Harlequin Mini - Jan 2015

Another Paperback Stash Feature

Since Harlequins are about as addicting as candy and can be consumed almost as quickly, I typically go through several of these depending on my mood. Many of the ones I read are older and not even near their new-release dates. It seems silly to post a full review for some of these with their own post since it's unlikely anyone will go and hunt them down based on the review, plus romance can follow so many formulas there just isn't much to say. Hence, this recap was born. What is it about Harlequins that is so addicting? They are like little soap operas at your fingertips!  Links in title go to Goodreads and description. Trope list can be found here.

The Sheikh's Prize
By Lynne Graham ★★★★☆

Harlequin Themes:
Sheikh, Misunderstandings

The book had Harlequin-drama poential, but fell flat as it was rather silly. The heroine would have these "big secrets" she didn't wnat to share, but blurted them out at the easiest opportunity. The story relied too much on overdone chemistry between the two that just wasn't believable. The ending was the best part of the story as it tied together, but the story itself had too many unlikely coincidences, false protests, and the heroine gave in too easily. Graham seems to put babies and pregnancy into the story too soon. The hero wasn't that interesting either and possessed little charm or intrigue.


The Golden Mask
By Robyn Donald ★★★☆☆

Harlequin Themes:
Wealthy Hero, False Pretenses

It took me awhile to get into this one – I was close to abandoning until page 30 or so, figuring the author’s style wasn’t my thing. Thankfully the story becomes more intriguing as the characters oddness starts standing out.

At first the protagonist seemed a too woe-is-me type with silliness, but it turns out this was intentional and ties into the plot later on. She is, of all things, helping take care of a sheep farm with her ailing grandfather. A former friend comes back into town to purchase it, and you can guess the rest from here.

I don’t mind her naiveté since she was so sheltered, nor do I care if she’s on the submissive side. That helplessness, though? Blah! Sometimes spunk would try showing itself, only to be squashed. Every dessert she made she’d call “pudding” (at least I think that’s what was going on.) Just strange. Blade was okay as the hero of the story. Sometimes I enjoyed him, but other times he was lackluster. Nothing special. The harshness he displayed to spur her on later made him an ass, and even if the author explains it at the end, I can’t fully forgive him.

The author’s writing style was enjoyable and she avoids melodramatic dialogue. It did get old how she overdid illustrations of the heroine’s poverty. She says the top of the food furniture is now white from too much scrubbing, is this possible? I really don’t know. She even takes it so far as to say her clothing is minimal or overworn because of poverty, and points out the jeans are almost white from being old and worn so often. I know that’s unlikely, as I’m one of the worst people for wearing pants a ridiculous amount (can never find ones that fit right!), and they will get holes and need thrown away way before they’d turn white.

Overall a passable Harlequin but nothing stellar.

The Heiress Bride
By Laurey Bright ★★☆☆☆

This book was just okay - nothing really stood out about it. The heroine was likeable enough, although I think she should have been a bit more harsh to her father when the news was announced. The misunderstanding was realistic enough for a drama piece, but really she shouldn't have married him thinking that. I would think that misconception would have made me not want to. I would have been in the mood to say, the heck with all of them, and leave everyone - but that's just me. The ending was sweet though and made the hero seem more genuine for once.

The Cinderella Coach
By Roz Denny Coach ★★★☆☆

Harlequin Themes:
Misunderstanding, Boss/Employee, Virginal  Heroine

Decent story, was better in the first half. After awhile when they were falling in love it started losing it's spark. One annoying thing was she kept saying his name when they talked to where it was unrealistic. I dug how the author made this one different by having a problem being the very real merging of cultures and family traditions, I hadn't read anything like that before. I liked the heroine, but the hero not so much, he was too quick to misunderstand and hold a grudge. Get over it already. I also got annoyed toward the end with her having to hold up the ruse to please everyone, I felt like telling her grandparents to get over it and Mikki and Mei-Li to man up.

Their Wedding Day
By Emma Darcy ★★★☆☆

Harlequin Themes:

It had most of the themes I don't care much for with these - pre-existing children, past relationship, not much drama between the couples, too perfect - but somehow it still worked. This book was so sweet my blood sugar almost rose reading it, but it wasn't cloying somehow. Magic it must be. I was a bit dismay by the lead gal's acceptance of handouts and greed and the hero is too good to be true, but it must have fit my mood today. The kids were sweet too, especially the boy. Romance at it's unrealistic finest, but still a treat to read on certain days.

A Woman's Place
By Nicola West ★★★☆☆

Harlequin Themes:
Already have a child

A decent Harlequin, although nothing special. I'm surprised the average ratings for this book on Goodreads is that bad. Compared to other Harlequins that are average, it really isn't worse. Could be because Jan is simply an annoying character - feminism so in-grained I gritted my teeth. There's no realistic friction between the leads really - the small stumble between them isn't too big to overcome. The jealousy with Kurt is rather silly and in the end, when the author reveals his true intention and why, well...it just doesn't make the most sense. Some of the dialogue was hokey, and of course the book stands cursed with some melodramatic servings. There's no credible reason the leads should have fallen in love as not much bonding is done, no major moments had, but so many of these short and romantic fairy-tales are like that.

The Marriage Bracelet
By Rebecca Winters ★★☆☆☆

Harlequin Themes:

Actually pretty good - the gypsy culture is intriguing, although it only delves into it so much. I want my own tsara in the backyard now. The heroine is likeable enough and close knit with the family, even if a bit wide eyed sometimes (aren't they all?) The hero is great - dark, silver eyed, intense, protective, just how I like. There is no steam in the story. Branko's personality was hilarious, adding a needed brush of humor. I did find the family a little too intrusive sometimes, even if the brother was likeable.