Between the Pages, $2.99, ISBN 978-1983723261
Contemporary Romance, 2018
“It was like reading Jane Austen or William Shakespeare but in modern English.” ~ M. Richardson
I have no idea whom this M Richardson is, and I have never read anything by Cristiane Serruya before, but yes, challenge accepted.
“Nora Roberts meets 50 Shades of Grey” ~ Paula Penteado
On the other hand, one Pat Harmon begs to differ:
“…truly Danielle Steele Meets Fifty Shades …”
(Psst, it’s Danielle Steel.)
Wait, so the author is like Jane Austen, William Shakespeare, Danielle Steel, Nora Roberts, and EL James? None of them writes in a manner that is remotely similar to the other authors! May as well throw in a comparison to Sun Tzu while we’re at it.
So, Royal Affair. This is another romance with members of the royalty, naturally – there seem to be quite a number of them these days. This one takes place in Aragon – no, it’s not where Frodo and Sam got married after Frodo threw his wedding ring into a volcano, but rather, an “autonomous community” in northeastern Spain. Of course, this version of the Land of Viggo Mortensen is a fictitious one, with creative liberties taken to make sure that everything resembles everyone’s favorite Mills & Boon Modern story.
Grand Duke Ludwig von Kröenenberg – and yes, the spelling is all correct because I copied and pasted the name directly from the book – from the land of Lactation Station… hey, wait a minute, let me highlight that thing, press the CONTROL and C buttons together, and… voila, Lektenstaten is all handsome, hot, hung, and the usual.
He knew he was a handsome, sought-after man, even without being the 7th Grand Duke of Lektenstaten or the immense wealth associated with his name. Women vied for his attention. As a royal billionaire, he was no stranger to women attempting to seduce him physically and emotionally. But he was immune to their ploys. He really could live without them, and it concerned him that Angus had fallen for someone so hard after just one night with her. All he could do though was hope for the best, and be there for his friend whenever he was needed.
Lucky Princess Angelica de Castella y Like This Y Y Y GOD y Aragon had a one-week long affair with him – she hopped right onto, er, into his arms after being left at the altar. She gave away her vee-vee to the first handsome stranger she saw, with no strings attached too. Good thing she didn’t meet a hot pig herder or something, as we surely don’t want to see Angie slumming with the great unwashed masses.
He remembered the first time he had thought he was in love. He had just made his first billion when Ariel Macomber, a beautiful woman, a few years older than him, appeared in his life. She initiated him in the pleasures of sex and introduced him to delights he had never thought of before. But after a few months, the novelty wore off and he realized what he felt for her was only lust.
You’d think Luddy’d be happy to have found such a patient and dedicated woman to deflower him, as I’m pretty sure the pleasure was all his considering, you know, virgin male, but no, somehow she had fooled him because… his love turned to lust on its own volition? And that’s why he will never believe in love again! Are you touched by his angst yet, people? With Angie, however, the sex was so good that Luddie realizes that he has to pursue her and make her his. Forever! After all, the womb of a romance heroine is always capable of curing a man of his jaded nature.
Angelica’s life is also heartbreaking. Breathtakingly beautiful, she is cursed by the fact that men are attracted to her beauty first and foremost. Oh, why are people so shallow? Why can’t they look past her impossibly beautiful face and love her for her inner self? You know, I wish this woman wakes up one day to find that her face has magically resemble that of a Shar-Pei dog. Let’s see how happy she is to be rid of her looks after twenty-four hours.
She devoured romance novels in an attempt to learn the secret that she felt all other women were born with: how to be a true woman, in the most strict and natural sense of the word.
Oh god, no wonder.
So Luddie now wants Angelica, but not if her wicked ex-fiancé, now resurfaced again, has his way, muahahahaha!
Anyway, to enjoy this story, you have to accept that somehow, the Land of Viggo Mortensen has no Internet, no mobile phones with data plans, no postal service, nothing, because poor Angie is completely sheltered and she has to go great lengths to have the Kama Sutra smuggled into her possession. Why the hell is a virgin girl reading that anyway? It’s like a toddler reading a piloting manual when she couldn’t even walk. Also, divorce is impossible in Viggo Land, although there are no strong religious or cultural elements indicated here to give rise to such a thing in the first place. The author just takes her favorite Mills & Boon tropes, toss them into some make-believe land, and voila, Viggo Land!
As you can also guess, the story this simplistic to the point of la-la-loo is also very one-dimensional. The bad guy is truly evil, and to underscore this, he uses bad words left and right. Angie’s clueless nature is celebrated as a virtue, with Luddie actually delivering a monologue inside his head to tell me of how masculine and virile he feels because, unlike his previous bed mates who “had known what they wanted and greedily took it”, our heroine has no idea of what to do despite clearly gagging for “it” to be stuck into every orifice in her body. Angie’s inability to fully comprehend much less act on her desire is something we should all aspire to ourselves – perhaps by braining ourselves so that we will forget everything we know about sex, and end up behaving like the wide-eyed horny simpletons that real men out there want us to be.
The external conflict will realistically work if this story were set a few centuries earlier. Because it is set in 2016, a time when a country can’t sneeze without falling under the scrutiny of all its neighbors, CNN, Vladimir Putin’s spy cam, and at least 300 YouTube channels, the whole thing feels like yet again the author just making up things and throwing them together without making any concessions to modern day reality. Sure, romance novels will always have an element of fantasy to them, but the author barely makes any effort to allow her story to credibly take place today.
One good thing I can say here is that the author has a vibrant, distinct narrative voice. However, that’s small consolation considering that everything about Royal Affair is a la-la land version of a Mills & Boon Modern story. On top of celebrating female ignorance as a virtue of some sort, it is also way too much of a “The author just makes crap up and it shows!” stretch to be taken seriously as a plausible contemporary story. It’s probably better to have set this story in a true fantasy setting.