Harlequin Mills & Boon, £3.99, ISBN 978-0-263-24932-3
Contemporary Romance, 2015
Bought for Her Innocence is very similar to the last book of this author that I’ve read, in that we have another obscenely wealthy hero treating the people around him who are in more serious problems – in this case, the heroine – like crap because he had a horrible childhood so, wah wah wah, our little piddle manchild can’t stop going boo-hoo-hoo. I hope this is not a pattern to the author’s books.
Jasmine Douglas is in trouble. Her brother owed a lot of money to the local crime boss, and the boss in question wants her to start offering her goodies along with her waiting table services to pay off the debts in three months. She decides on a desperate plan – she’d auction off her virginity for £100,000 and, at the same time, asks her brother’s old friend Dmitri Karegas to buy her out. After all, it is better to bend over for a guy she knows but has decided to hate, rather than to some stranger. Right? Never mind that the amount of money seems a little high in a time of Craiglist and hook-up apps, let’s all remember that this Modern line is as modern as, say, 1965.
As far as Jasmine is concerned, Dmitri owes her and her brother. You see, Andrew protected Dmitri from Dmitri’s mean father when they were kids, but then Dmitri ran off, got rich, and rolled around on a mountain of dollar bills and cheap tramps while the two of them continued to eke out a miserable existence. When she met Dmitri at Andrew’s funeral, she was insulted by him looking at her “so coldly” and offering her cash. Now. she hopes he would come bail her out, for Andrew’s memory if nothing else.
On the other hand, Dmitri tells himself that he has done himself a great sacrifice by “letting” Jasmine go all those years ago. Naturally, Jasmine didn’t get the memo. Now, he is all guilt-ridden and brooding about how he has to rescue Jasmine. How did Jasmine get tangled up like that with a crime boss anyway? If he has bothered to catch up his old friends, he’d probably know, but Dmitri Boo-boo has no time for that nonsense, not when he has to vigorously slake his tormented psyche by thrusting into blonde models, “blonde models” being, of course, the short hand for “disposable tramps”.
So, Dmitri will now, for Andrew’s sake, protect Jasmine… by berating her, mocking her, insulting her, manhandling her, and generally acting like she is now obligated to let him roger all over her in every orifice because he has bought her for £100,000. This is my biggest issue with this one: Dmitri thinks one thing, but the moment he talks and acts, he ends up doing another thing. If he sticks to his plans, he should be giving Jasmine safe harbor, and if he likes her, he should be wooing her with wine, roses, unlimited shopping sprees… but no, he behaves basically like any random Greek twatwaffle of this line. The author has an idea of her hero’s bipolar behavior, but she tries to attribute this nonsense to his sad childhood.
Here’s the thing: he’s currently loaded. He has purchase a few dozen psychiatry practices if he wants a shrink. All that money, and he can’t buy himself any happiness? What a loser. Not to mention, it makes Dmitri look like the biggest turd-smeared manchild asshole to spend all his time moping and treating people like crap when those people, such as Jasmine, have real and pressing matters to deal with. But that’s the way the dice roll in this story: you have to be very sympathetic to this twatwaffle to enjoy this story, as it’s all about him sitting on people’s faces and releasing a load of gas while going wah wah wah.
As for Jasmine, she occasionally tries to stand up to Dmitri, but the author has her unable to resist the manchild’s mojo. Poor Jasmine, she is yet another romance heroine with no impulse control. Because her body gets all trembling and soaking wet in Dmitri’s presence, she has to succumb to his berating, scowling, childish tantrums. After a while, I think she actually likes being treated that way and give up on her.
In many ways, Bought for Her Innocence stays faithful to the Modern line formula. The hero is the usual asshole, the heroine is the usual enabler who by the last few chapters is begging me to believe her when she insists that Dmitri is the most unlucky person ever (I have zero four-lettered-words to give to that, I tell you). I just wish the main characters’ thoughts and behavior at least jive a little so that the two of them don’t look like they are desperately in need of psychiatric evaluation that much.