Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 978-1-60504-044-8
Contemporary Romance, 2008
Satin Lies has a plot straight out of a Lifetime channel TV movie of the week. Our heroine Faye Benedict had a daughter named Melita from her Harlequin Presents-style copulation with Enrico “Not Greek, But Close – Spanish!” Lavini but married his half-brother Matteo. Why? Because Melita needed a daddy but Enrico hated London, Faye’s home, and… and… and… you know how these heroines can be. Why force the hero to shoulder his responsibilities when the heroine will look so pretty and shiny on the cross when she plays the martyr and suffers? That was eight years ago, though. When the story opens, Faye was in a plane accident that killed Matteo and she now has partial amnesia – she can’t remember anything that happened in the last eight years. She remembers Enrico a lot, but none of the Harlequin Presents melodrama that happened when she got knocked up and decided the play the tragic heroine in the name of love.
Of course, if Enrico is halfway intelligent, he’d get down on his knees, presents Faye with a huge diamond ring and a signed contract stating that every cent that Enrico earns will go to a bank account that Faye has full access to, and offers his manly parts to be castrated if that is what it is needed to get Faye to forgive him. Faye, being a romance heroine and is therefore genetically unable to feel anything but irrational love for the man, will take him back and the three of them (including Melita) will then walk into the sunset to live happily ever after. The story will then end by page 60 and we can all go home happy.
But no. As Faye tries to reconcile herself to the fact that she had married Matteo when she still loves Enrico (both she and Enrico have no idea at that time that Enrico is Melita’s father), Enrico makes everything all about him. He brusquely orders Faye around, letting it know clearly that he’s resigned to being her “protector” but that doesn’t mean he likes doing it. Seriously, poor Faye is confused and upset over the death of Matteo, her best male friend, and here, her supposed true love is acting like a complete asshole.
“Everything is taken care of. You can purchase whatever you need in Italy.” He turned, making for the door. “You should rest now.”
“Enrico!” Her sharp tone made him turn slowly to look back at her. “I’m grateful for everything you’ve done, but please don’t treat me like a child and presume you know what’s best for me. I’d appreciate being informed of the arrangements you’re making on my behalf before you actually make them.”
He flicked back his jacket and slipped his hands into his trouser pockets.
Faye swallowed, unsettled by the way he looked at her, as if he was weighing up whether to challenge her remarks or let them go. Then he came toward her.
She made herself hold his gaze even though her knees felt weak again and she wanted to sink back down into the chair. But the haughty arrogance in the sharpened angles and planes of his face made her stand her ground as he moved up close.
“You have lost your memory,” he said, as if she needed reminding. “You have bruised ribs and a concussion. You have suffered the death of your husband and need to comfort your child.” His nostrils flared as he drew in a deep breath. “If I presume to make arrangements on your behalf, it is because I consider you have other priorities at this time.”
God. He made her feel like an ungrateful idiot.
Way to go, asshole. Put that injured woman who is still confined to the hospital bed in her place!
However, as the story progresses, Faye demonstrates that she is not some hapless doormat. While there are many things about her that is straight out of a handbook of clichés, from her secret baby to her marriage to Matteo to her unconditional devotion to Enrico that I am hard pressed to explain, she is not afraid to ask questions and demand answers. She can stand up for herself when she has to, which makes this story palatable.
After being introduced to Enrico’s family, I can understand why the man is the way he is. I’m not excusing his behavior, mind you. It’s just that after meeting his father, I can see why Enrico is such a stubborn mule. To be fair to Enrico, he becomes less bossy in a jerk-like manner and instead becomes bossy in a patronizing way when he realizes that he is Melita’s father. I am not sure though whether I believe that he loves Faye as much as he justifies himself to be in love with Faye after realizing that she is the mother of his daughter. For way too long, Enrico is intent on behaving like a self-absorbed asshole. I have my doubts about his ability to love anyone more than his reflection in the mirror.
Am I nasty to suspect that this story was initially intended to be sold to Harlequin Presents? Because there are many things about this story, from the hero’s personality to the soap opera plot, are right in line with the The Spanish Tycoon Billionaire’s Bought and Paid Amnesiac Secret Baby Mistress’s Convenient Wedding formula of that line. For what it is worth, this one may be a bit too melodramatic as well as silly and the hero is often too ridiculous for my liking, but the otherwise silly heroine manages to hold her own pretty well against the assholes in her life.