Avon Impulse, $4.99, ISBN 978-0-06-228937-7
Contemporary Romance, 2013
Torn is the second entry into Monica Murphy’s Billionaire Bachelors Club, but this one stands alone very well. In fact, it does many things right. As a novella, it rightfully avoids cluttering itself with baggage from other books and paces itself just fine. Put in a couple that are playing and being naughty on equal footing and the end result is nothing short of fun.
Marina Knight and Gage Emerson both know that they are using one another. She wants him to introduce her to his buddy so that she can help get the pastries and cakes from her bakery into the menu of a successful hotel. He wants her to help introduce him to her father so that they can negotiate and let Gage buy some of the failing ventures in Marina’s family business. She finds him arrogant and annoying – if he would shut up more often, he may be halfway disagreeable. He isn’t ready for commitment. The sex is great – really – and they like spending time together, but watch them try to rationalize their thing into something transient. If they break up tomorrow, they both won’t get too torn up over it. Honest!
What I really like about this story is how, contrary to first impressions, both the hero and the heroine are equally aware or deluded (depending on how you look at it) about their relationship. Normally the billionaire hero pulls all the strings, but here, Gage wants it as bad as Monica, only he’s not sure what “it” is until his grand epiphany. Both he and Marina have a chemistry that feels natural and unforced once the author has the obligatory “alpha male comes on very strong” moments out of the way, and Marina never lets Gage get away with much alpha male nonsense. In fact, I’d argue that Gage isn’t an alpha male at all. He’s just a charming rich bloke who’s spoiled by the attention and privilege he receives by being so wealthy, but nowhere to an insufferable extent. Meanwhile, Marina is adorable in that she doesn’t let anyone, even her own parents, make her feel like crap, and I especially love how she insists that there is nothing wrong with a woman being single and independent these days.
The message is kind of diluted by the fact that she’s 23 and I feel that 23-year old women today should live a little bit more before they tie themselves down to some guy. I mean, once the kid comes and they become wives as well as mothers, it’s hard to find any opportunity to discover who they are or what they really want in life. Then again, Marina is marrying a billionaire, and she’d have nannies and maids to all the more tedious stuff in her life, so hey, more power to her.
Anyway, Torn is an enjoyable light read with a fun couple being foolish in the name of love. Nice.