Mills & Boon, £3.99, ISBN 978-0-263-92448-0
Contemporary Romance, 2017
Wedding Night with Her Enemy is part of a multi-author series called Wedlocked!, subtitled Conveniently wedded, passionately bedded!. It terrifies me a little that, nowadays, I can look at such words, put together in a way that normally makes no sense, and just move on without even a roll of my eyes because I am so used to such nonsensical lingo of the Modern line. Maybe I need some kind of spiritual purge to cleanse myself.
The title of this one is completely inaccurate even for a Mills & Book Modern book. The heroine Allegra Kallas’s antagonism towards Draco Papadam… er, Papadouche… oh wait, Papandreou (did I spell that right?) stems from how once, when she was younger, she got drunk and acted flirty around him. He, the older man, had the nerve to lecture her on her behavior, so oh, that is so vile. Like all Greek tragedies, her father and Draco aren’t BFFs, but given how estranged she is from her father, it’s not like she hates Draco due to family loyalty.
Allegra was only born because her parents needed a donor for her older brother, who had leukemia at that time. Unfortunately, she and her brother weren’t a perfect match, so oops, the kid died, leaving the parents all heaved up in despair. Her mother committed suicide when she was barely in her teens, and her father considers her a waste of his sperm. But he isn’t above practically selling her off to Draco in order to get Draco to put out the dough and replenish the Kallas fortune.
This is a story that only works if you accept that Mills & Boon stories exist in a reality where the very idea of a wealthy man courting a woman is something unheard of. Draco is a billionaire who has always been thirsty for a slurp at Allegra, so he… what, can’t take her to dinners at fancy places with his millions? He can’t buy her diamonds? Order a sex doll made to look just like her? It’s either she has a magical vagina that restores a man’s youth or he is desperately in love with her, for him to go through such lengths to get into that, but come on, even then, what makes any sane man imagine that a combo of blackmail, coercion, and alpha-male pawing at her breasts would be in any way a good idea for a healthy long-term relationship?
If you can overlook this head scratcher of a premise, there is some pleasant surprise to be had here. In many ways – ways that are not related to Draco – Allegra is actually a pretty well-rounded heroine. She’s self aware and can make rational decisions most of the time, and her worldview on sex, marriage, and relationships is shockingly reasonable for a heroine of this line. Draco is a total dunce in his inability to woo a woman, but he lacks the cruelty and misogyny typically associated with a Greek billionaire of this line. Therefore, there is something inherently likable about these two, even if they are made to go through the same old stupid hoops to present a formulaic Modern marriage of convenience story.
But the romance, sigh, is so played out. Allegra insists that they will not stay married forever, and then she decides that she’s in love with him and is shocked when he walks away (he believes that she doesn’t want him after her constant protests of not wanting to stay in the marriage – how unreasonable!), and so forth. The whole thing happens because the heroine for some reason expects the hero to read her mind, and then acts like a wounded doe when he can’t. That man has to force her to put out via blackmail and such – what makes her think he is capable of behaving in a reasonable manner when it comes to love and such things?
Anyway, Wedding Night with Her Enemy is alright for a story in this line, if only because it doesn’t make my blood pressure shoot through the roof. If you want to enjoy this one, though, you have to accept the premise for what it is – a formulaic Mills & Boon story that exists in its own reality, one untouched by real life contemporary norms and attitudes. Otherwise, it will be exposed for what it is: a by-the-numbers made-for-Modern story that makes little sense from start to finish.