Harlequin Mills & Boon, £3.19, ISBN 978-0-263-87214-9
Contemporary Romance, 2009
Bedded for Pleasure, Purchased for Pregnancy. I still don’t know whether to laugh in horrified amazement or send Ms Marinelli my condolences about the title of her latest masterpiece. I don’t normally care to speculate about the dietary habits of people in the industry, but this time around, I really cannot help but to wonder whether the editor who came up with this title had found inspiration via vigorous consumption of chemical substances or alcoholic beverages. Still, it had me buying the book out of curiosity, so I guess there may be some method behind the madness of your average Harlequin Mills & Boon editor.
You may be disappointed to learn that this book doesn’t have a white slavery plot and it also isn’t terrible in a campy and entertaining manner. This is actually a very average Modern story with a clichéd plot involved fake engagements, big misunderstandings, and main characters with the intelligence of bean sprouts. Emma Hayes has been in love with Zarios D’Amilo since she was sixteen. In the nine years since, her love remains bright and true despite the fact that she claims to hate him every other day or that she apparently still burns in humiliation over the memory of Zarios laughing her sixteen-year old self off when she puckered up her lips because she thought he wanted to kiss her. When the story opens, Zarios pops up in Emma’s life again when her family invites him to her father’s 60th birthday party.
Emma is a martyr to her problematic brother’s abusive ways and constant wheedling for money, and her mother slaps her when she tries to tell her brother no when the loser comes asking Emma for yet another loan that she cannot afford to give. Forced by her family to become a beautiful shining martyr, Emma is slowly bankrupting herself as she works herself to the bone to make her brother happy. Because Zarios is loaded with money, she decides to ask him for a loan. But this happens only after they have slept together, so Zarios is like, “Whore! Letting me shag you just to get my money! What a slut! I hate you now! WHOOOORE!”
Zarios’ grandfather however knows in his heart of hearts that Zarios is of course in love with Emma so he does what every loving grandfather will do in his shoes: he tells Zarios that if Zarios doesn’t marry, he’d cut Zarios off from his will. Zarios, therefore, is like, “Immoral woman! I hate you! But I’d give you one million dollars if you will get your skanky whore behind over here and become my fiancée!” Emma needs the money or her poor brother will have no more excuse to depend on her to assist his downward spiral, so she agrees to his proposal.
On the bright side, the author is well aware of how stupid her characters are. Unfortunately, the author writes as if she’s the reincarnation of Enid Blyton given a Harlequin Mills & Boon publishing contract, so the whole story is written in a flippant manner that I can’t take seriously. I can only laugh when the characters try to be remorseful only to sound like little kids being forced by their parents to apologize to each other.
The writing is full of unnecessary exclamation marks.
“I’m sure Cindy would be delighted to keep you company!” Ouch! Emma could have kicked herself for letting him know that she’d noticed.
“Cindy only wants me for my body!” He leaned forward, his voice dropping an octave. Cool and confident Emma was not. Her face burned at the near contact, her toes curling in her sandals at the feel of his breath on her ear. “And I will not let myself be used!”
Oh, and Ms Marinelli has Emma calling Zarios in the above scene “funny and wicked”. I don’t think she’s using those words correctly in that context.
The above two paragraphs are actually pretty typical of the prose in this story. Ms Marinelli writes as if her target audience are kids under the age of ten as she relies very heavily on simple sentence construction and abuses exclamation marks. If we have Emma taking long demented pauses between words, this book could have easily been written by the late Dame Barbara Cartland.
Still, it’s hard for me to hate on this book. The characters are like children and the author writes in a very simple child-like way, so ripping this book apart is like shooting fat pink babies in a barrel. I will feel like the lowliest scumbag in the world.