Lynne Graham and the disappearing case of an As-If-O-Metre

I love a good As-If novel. For the most part, this is one of the most excellent aspects of reading category romance fiction. Plot lines are so absurd that they test a reader’s suspension of disbelief. Done badly, the reader rejects the story with disdain. But when As-If is done well, despite all the impossible, ridiculous plot bunnies you become lost in the emotional wellbeing of the two characters that you are reading about. So to test my As-If-O-Metre, I read Lynne Graham’s 99th novel The Sicilian’s Stolen Son.

Lynne Graham's The Sicilian's Stolen SonThe only link Jemima Barber has to her troubled late twin sister is her nephew. So when the boy’s father storms into their lives to reclaim the child that was stolen from him, Jemima lets the forbidding Sicilian believe she is her smooth seductress of a sister. Though his son’s mother might be gentler than Luciano Vitale remembers, he’s resolved to make her pay in the most pleasurable way imaginable. But when he discovers she’s a virgin, her secret is out! Now Luciano has a new proposal: Jemima can atone for her sister’s sins–by becoming his wife!

 

Continue reading

ShallowreaderBingo! May Edition!

It’s already the end of May and woot woot! A Willful Woman has won this month’s ShallowreaderBingo! Not only did she win Bingo early in May but she tells me she has scored a book for every single square! So excitement!!!

Seinfeld celebration - all four main characters are running and dancing on the spot with their arms up high.

As for me… *sigh* my own reading has slowed down due to having to do not-so-shallowreading (see my new page on this here blog). Stay tuned for the June Bingo sheet which will be much easier than May’s doozy! Link me to your own Bingo scorecards or tweet to me!

So my squares: Continue reading

Lynne Graham, Mills and Boon goths and dead dogs

I read Leonetti’s Housekeeper Bride close to 2 months ago and I’ve had this post in drafts ever since I finished it. I ended up having to reread it during the week as I couldn’t remember it clearly enough to review it. Ooops!

Any regular reader of my blog is well aware of the love I have for Lynne Graham and so I had to read this, her (99th correction!) 98th novel. And the thing that really stood out to me was that our heroine Poppy is a Goth. I have to ask – is she the first ever M&B Goth heroine? I can’t recall ever coming across any other M&B Goths so it is a first for me. A Goth called Poppy is rather a burden to bear though.

But first, the blurb….
Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 8.58.24 pmLeonetti’s Housekeeper Bride

Lynne Graham

Bingo square: Dead Dogs

His Innocent Wife… 

The last thing Gaetano Leonetti wants is to be shackled in marriage, but to become CEO of his family’s bank, his grandfather has decreed Gaetano must find a nice, ordinary woman to wed. 

Convinced his grandfather is mad, Gaetano sets about proving him wrong with housekeeper Poppy Arnold. With her outspoken nature and unusual dress sense, she’s definitely not wife material! 

But it’s not long before hardworking, self-sacrificing Poppy charms his grandfather and Gaetano’s stuck with a union he didn’t want and a bride he sinfully craves! Having set her up to fail, can he really take the precious gift of her virginity?


So the story opens with our hero Gaetano having a bad day. One of his parties had gotten out of hand, photos had been spilled to the media and revenge boy needed heads to roll because his Poppa is not impressed. The head that ended up rolling was Poppy – the household housekeeper. Continue reading

ShallowreaderBINGO! March edition!

It’s March and Willaful won the ShallowreaderBingo!!!! Woooooot! Big shout out!

 

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 10.41.16 pm

To this, I say congratulations!

giphy

Meanwhile, I didn’t even manage a straight line! However here are the squares that I did score:

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 11.11.25 pmLeonetti’s Housekeeper Bride

by Lynne Graham

Bingo Square: It was a dark and stormy night

Oh Lynne Graham novel, how do I love thee! Let me count the ways:

  1. Poppy, the Goth M&B heroine!
  2.  Heroine Chin Swag (see Miss Bates)
  3. Lots of Genre Meta
  4. Lynne Graham Zingers!
  5. Fake Fiance!
  6. Childhood crush!
  7. Virgin!
  8. The phrase “a dark, stormy night”
  9. And of course, lurve!

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 11.02.11 pm Continue reading

MORE Lynne Graham to kick off the TBR challenge 2016

My pleasure reading disappeared in December of last year. After posting my 2015 Favourites at the beginning of the month, though I planned on continuing reading, my physical self took a big long sigh, caught a summer virus that left me in bed for 3 weeks during which I didn’t pick up a single book. So, just like bike riding and swimming, when I reentered my reading shallows I did so with my favourite type of reading – category romance novels by the venerable Lynne Graham which luckily also matches the “We Love Shorts” theme for SuperWendy’s TBR Challenge 2016! I read Graham’s interconnecting novels The Greek Demands his Heir and The Greek Commands his Mistress, featuring the consecutive romances of two Greek half-brothers Leo and Bastien Zikos and their English rose heroines Grace Donovan and Delilah Moore.

Screen Shot 2016-01-21 at 2.41.27 PMThe Greek Demands his Heir

“Don’t be silly, Leo. Strangers don’t get married.” Leo Zikos should be celebrating securing a perfectly convenient fiancée, but it’s left him cold. Instead it’s stranger Grace Donovan’s impeccable beauty that fires his blood. So he decides to pursue one last night of freedom… But that night and the two little blue lines on the pregnancy test that follow blow Leo’s plans apart. Now he must break with his fiancée and marry Grace. She might resist marrying a man she barely knows, but Leo will claim his legacy and has all the riches and influence he needs to ensure his demands are met!

Grace Donovan, a medical student who is indebted to an uncle and aunt who gave her shelter (but not much love) from when she was eleven, has been coerced to go on a holiday to Marmaris Bay in Turkey with her spoilt cousin Jenna. She is a tagalong and once her cousin hooks up with a guy, Grace finds herself sleeping in their hotel’s foyer. After several nights of this, her cousin insists they go clubbing where she catches the eye of club owner and Greek billionaire Leo. The sparks fly, Leo (unbelievably) claims that he cannot dance but hells yes he is up for one last hook-up before he marries Marina, his betrothed. The reader meets Marina in the opening chapter and already knows that their engagement is a business agreement between two friends who have agreed that having intimate liaisons with others until they actually marry is fine. Leo, considering his hook up with Grace as a one-night stand doesn’t mention his engagement to her. The two of them get down and boogie and oooopsies! the condom they are using breaks. (In classic Lynne Graham dry delivery) Leo accuses Grace of “straining it” because…you know…her virginity was so tight the latex couldn’t take it. Continue reading

Lynne Graham’s The Sheikh’s Secret Babies

When it comes to Sheikhs in romance fiction I feel like that lone child at a birthday party, quietly whispering “I don’t like clowns” while all the other kids are keenly anticipating fun and laughter until that horror moment when the screen door slams open and a Margo Lanagan-esque Barry the Boisterous Bastard Clown blasts into the party thunderously shouting “Who’s ready to bust this partaaayyyy up” triggering tears from all the kids bar one jumping up and down shouting “More More More”.

[added after I received the first comment] Let me articulate that I am not scared of clowns. I want them to be funny. However, they are either failed slapstick AKA Fozzie Bear funny or downright creepy but rarely do they amuse me. The same goes with sheikhs. I want to like their stories. However, I want their culture to be a little bit more realistic and not whitewashed with western sensibilities. With alll due respect to authors who work hard researching their books, I have yet to find a Sheikh romance that culturally does not discomfort me through what is left unsaid. Lynne Graham has possibly achieved this with this book better than meagre few I have read for reasons outline below.

So it was with trepidation that I picked up this latest Lynne Graham novel. It had the makings of some of my favourite romance tropes:

Autobuy author – Lynne Graham tick
Billionaire – our hero tick
Secret marriage – tick
Secret babies (plural!) – tick tick!

But then there are a few not so favourite romance tropes:

Sheikhs – *sob*
Made up kingdom – *sob*
Man with a ponytail – *whimper*

All this from just the cover and blurb! However, Miss Bates reviewed this book over on her blog (which I have yet to read). The last time the two of us reviewed the same book we used the same quote. So, it is game on!

Lynne Graham's The Sheikh's Secret BabiesBut first, the blurb!

Twin royal heirs! Prince Jaul of Marwan’s royal duty is to marry a suitable bride. But first he must divorce the woman who betrayed him. Locating his estranged wife? Easy. The intense passion still burning between them? Manageable. Discovering he has two royal heirs? Impossible! Devastated when her handsome prince deserted her, Chrissie Whitaker’s beautiful twin babies were the only balm to her broken heart. Now Jaul will stop at nothing to claim his legitimate heirs, but can Chrissie forget their painful past and recognize him as her husband in every sense of the word?

Chrissie Whitaker is the younger sister of Lizzie who married billionaire Cesare. One small detail when I have to contend with a whole made up white-washed Middle Eastern kingdom called Marwani. *sigh* Why is it that the whole of Romancelandia can adore those Greek, Russian, Italian billonaires but you never hear of the Egyptian’s Secret Babies, or the Arabian’s Billionaire Bride? If we are going to be vague about borders why don’t we just say the European’s Hot Night with Consequences.  The men from the middle East deserve established countries, dammit! *rant rant*

…but let me return to Chrissie. Continue reading

More Lynne Graham love coming your way!

I am back on my Lynne Graham kick. I finished reading her latest about 2 weeks ago but work commitments have kept me from writing about it. The Billionaire’s Bridal Bargain (I do love an alliterative title) blurb:

The Billionaire's Bridal Bargain by Lynne GrahamTo love, honour…

Cesare Sabatino never intended to marry. But if his thoughts did ever stray in that direction, the lucky woman’s answer would have been a resounding ‘yes’. Imagine his surprise when Lizzie Whitaker turns him down on the spot!

…and possess?

To get his hands on her Mediterranean island inheritance, Cesare must wed innocent Lizzie…and ensure she’s carrying his heir! Luckily the formidable Italian is legendary for his powers of persuasion. With Lizzie desperate to save her family’s farm, it’s only a matter of time before she gives in…and discovers the many pleasurable benefits of wearing this tycoon’s ring.

Cesare “Not Caesar. We’re not in ancient Rome. It’s Chay-sar-ray” Sabatino (oh Ms Graham you made me giggle when you gave me instructions on how to pronounce your hero’s name) is a bit of a silly buffoon however he is a rich silly buffoon with a manservant called Primo to boot. Though he was betrayed by his first love, Serafina, and despite swearing off love and marriage (the hurt runs deep in this one), Chay-sar-ray loves his paternal Greek grandmother, Athene (I am annoyed that he calls her Nonna and not Yiayia, seriously – nonna in Greek is Godmother and I don’t care that the woman was married to an Italian – we need more culturally correct names in romance fiction) who has given up hope in ever visiting her birthplace because of a watertight will (yep – a top notch inheritance lawyer said so) stipulates that her family cannot visit the island unless there is a marriage that joins her family and the island’s owners. His grandmother, who brought him up after his mother died and his father remarried, is also giving up her will to live. Chay-sar-ray decides to be the sacrificial lamb for his beloved nonna/yiayia and says he will marry one of the two women who stand to inherit the island. He chooses the frumpier, older daughter as the younger, prettier girl is still at university and our hero is from the 21st century and not from the 1970s. Aside: I am not being rude about the 15-20 year age difference in many M&Bs of that time. It was also a reality – see Chuck and Di and their 13 year difference when they were betrothed when she was just 19. Continue reading

TBR Challenge: Nik and Prudence: a love story

I’m a SuperWendy TBR challenge cheat. Not only am I posting about a book that, though I have reread it many times, I did not reread it this month, it is also a book that is 9 years old (published 2006) so it does not meet the “10 years and older” criterion for this month. But I am all for breaking reading rules so consider this my teen blogging rebellion.

I wrote most of this post last year but it has been sitting in my drafts waiting patiently. I recommended Lynne Graham’s The Greek’s Chosen Wife to Miss Bates Reads Romance and she slayed Romancelandia with her awesome review that has made us all judge heroines by the tilt of their chin ever since. How do I compete with a chin winning review? I don’t. First of all, my review was written months before Miss B wrote hers – I just had not found the right time to post it. Secondly, mine is more rambling thoughts than a structured review and thirdly, Miss B focused on aspects of the book that I did not address. So here is the warning: between my review and Miss B’s you have the whole story. It becomes way too spoilerish:

The Greek's Chosen WifeA wife on his terms?

It’s been eight years since Prudence’s arranged wedding to Nikolas Angelis. Their relationship was never consummated and they have always lived apart.

But now Prudence longs to have her own baby and she wants a divorce. However, Nik is horrified — he is her husband and he will be the father of her child!

Prudence reluctantly agrees to a trial marriage with Nik. But conceiving his baby? That’s not a risk she’s willing to take…

I adore The Greek’s Chosen Wife. Prudence is one of my favourite of Lynne Graham’s heroines. This story is about 2 very young adults (19 and 22) being forced into marriage by their families. Nik because his father’s gambling has bankrupted his family and Prudence because her grandfather will not assist her in supporting her alcoholic mother unless she does as he asks. Continue reading

Sydney Writers’ Festival bucketlist 2015 and a quickie Lynne Graham mention

For a variety of reasons, it has been 3 years since I last attended a Sydney Writers’ Festival week. Once again, this year looks like I will be in minimum attendance as I have work, student marking, 2 funerals to go to, and just as God takes away he also gives, a dear friend gave birth yesterday so I have many other places I need to go to. Despite all this, I have still marked up my bucketlist:

Beyond Dukes and Damsels

I am rather pleased at the inclusion (finally) of a romance panel at SWF2015. I would say this has been due to Kat Mayo and the rest of the Bookthingo crowd’s tireless advocacy *cough lobbying cough*. Jodi McAlister and Kate Cuthbert will be on the panel as well as authors Victoria Purman and Avril Tremayne. I have not read any of their books but I do have Miranda Neville’s The Duke of Dark Desires on my TBR (that’s close enough for me). I can’t help but feel cynical about the inclusion of one romance event. I think that it is rather unimaginative of the organisers and tokenism sucks. I’m all for shaking up reading/writing expectations. I think true inclusion won’t be reached until romance authors are included in the broader panel discussions on readerly issues and when those of us who do read romance don’t feel the need to exclaim “Oh wow! We have even a tiny presence”. I think we have a way to go, but in the meantime I will enjoy the occasional event. Baby steps for romance fiction. And of course – Yay Jodi! Goooooo Kate! Continue reading

The End of my year of reading

At at glance, 2013 looks like a less productive reading year. My 20ish titles that I listed on GoodReads as opposed to my 367 the previous year would suggest that I haven’t been reading. However, it is that my reading habits have changed. After my huge glut last year, I decided to stand back from recording every title I read. There are about 30-40 picture books that I have not listed this year. I have listed all the novels I have read, yet even these have dropped in number. This can be attributed to several things.

Firstly, my fiction reading has diminished considerably since I upgraded my Masters research to a PhD. It is hard to dedicate myself to hefty tomes when I need to read through the history of collection development tomes. To add to that, I haven’t included all my academic books. My list would be much larger if I did. Continue reading