Mills & Boon, £5.99, ISBN 978-0-263-93264-5
Historical Romance, 2018
Dr Joseph Warriner has always had a crush on Clarissa Beaumont, so much so that he pushes his clinic opening time from eight to five past eight just so that he can moon over her from behind the curtains of the window, hoping for a glimpse of sexy ankles and more. Hey, it’s not creepy if the guy is hot, alright? Alas, when the story opens, that day it isn’t Clarissa but her sister Isabella that shows up instead. Joe is annoyed. As he puts it:
Why would he waste time staring at the darkness when he could gaze at sunshine?
I don’t know – as unnecessarily melodramatic as he is being, I think he’s better off soaking in sunshine, so that he could make more vitamin D, which helps to support his brain function among other things.
Bella is afraid of physical contact with other people, especially men, after an “incident” a while back. Nonetheless, she is determined to help sick children, and it is by tending to a kid with smallpox that earns her the reluctant admiration of Joe. He soon lets her play doctor – not in a dirty way, at least not at this early stage of the story anyway – and together they also work to overcome Bella’s phobia.
Don’t be lured by my synopsis into thinking that A Warriner to Tempt Her is some deep, emotional drama – it is a paint-by-numbers job that assembles all the standard 19th century English historical romance clichés in a bland and unmemorable manner. Clarissa is the beautiful sister, blonde of course, and surprise, she turns out to be a selfish twit. Bella is selfless, and brunette of course, and she has no concerns for herself, only for the kids and how she can make Joe love her.
Joe may be the only one who isn’t so stereotypical by design, but that’s because he’s a shallow bore with little memorable personality – he basically has to be nagged by his brothers in accepting that his infatuation with Clarissa is based on a fantasy. He is also portrayed as this self-taught visionary doctor who somehow has all the knowledge of a twenty-first century doctor, without the author showing me how he comes to all this knowledge, even as other doctors who think like members of the profession of that time are demonized as cruel and ignorant. Joe may as well be a time-traveling doctor in this story, going by the way the author injects contemporary knowledge and attitude into her 19th-century characters as an easy way to show me how much better they are compared to their peers.
The whole romance is built to be more of a therapy by boinking – yes, Bella’s issues are magically erased when she discovers true
horny love, and when this power of true love compels her to bare her bosom to be played with by Joe, the resulting pleasures make her go “Phobia what? GIVE IT TO ME. EVERYWHERE. NOW!”
Hence, A Warriner to Tempt Her is a shallow and vapid story that introduces angst as an easy prop for some eye-rolling “A hot guy shags me and now, all my emotional issues are gone! Call 1800-MILLSBOO to order your own hot guy today!” resolution, complete with forgettable characters who fall in love mostly because secondary characters nag the hero into doing so while the heroine is just so happy that she finally has a man to love her and be her shrink. At the rate things are going, this family should be renamed the Boringers.