(ISBN: 0 733 56832 7: Year 2006)
It boded ill that this was not the first time this book sat languishing on the shelves at the Salvos. A ‘keeper’ this certainly is not. It read as a series of permissive narrative devices allowed by Harlequin hastily cobbled together to meet a looming deadline. Consequently, any semblance of a relationship developing between the hero and heroine was absent.
We open with the not too unfamiliar scene of the hero Theo Savakis being threaten with disinheritance unless he procures a bride. Cue entrance of Miranda Weston, another in a long line of heroine whose insecurities have been writ large by a unsightly cicatrix acquired in vehicular accident.
The journey to the resolution (where the hero will organise corrective surgery for the heroine) is a rather tepid affair. We are subjected to the often inane ruminations of the heroine, “She was free from any emotional entanglement and therefore could attend to practical matters, like food and who would sleep where, while Theo spent time with people who would undoubtedly be as distressed as he was.
It was a woman thing, Miranda realised. Theo was wounded, and her natural instinct was to care for him…(p.134) Cue eye-rolling.
For a character who we are repeatedly assured is intelligent comes across as rather dense. Lexie, initially posited as the potential rival is the one who has to explain the Savakis family dynamic to Miranda and the motive for his marriage. Miranda at least should have twigged to the former.
Annoyingly, Stephens breaks the cardinal rule of adhering to the novel’s internal logic. To precipitate the emotional crisis hence the resolution, the mono-linguist Miranda is inexplicably able to read a will written in Greek. This again reinforced the impression of a looming deadline. Various characters faxing to each other rather than emailing in 2006 was just another irritant.
Perhaps if the cynical Lexis was the heroine it may have being more interesting read. Verdict: Think this one will be recycled.