Harlequin Mills & Boon, £3.19, ISBN 978-0-263-87203-3
Contemporary Romance, 2009
Savas’ Defiant Mistress occasionally reminds me of better romances by Jayne Ann Krentz because it has one of my favorite story lines in romance – the lone wolf hero who believes that he is immune to “weaker” emotions like love and the more visceral woman who wins his heart and turns his world upside down. Unfortunately, things never really come together here to give me what I am looking for.
To enjoy this story, you have to accept that believing that the heroine Nely Robson is sleeping with the boss is an okay thing to do. Even the heroine laughs it off. You must also accept that her boss, also her father, is happy to let people believe that she is sleeping with him (nobody knows that he is her father except the two of them, so eeuw) for… I don’t know, it’s never explained clearly here why he is willing to let the gossip continue. Maybe he’s too busy matchmaking her with Sebastian Savas to care. Then again, Nely is pretty dense because she doesn’t understand that people may and will talk when she starts staying over at the boss Max’s house or following him on yacht trips for two.
But the whole “she’s sleeping with the boss” angle isn’t important to the main story line, so don’t worry too much about it. It’s present prominently enough to get me scratching my head, but Nely and Seb clear up this matter between them by around the first third of the story so it’s not that prominent enough to become a significant problem.
Anyway, Seb and Nely are colleagues in Max’s architect firm. He doesn’t like her because he believes that she is capable of designing only pink frilly designs and she responds in kind by saying that he knows of only phallic skyscraper designs. But they are forced to live in close proximity when Seb, chased out of his penthouse apartment by his half-sisters who are here to attend to his sister’s wedding preparations, buys a houseboat from a colleague. Guess who is currently renting the houseboat. He wants her to move, she insists that the lease she has signed allows her to stay for another six months, and she will buy the houseboat one day, just he wait and see.
The seeds of a great story are present in this story. Seb could have been a classic rich but desperately lonely hero typically found in Jayne Ann Krentz’s earlier contemporary romances while Nely could have been the more optimistic heroine who teaches him to love. However, this story sees them bickering a little too long without making much progress in their relationship. As a result, Seb and Nely come off more like childish brats than antagonistic people with plenty of sexual tension between them. The romance is a little too dependent on contrived matchmaking antics of secondary characters and groan-inducing incidents in getting those two together.
Savas’ Defiant Mistress could have been a fun read, but it ends up being a disappointing one instead.