Samhain Publishing, $4.50, ISBN 978-1-61923-121-4
Contemporary Romance, 2015
The author must either be very daring or feeling suicidal to start the story with the hero being a colossal idiot. Dante Leone – seriously, the names of these heroes are getting worse these days – believes that Sophia Hamilton is a user, liar, tart, whore, blah blah blah but Sophia is actually a weeping willow whose determination to stand up for herself often sees her eek-eek-eeking in front of everyone as she tries not to hyperventilate. His issue with her started when she had a crush on him and he discovered that she lied about her age – she was 19 to his 28, oh my god, she was such a Lolita temptress back then to… to… force him to take her virginity by being so hot and sexy so… slut.
Seriously, this is the basis for his refusal to treat her like a human being.
“I took your virginity.”
“Well, you certainly didn’t have a problem with it at the time.”
“You had to realize I assumed you were at least twenty-one. We went out to bars all the time. ”
Her lips tightened into a thin white line. “Would you have gone out with me if I’d told you?”
“You know damn well I wouldn’t have!”
“I wanted to be with you, Dante. It was as simple as that.”
Dante sneered. “So you kept quiet and manipulated me into doing something that goes against every moral principle I have?”
She shook her head vigorously. “It wasn’t like that. You wanted me as much as I wanted you. I didn’t see any harm… Damn it, Dante. I never meant to hurt you.”
He snorted. Yeah, like he believed that.
“I’m sorry. I really am.”
The groan she made just before the car door flung open sounded like a wounded animal, then she tumbled out and raced inside.
Girls, this is why you shouldn’t spread those legs indiscriminately. The guy who gets there first can be a complete lunatic like this imbecile, and he may end up being harder to shake off than syphilis.
Now that he’s her business partner, thanks to her dead father’s will, he gets to humiliate her and accuse her of all kinds of nonsense, only to then insist that she continues to work under him or else her father’s business would be destroyed and she wouldn’t want that, of course not. Along the way, as Sophia tries to find her spine in the midst of all that melting in her loins for Dante, Dante is like, oops, misjudged her, oops, got the whole story wrong over the last few years, oops, looks like he believed the wrong person about Sophia’s manipulative slutty ways…
I don’t know. Maybe readers who enjoy Harlequin Presents stories with particularly obnoxious heroes would like this one better than me, but I don’t see any joy in seeing that imbecile discovering in the end that he’s completely wrong about Sophia. He’s a bloody moron, what kind of husband material is he going to be? He’s blackmailing or issuing ultimatums to Sophia all the way to last few chapters, and Sophia ends up being completely under his thumb both because she’s too useless to say no to moron peen and also because the author uses eye-rolling contrivances to ensure that Sophia just cannot walk away from Dante even if she finds the brainpower and willpower to want to do so.
The problem of The Business of Love, at the end of the day, stems from the author’s really clumsy handling of the many, many big misunderstanding dramas in this story that end up making Dante look like a serious case of brain damage in action, Not to mention, his hatred for a woman just because she lied about being 21 is way overblown and ridiculous to a “I need to see a shrink” degree. She was 19! She couldn’t drink, but I doubt the cops would arrest him for having sex with her back then. The author isn’t willing to let Dante be held fully accountable for his nonsense, so she tries to blame his mess on one-dimensional villains. Again, this only makes Dante seem an even bigger colossal idiot for being fooled by these cartoon villains.
At the end of the day, let Sophia’s story be a lesson to all the young ladies out there: no matter how hot the guy may be, don’t sleep with crazy, and more importantly, don’t marry crazy. Don’t even talk to crazy!