from Ms McAllister's forehead, already an adult woman full of inferiority issues despite being gorgeous and ready to be fertilized by the hero even as she is determined to suffer throughout every second of the joyous occasion. Sophy and George are just being imbeciles because they are required to behave this way so that Ms McAllister can turn in yet another Modern short book and buy herself some new shoes. This story is the result of the author going through the motions, having her characters behave like stereotypical Modern morons and working their way through tropes in a most clichéd manner.
Perhaps the biggest tragedy of this book is that Ms McAllister is a far better writer than this insipid waste of time would lead one to suggest.
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