Arabesque, $5.99, ISBN 1-58314-152-9
Contemporary Romance, 2000
Betrayed by Love must be a reference to the hero Joshua Pyne’s clichéd, lousy experience with marriage. This story is a marriage of convenience story, a hard sell indeed for a contemporary setting, with the heroine Maura Blackwell already halfway in love with the hero when she accepts his proposal.
Toss in a murder, the usual plot of a hero who just won’t, won’t, won’t fall in love, etc, the caricature of an ex-wife, and this one becomes a story that is very tired and predictable. Surely there are better stories to tell!
Maura needs money because her grandfather is diagnosed with prostate cancer. Along comes Josh who asks her to marry him so that he can have a baby (all the adoption agencies in the Northern Hemisphere must be closed on that day, and all surrogate mommies are on strike too, I guess). Why must she be married to him in order to bear his child anyway? They will divorce after 18 months, and in return for her eggs, he will pay for her grandfather’s treatments. She agrees – does she have any other choice? Hmm, I guess a public appeal for donations is too undignified.
Josh has been hurt before, and he will never love again. This old, broken tune is sung again and again in a horrid off-key by this cold, humorless, monotonously dull man that I am hard-pressed to see why on earth Maura will hold out for him for so long. The plot and set-up for this story are already on quicksand when it comes to plausibility, but if the author has created interesting characters with red hot chemistry, things can still be salvaged.
Instead, Maura and Josh must be two of the blandest characters I’ve read in a romance. The author has an easy narrative style, although she tends to tell rather than show too often, but she can’t make these two people come alive on paper.
And the purple prose! The first section is titled Planting the Seed, of all thing. And when our robotic hero Josh bares his “mighty shaft”, I think we are heading towards the surreal here.
Betrayed by Love doesn’t approach rigor mortis territory thanks to the author’s gentle writing style, but it doesn’t exactly light firecrackers either.