Tag Archives: Harlequin Presents

TBR Challenge Review: The Italian’s Suitable Wife by Lucy Monroe

The Italian’s Suitable Wife by Lucy Monroe
Contemporary romance released by Harlequin Presents on October 1, 2004

The Italian's Suitable WifeEnrico DiRinaldi wants a wife and children, even though an accident has left him unable to walk. So he proposes a marriage of convenience to Gianna Lakewood. Having always longed for a baby herself — and having secretly loved Enrico since she was a teenager — Gianna can’t say no.

The passion Enrico ignites in his innocent bride leaves her breathless. But when she realizes that his full recovery is imminent, and his beautiful ex-fiancée is waiting in the wings, Gianna is sure he won’t want her any more. So why is Enrico so intent on keeping his convenient wife by his side?

It’s TBR Challenge Time and I’m a day late and a dollar short, as usual. This month we were supposed to read a “RITA book” – whether it be a winner, or a nominee I believe. I have to be honest, I’ve never had much luck with RITA books, and aside from being happy for authors with their nominations and/or wins, I don’t take them into consideration. Accordingly, I went with a comfort read. I want to say I first read this book right around the time it was published, and have re-read it numerous times since.

Gianna is something of an atypical Harlequin Presents heroine, especially for 2004. She’s not a total doormat, and although she’s a total emotional pushover when it comes to Rico, she does get some of her own back. Gianna is warm, loving, uncertain, and passionate. I found her character and age realistic, especially as someone who had been pining for a man since ~girlhood. It was nice that Gianna gets along so well with the DiRinaldi family and already has an established relationship with all of them. It saved her from being too put-upon, and gave her the support and confidence she needed.

Enrico DiRinaldi is your typical Harlequin Presents hero. A take charge tycoon, Latin Lover, and something of an asshole. I liked that we got his perspective at time, and a look into his uncertainties. It was also nice that he admitted them to Gianna in the end, which really cements the fact that they have a real, believable relationship, not just something that happened because it’s the formula of the book/publisher line. Rico experiences all sorts of new emotions, and realizes he’s fallen in love in typical emotionally stunted male fashion. Lucy Monroe is a really great writer that digs into your emotions, and you really feel for Rico, even when he’s being a jerk outwardly.

There were a few things that I didn’t find believable – that she was an assistant  professor at age 23. I found that unrealistic even in 2004. Also the evil model ex-fiancée was borderline evil mustache twirling villain, but what mostly makes up for it is that Rico takes care of things in the end. The first intimate scene(s) are a bit extreme, but I’d put that down mostly to the Harlequin category format. (And the year.)

If you enjoy category and/or Harlequin romances, I definitely recommend this one. It made me tear up on the metro when I read it this most recent time. Yes, even knowing what was coming and on public transport. It might be a little bit of nostalgia and emotional attachment for me, but I really like The Italian’s Suitable Wife. I think it’s how Rico comes around and his character growth that forms his relationship with Gianna that does it for me.

Grade: B+

You can read an excerpt here or buy a copy here.

Happy Halloween from Sarah Morgan!

My lovelies, let me wish you a Happy Halloween! I love candy, so this is a good day. 😉 [Actually I’ve never been big on Halloween and haven’t dressed up since well before elementary school was over… but I enjoy the festivities.] More to the point, I’m thrilled to welcome Sarah Morgan to ALBTALBS today! <3 She’s a fantastic author, and I’m crushed I didn’t get to meet her this past summer. She had a new book release just this past Tuesday (Sleigh Bells in the Snow), so I’m tickled we get her so close to the big deay. 😀

She and other authors are also very tricksies, getting around my interview rule by interviewing themselves. 😉 And here are hers.

An Invitation to SinBiggest fashion mistake?
I once went to a fancy dress party dressed as a tiger. The theme was ‘wild’ and I wore a tight stripy leotard, theatrical cat mask, face paint and whiskers. I travelled on the London underground. Ever been on the London underground? It’s like the New York subway. A tiger stands out. And a commuter sat on my tail.

Something you said and wish you hadn’t?
Yes of course I can write the book by next week.

Favorite Halloween film?
Harry Potter.

Which book of on your shelf is in the worst condition?
Northern Lights by Nora Roberts. I love that book. I love stories set in cold, snowy places and her characters are always real and interesting. My copy is almost falling apart.

The Forbidden FerraraSecret addiction?
Henry Cavill and peanut butter. But not together. Well, maybe together…

Secret Talent (I’d like to hear that … youtube video, perhaps? *angelface*)
I sing Soft Kitty beautifully.

If you weren’t you, who would you like to be?
Iron man (or girl). That would be so cool. No airport queues.

What are you really bad at?
Keeping quiet.

What will you be doing on Halloween?
Trying to finish my next Cosmo Red Hot Read. There’s not a GHOST of a chance that will happen. And I’d eat the Halloween chocolate if I hadn’t already eaten it.

Lost to the DeHee! That’s her “Halloween Themed” one. Sarah was such a great sport, she re-wrote her post when I mentioned she’d be guesting on this spooky day. She also had one more book themed, considering the title is Sleigh Bells in the Snow, the following are some of her her original questions that I definitely think should be shared as well.

A film you’d have to be paid to watch again?
Disney’s Up. I think it should have been called Down. Visually it’s pretty but I found it miserable viewing. And now I’m going to get a million comments telling me why I’m wrong.

Best Christmas gift ever?
A diamond ring. I had a very romantic proposal!

Worst Christmas gift?
Flu. Thanks a lot.

Now back to today: Sarah is offering one lucky commenter a copy of her newest book Sleigh Bells in the Snow! Whee!

Sleigh Bells in the SnowOnce upon a time, Christmas was Kayla Green’s favorite time of year. Now all the workaholic wants for Christmas is for it to be over—as fast as possible! So when duty calls her to snowy Vermont to close a deal with a new client, Kayla is grateful for an excuse to avoid the holidays for another year.

Jackson O’Neil left a thriving business behind to return home and salvage his family’s resort—it’s in his blood, and he can’t let it fail. Now that he’s got marketing whiz Kayla Green working with him to put Snow Crystal on the map, success is on the horizon. The fact they strike enough sparks off each other to power all the Christmas lights in Vermont is just an added bonus.

Kayla might be an expert at her job, but she’s out of her depth with Jackson—he makes her crave the happy-ever-after she once dreamed of, and it’s terrifying. As the snowflakes continue to swirl, will the woman who doesn’t believe in the magic of Christmas finally fall under its spell?

Sounds good yes? To throw your hat in the ring, just answer this question: Sarah wants to know “What is your favorite Halloween food?” (Sarah’s is tomato soup!). So tell us your favorite Halloween food – and candy – and offer a warm welcome to Sarah please! (And congratulations on your newest release!)

Oh and?! All the other books by Sarah I’ve included in this post are only $1.99 for kindle right now! So snatch those babies up!

Emergency Post & the Ultimate Harlequin Presents

So, if this goes live it means a) I’m away and b) I’ve had no internet connection. This likely also means c) I’m a twitchy mess, and also d) EXTREMELY UNHAPPY*. I will have my phone with me, but there’s only so much a phone can do. You know what makes me happy though? Discussion.

[In case you were asking/wondering? No, no I’m not above blatant pandering. Maybe that’s where my latent lawyer tendencies/characteristics can be found… ba dum bump]

Anyway – I submit to you all.

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. The ultimate Harlequin Presents. If it weren’t 3:21 AM I’d google to see when the first was written/published. (Which might completely destroy my theory.) But I have to drive 15 hours today. And did I mention driving makes me sleepy? And sleepy means falling asleep at the wheel? So… the faster I get done with this post the better.

But I have to say it.

Hear me out. Young (extremely, although not really. She’s… ack I haven’t read it all in too long. In her mid 20s right? 24? I say not really because some HP heroines are 19 which… *gag+shudders*) – naive, gauche. Awkward, shy, socially inept. And yet the über hero loves her. Maxim! De Winter! He who owns Manderley. Oh and did we mention he has/d an evil ex? And he’s all bitter now?

So… rich, entitled alphahole hero. Who decides he’s going to marry the heroine – never tells her he loves her, and calls her a “little idiot.” And they get married and it’s all miserable. Then the shit hits the fan and he’s all “I luuuurve you!!” And she’s all “well now! That’s awesome!” and then… stuff and happy ending.

I know, cliffs notes is just this close –> <– to beating down my door right now to get me to write for them.

Just wait until you hear me summarize history.

Back to the topic at hand. (Hahaha as if there’s anything to be off topic about…) Before the rock throwing begins – I like Rebecca. A lot. Sometimes I’m not even sure why. (But maybe next time I’ll share some of its amazing quotes.) And I also enjoy Harlequin Presents. Even some that make me roll my eyes so hard I almost hurt myself. (Ok so those I like less, but sometimes I can enjoy them if the TSTL is wiped out.)

It’s also 3:26 AM which means shut up time. Hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend!

Unless you’re at RT. Then I hope you trip on something.

Unless you got me something. Then I heart you.

[I don’t expect anyone there has though, so eff ’em.]

And if you’ve stuck with me this far… if you answer my questions – or whatever – chime in on the topic you can win a book by Maggie Robinson. Because she’s awesome.

*Extremely Unhappy allcaps means I’m fucking pissed off and looking to shank someone. Will be resourceful and make weapons out of items in my purse even. Snapped off lip gloss wand (possibly sharpened) would do some damage. Especially to the face. By which I mean the eyes. <– Don’t piss off Lime.

Review: One Last Night by Melanie Milburne

One Last Night by Melanie Milburne
Contemporary romance released by Harlequin Presents May 24, 2011

When Maya met Giorgio Sabbatini, he married the penniless waif and stray despite her inferior breeding. So her decision to divorce him now is made with a heavy heart. Giorgio belongs to a notorious blue-blooded family, and their duty to maintain its lineage is unquestioning. Unable to give him the heir he craves, Maya knows she has to walk away.

But the ink on their divorce papers isn’t given the chance to dry; after one last reckless night of passion, there’s a very shocking announcement….

So you all know I’ve been reading a positively gluttonous amount of Harlequin Presents lately, and I’m not going to make any apologies for it. There have been some lemons, but some excellent ones as well. Perhaps the most interesting/odd thing about it is that I’m not reviewing a Helen Brooks title, as she’s been about 90% of my recent reading.

However, I enjoyed this book, and it’s the most recent one I finished, so review ahoy!

I want to say Maya is an interesting character, but she’s not, really. She’s rather typical, in fact, of a romance heroine. Nevertheless I liked her. She’s – once the book starts – smart, and has self respect. Her situation is a bit interesting, and difficult – she married Gio because she loved him, and hoped that he’d come to love her. Maya doesn’t believe it’s happened, and after five years and four miscarriages, she’s calling it quits. I thought that was an interesting element that added a lot to Maya and Gio’s strained relationship. Maya is generally sensible, but throughout the book she’s got pregnancy hormones going a bit crazy, but I think any non-pregnant could and would have easily said and felt the things she did. I also can sympathize with her thinking Gio doesn’t love her. Considering how emotionally unavailable he is, and their situation – both in how/why they got married and currently. She’s not a flighty heroine, for sure. I feel like I’m mucking up the explanation, but she’s not annoying, as many authors might have written her or made her out to be.

Giorgio was actually much more of a static character. I did, however, like that he admitted – both to himself and Maya – that he didn’t love her when he married her. He’s incredibly sexy and autocratic and I think we’re supposed to classify him as “alpha” but… I more got that he was cold. Something of an automaton, and almost a jerk. Not that he doesn’t care about other people – he’s fiercely protected and concerned about his family, but he does what he thinks is best without any consultation or explanation. In fact, Gio can come across as selfish, based on his “we’re going to be together – end of divorce proceedings” decision. I did, however, love his honesty. I appreciate that he’s trying and realizes (finally) how things looked from Maya’s point of view.  It shows he’s growing, and changing.

What I’m not quite clear on is why he married her in the first place. Sure, Ms. Milburne emphasizes many times the pressure and important for Giorgia to get married, and quickly. But why Maya? Considering he’s upper class all the way and she’s quite regular. He could have married anyone. I think the idea is we’re supposed to say “oh how sweet, Giorgio chose Maya out of all these women.” But Ms. Milburne never actually comes out and says it, and I’m not quite comfortable assuming that. I also don’t think I should have to. Especially as everyone is quite clear that when Giorgio married Maya, he didn’t love her. That happened later in their marriage – possibly even as late as when Maya left him six months before the book begins.

My other problem was how Giorgio and Maya reconcile. As in, they don’t exactly. They pretend to get back together to comfort Gio’s dying grandfather. Then Gio decides they’re going to stay together and that’s that. He doesn’t say why, or explain it to Maya… and she just goes along with it. Of course at this point, Gio does love Maya, he just never says it. I think that’s supposed to smooth the way for the reader to be happy for them.

The secondary characters were great, but I’m not going to seek out their stories. If I stumble across them, yay. If not, I’ve got other books. I also have this feeling the last Sabbatini brother’s book – Nic – will be him and his grandfather’s “spoilt heiress goddaughter” which is not my cuppa. I could be wrong. But I don’t want to be right.

Nevertheless, the writing and flow was excellent. I enjoyed seeing Maya and Gio work on, and work out their issues. Albeit often not verbally. Giorgio internalizes everything and has a hard time communicating his feelings. I’m okay with that – it’s his personality, and part of Maya’s growth is her understanding and accepting that. It also goes to show that Gio does love Maya – and he does say he loves her. I suppose it’s the realization of the fact and culmination that I don’t quite “follow” as closely.

I did like the book, and even wavered with giving it a B- grade… and it started out as a “C+” review, but as I wrote the review I realized just how much some of the issues bothered me. :X Whoops.

Grade: C-

*ETA: Right! And if you’d like the chance to win and try your choice of any category romance by Olivia Gates… leave me a comment here! (Hint  – you have to click the link.) Yes, that give away is still open! I want thoughtful comments about categories!