Harlequin Mills & Boon, £3.99, ISBN 978-0-263-92407-7
Contemporary Romance, 2017
Lorenzo Ricci once married Angelina, and he though he had it made… until she learned that he married her for expedience, convenience, and other contrivances and she was – still is – so shattered. So, divorce. Only, he learns now that his divorce hadn’t been filed back then by the lawyer, so now he’s still married to her. Oh, and she’s about to marry another bloke too! Meanwhile, his father wants an heir for the family business now than Lorenzo’s brother can’t get those man-batter tadpoles going, so it is up to Lorenzo to unzip those pants and get down to making those babies right away. Of course, blackmailing that wife is the perfect way to do it. If she doesn’t spread out her bread for his peanut butter, he’s going to crap all over her useless family, and she can’t have that, oh no.
Welcome to the world of the Modern line, where Italian bazillionaires who look like the latest Hollywood hunk du jour still can’t get happily laid by happier women for some reason, needing to come up with excuses and contrivances lifted from the handbook of flesh trafficking to force a woman to put out to them. I don’t get it. He’s Italian and filthy rich – don’t these guys tend to have a passel of bastards running around because they are too manly to use birth control with their mistresses? Why not just go grab one of those? Or if that’s too inconvenient, just go online and order some bride from Vietnam or Myanmar. All this convoluted blackmailing penis on a rampage nonsense is just ludicrous and, in 2017, as anachronistic as anything can be when set in a first world country.
As for her, she has to do it, because of family, because she still loves him, blah blah blah. You know, the same old thing.
A Debt Paid in the Marriage Bed is basically similar to the last few books by the author that I read. We have an absolutely crap plot, and then we see the author desperately trying to mold her story into some semblance of normalcy. Under normal circumstances, the heroine’s constant psychoanalyzing of the hero as her justification to keep loving him would feel really contrived and heavy-handed, with Angelina coming off like Counselor Troi who can accurately sense all of Lorenzo’s hurt without him even needing to tell her anything. Under normal circumstances, his “I’m an ass because my last failed love story left a stick still embedded deep up my ass” nonsense and her “Oh, my family, without me as their doormat, they will die!” drama would seem like cop-out easy excuses to force these two to seem likable or to justify their nonsense. In this book with its crap plot, however, these things end up being signs that the author is well aware of how dire the whole thing is, and she is trying very hard to keep the sinking ship afloat until it reaches the finish line.
Why is the author doing this? Maybe she likes writing for this line, and if that is the case, she may as well go full loco and have her characters completely spaz out on everyone instead of trying to do futile damage control like this. If someone is pressing a gun against her head and forcing her to write these books, well, okay, that’s a good reason as any. Still, come on, at least give me a plot that doesn’t make me feel like my brain has been dipped in hydrogen peroxide.