Harlequin Mini - July 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 Golden Thief
By Kate Walker ★★★☆☆☆

Harlequin Themes:
Instalove, Boss/Employee Relationship, Movie Actors

Another harlequin that embraces the cliches and tired old formulas and indulges in unrealistic chemistry that may as well shock the couple to death with lightning strikes of love. 

The protagonist may have a chip on her shoulder, but that doesn't compare to the absolute boulder on the hero's shoulders. The ending 'misunderstanding' was unbelievable and could have easily been cleared up. Their immediate chemistry can only be explained by lust attraction.

 The buildup wasn't worth the wait, at all, in that department. The hero was likeable enough with his moodiness but nothing special. At least the author didn't keep painting pictures of the heroines beauty every chapter.


Set the Stars on Fire
By Sally Wentworth ★★★★★☆

Harlequin Themes:
Movie Actors, Movie Set Romance

For a Harlequin's rating, this was excellent. It really was - very little cheesy instalust and the misconceptions were convincing on the reasoning behind it. 
The heroine was likeable, the hero also, and neither of them were too unrealistic. The set was a movie set and intriguing with the demands of cost production, the heat, the animosity of the crew because of the rumors about her, the leading man's struggles. 
Hard to put down, read in one sitting, books like this are reasons I enjoy harlequins. I have to wonder, did the movie make a decent amount? It never says.

The Trusting Game
By Penny Jordan ★★★☆☆

Harlequin Themes:
Heroine with Hang-ups, Forced live together

For a Harlequin this one was pretty good. The hero was likeable as he was calm, intelligent, and interesting enough, although nothing stood out as unique. The heroine I dug even if she had a massive chip on her shoulder - I liked the author didn't melt away her issues so quickly as many authors do, where she kept up her motivations for being untrusting for most of the book, used her brain and distrust. She also had a valid motive that was reasonable, made sense, and strong enough to keep the plot issues up. The end of the book had a nifty twist on why she was forced to trust him after all. 

But their strange clutch on a baby again is a turn off - why can't couples want some alone time? Is it that unusual to think about it? The other negative was the dialogue was cheesy during...intimate moments, which is a common thing for Harlequins. There was some good writing with those scenes though, some steamy areas authors don't always go to.

And, there was some humor -

"I may not brag about it, but I certainly know how to do it," Christa told him, blushing a little as she responded to his gentle humor. "One of my friends' teenage daughters has told me all about it. They had a demonstration at school - with a cucumber..."

"A cucumber?" Daniel burst out laughing. "And women wonder why men have such fragile sexual egos."

Mended Engagement
By Mary Lyons ★★★★☆

Harlequin Themes:
Previous Existing Relationship, Wealthy Hero

By Harlequin standards, this one wasn't bad. I typically don't enjoy previous existing relationship themes but it worked here as the author fit it in early and made its existence relevant and deep enough to carry through to the present. 

The heroine was likeable - she had some spark but she also was human with getting annoyed helping out and negative thoughts about random people. I do think it was weak how she suddenly cared nothing about her business but hey, that's Harlequin sometimes. The hero of the story was likeable enough - I liked his intensity, his funny outbursts. 

This was mainly a misunderstanding story as so many others are. Not perfect but enjoyable and had decent tension, likeable characters, and Harlequin balance.

The Power of Vasilii
By Penny Jordan ★★☆☆☆

Harlequin Themes:
Boss/Employee Relationship

A dull, pointless story. With all that Penny Jordan wrote, I guess it's inevitable she'd run out of strong plot ideas, especially considering this is Harlequin formulaic territory where the branch of the playing field can't be stretched out far. 

It holds some potential, but not much, and this isn't helped since the characters seem to be driven by lust rather than love. Why on earth would it be convincing that the two could actually have fallen in love with each other with so little interaction, in such a brief moment of time, considering the circumstances?

The hero is an ass with little redemption; the heroine is sweet and decent, but why she'd love that guy I have little clue. The connection with Wing Lu, the chinese wife, was predictable.

Something Extra
By Janet Dailey ★★☆☆☆

Harlequin Themes:
Unrealistic Relationship, Travel

Sigh. Dailey's writing style is well enough (for Harlequin standards), but the heroine is downright pathetic sometimes.

 I don't mind the old-fashioned, somewhat dependant female in the older harlequin tales, but she was simpering and a wreck by the end of the book. The 'hero' had a strange anger issue that would erupt out of nowhere, and by the end of the story his strange reservations are never explained at all. 

They basically had instalove in one day period when they met at a picnic, so the quick emotions were unrealistic at best, silly at worst. There were a few colorful enough characters thrown in, although they were generic players. It's slow pace wasn't easy to dive into, although Dailey's writing made it fly by quick enough. Only recommended if you're a die-hard fan of Daileys.