Lynne Graham: Ruthless Magnate, Convenient Wife

(Year 2009: ISBN 978 0733 598654)

Let us start by spoiling the end of every Lynne Graham romance that we have read.  Heroine bears the hero’s child.  Heroine is rewarded with an expensive piece of bling (hate that word).Oh and did we mention that there is usually an element of blackmail to reach to this point?

It would be hypocritical of me to feign outrage at the heroine’s plight when the blurb would hardly be characterised as circumspect about the plot.  Hero Sergei Antonovich wants to grant his Babushka her dearest wish of being a great grandmother.  What other means than to do this by treating a prospective marriage as business contract.  Really, because using the services of a ‘gestational carrier’ is a bit too economically explicit and exploitative in Harlequin world.

Now to have the heroine Alissa Bartlett consent to this arrangement fully informed would cast doubt upon her moral virtue and we can’t have that.  Enter, the morally bankrupt identical twin sister Alexa who has no qualms in assuming the identity of the other to enter into aforementioned contract.

As mentioned in the previous entry, it is insufficient for the character to be amoral or even engage in criminal activity.  Her card is marked by either a distinct lack of maternal instinct or substance abuse (as is the case with Sergei’s former wife).

When did the …miscarriage happen?’ Alexa repeated, turning to stare at her sister with a frown of bemusement. ‘Don’t be silly, Allie.  That story was only for Harry’s benefit.  There never was a baby.  I was sure you would have worked that out for yourself by now.’

Alissa stared back at the slim blonde woman in stunned disbelief, for Harry had not been the only person affected by that inexcusable pretence.  Alexa had used the threat of abortion to pressure Alissa into taking her place as Sergei’s wife. ‘Never? You were never pregnant? I’m sorry, I find that very hard to believe after some of the things said to me.’

‘It suited me to pretend I was pregnant,’ Alexa told her defiantly. ‘And the worse thing about all this is that now even Harry suspects that I was lying all along.’

‘My word, does he?

‘After a shot gun wedding, what man wouldn’t be suspicious? I told him I had a very early miscarriage that didn’t require medical attention, but I’m not sure he’s convinced….Why on earth did you get us all involved in your lies?’…

For the money, of course! Alexa gave her a look of scorn. ‘You do ask crazy questions sometimes.  Once I found out I’d have to get pregnant to fulfil that contract with Sergei, I knew there was no way I could ever face going through with it and that I would have to have over the opportunity to you.  I mean even the thought of ruining my figure with a pregnancy turns my stomach!’ (pp.163-164)

Convention dictates that before the heroine can sail into the sunset with the hero she must vanquish any potential rivals whether it be the former wife or the sexually aggressive relative. Freed from any moral ambiguity victory over these archetypes is hallow.  Frankly, we are bored by it.

All in all, it is a typical Lynne Graham with above average cover art.

UPDATE:Read Bookthingo’s review here.

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