Harlequin Historical, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-29928-7
Historical Romance, 2017
Liam Casek is an undercover agent for the Crown who, when the story opens, has to tend to his buddy Preston Worth after a botched job leaves Preston with a gun wound. Preston asks Liam to rush to his sister May’s side, as Preston’s identity is compromised and hence there is a chance that the bad guy will retaliate by going after May. Meanwhile, May is in a village in Scotland, assisting her friend Bea who is with child due to sleeping with some guy who, alas, turned out to be not much of a romance hero after all.
Claiming His Defiant Miss is an okay read for the first two chapters, and then, when the two characters meet, everything gets shot to hell. Instead of saying hello like a sane person and explaining his presence, Liam sits silently outside the porch like some creepy stalker. May thinks that it’s an intruder so she decides to try to shoot Liam. And it’s all downhill from there. May balks at the idea of being protected from danger – she will refuse, leave the house all alone without telling him, and more. So there! How dare he doesn’t act like he likes her! She will spite him by doing more stupid things even if her life may be in danger!
Liam is no better. He is supposed to be protecting May, but he spends more time lusting after her and then insisting that he’s no good for her. Both he and May treat the whole thing like an excuse to behave like childish kids trying to see who can tug the other person’s pigtail the hardest. It’s hard to take them seriously, but their silliness becomes even more painful when there’s a pregnant woman in their midst who could very well end up collateral damage as these two are too dim-witted to do anything properly.
This story becomes more readable in its late third or so, when the main characters finally decide to get their act together. By then, though, there is one big mess caused by their stupidity up to that point, so these two aren’t redeeming themselves as much as they thankfully undergo a personality transplant to become more capable at cleaning up the nonsense they themselves caused. Even then, both characters insist still that they are not meant to be – a same old song repeated in the previous book in the series as well – so much so that I really wish they really are not meant to be, and they will be estranged forever when a truck comes and flattens one of them. Preferably May, because she can be toxic in her stupidity in the first two-thirds of the book.
And throughout it all, I am rooting so hard for the bad guy because, let’s face it, stupidity should be exterminated from the gene pool for the betterment of all. Alas, that isn’t meant to be. Just like this book and myself – we really aren’t meant to be, and thank god for that.