What I’ve been reading (with bonus algebra!)

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these and so the answer is quite a lot. I’ll spare you some of the more mediocre reads.

Here’s the summary:

A Study in Seduction by Nina Rowan
I had been waiting to read this since it came out last year because, hello, mathematician heroine, but boo, geographical restrictions. I am not sure it was worth the wait. I didn’t warm to either of the main characters much and I didn’t really believe that Lydia was a mathematician. We’re told that she is, a lot. And she knows lots of formulae and things, but she doesn’t really think like a mathematician. About halfway through, she sets a maths problem for the hero. Which I then had to solve before I could read any further and since my maths is pretty rusty it took a while. I think I have solved it but I get a different answer from the heroine (but I think her answer must be wrong, unless she’s dealing with complex variables). Finally I have solved it! Answer below. I am happy that this took me considerably less than the two weeks which Lydia allowed Alex. Also, authors, please put the solutions in the back of the book! Or at least, on your blog. Some of us care about these things.

The One She Was Warned About by Shoma Narayanan
Sweet, undemanding, a little bit predictable India-set M&B romance. Narayanan’s style is different from other books in the Modern Tempted line, but I like it.

Girl with the Cat Tattoo by Theresa Weir and Geek with the Cat Tattoo by Theresa Weir
I was never planning to read a book narrated by a cat. And I was relieved to discover that neither this nor the sequel are entirely from the cat’s POV. It was cute. I think I liked Geek better than Girl. I’m happy to have read both but I would quite like pet romances not to become a Thing. (F, don’t read Geek. Someone is mean to the cat. I think you’re safe with Girl, if you want to try it.)

A Night of Southern Comfort by Robin Covington
Fun category romance with a side element of suspense.

The Italian’s Suitable Wife by Lucy Monroe
The Greek’s Innocent Virgin by Lucy Monroe
The Sheikh’s Bartered Bride by Lucy Monroe
Um, so M&B are digitising some of Monroe’s backlist and I am powerless to resist. The Sheikh’s Bartered Bride is very like her more recent Prince of Secrets. The Greek’s Innocent Virgin is a not-completely-secret baby book. And The Italian’s Suitable Wife has a hero in a wheelchair for much of the book. Sometimes I thought that was handled pretty well – there isn’t much unnecessary detail about how he manages to do things in his chair, and he’s very much still the alpha male, in control of everything, whether he’s on his hospital bed (he starts off in a coma) or in the chair. And I liked very much that at the beginning of the marriage, they clearly have a sexual relationship which is satisfying for her but does not involve penetrative sex. Because she is a M&B heroine, she is a virgin at the start, and it’s clear that the hero considers himself to have taken her virginity even though there has been no PIV sex. However, the next scene has the hero beating himself up about not being ‘whole’ and not being able to make love ‘completely’. His impotence fuels the major conflict in the second half of the book and I was not impressed with the way he dealt with it at all, and the consequence it had for his wife. So, um, I guess I’m not recommending this one. Which is a shame because it has some great scenes in it too.

Love and other Scandals by Caroline Linden
Bought and read on the strength of MFOB’s review. Light on the historical accuracy, and with an irritating motif of an erotic book for women called Fifty… But a nice courtship and characters who I wanted to get their happy ending.

Promise of Happiness by Betty Neels, Damsel in Green by Betty Neels, Saturday’s Child by Betty Neels, Enchanting Samantha by Betty Neels
Some of the best Neels I’ve read, thanks to some recs from Sunita and others.

The Lady and the Laird by Nicola Cornick
Disappointing. I’ve read and enjoyed other books by Cornick much more than this.

The Prince of Pleasure by Sandra Marton
Didn’t like the set up for this, didn’t believe in the plot, didn’t care enough for the characters to let the rest go. Not her best.

Reforming the Playboy by Inara Scott
Didn’t love the set up for this either – one of those tricksy wills that I don’t really believe in. But after that it was great. Two artists, former lovers, lots of creative tension.

Mr Right There All Along by Jackie Braun
Oh, this was another great rec from someone. Sweet, funny and just lovely.

The Chocolate Temptation by Laura Florand
I do love Florand’s voice and style, so as I was reading this I was swept along with it and sighed happily at the end. But I admit even while I was reading that I had to find a creative solution to the sexual harassment at work issue, and I had some doubts about the heroine’s backstory. And afterwards, reading Brie’s comments here and Willaful’s here, I’m not sure I’ll read it again, or at least not with such pleasure.

The Sheikh’s Bride by Sophie Weston
An old M&B but a great one. Not sure if it’s available in ebook, but you may be able to find a second hand copy.

So, that’s me. What have you been reading?

*The problem is this: If a+b+c=6, a^2+b^2+c^2=8, and a^3+b^3+c^3=5, what is a^4+b^4+c^4?

Here’s my solution:

(a+b+c)^2 = a^2+b^2+c^2+2ab+2ac+2bc = 36
(a+b+c)^3 = a^3+b^3+c^3 + 3ab^2 + 3ac^2 + 3ba^2 + 3ca^2 + 3bc^2 + 3cb^2 + 6abc = 216
= 5 + 3a(b^2 + c^2) + 3b (a^2 + c^2) + 3c(a^2 + b^2) + 6abc
= 5 + 3a (8 – a^2) + 3b (8 – b^2) + 3c (8 – c^2) + 6abc
= 5 + 24a – 3a^3 + 24b – 3b^3 + 24c – 3c^3 + 6abc
= 5 + 24(a+b+c) -3(a^3 + b^3 + c^3) + 6abc
= 5 + 24×6 – 3×5 + 6abc
= 134 + 6abc

So 6abc = 216-134 = 82
abc = 82/6

(a+b+c)^4 = a^4 + b^4 + c^4 + 4ab^3 + 4ac^3 + 4bc^3 + 4ba^3 + 4ca^3 + 4cb^3 + 6a^2b^2 + 6a^2c^2 + 6b^2c^2 + 12(abc^2 + ab^2c + a^2bc) = 1296

If a^4 + b^4 + c^4 = n, then

n + 4a(b^3 + c^3) + 4b (a^3 + c^3) + 4c(a^3 + b^3) + 3a^2(b^2 + c^2) + 3b^2(a^2 + c^2) + 3c^2 (a^2 + b^2) + 12abc(a+b+c) = 1296

n + 4a (5-a^3) + 4b (5-b^3) + 4c (5-c^3) + 3a^2(8-a^2) + 3b^2 (8-b^2) + 3c^2 (8-c^2) + (12 x82/6 x 6) = 1296

n + 20a -4a^4 + 20b – 4b^4 + 20c – 4c^4 +24a^2 – 3a^4 + 24b^2 – 3b^4 + 24c^2 – 3c^4 + 984 = 1296

n + 20 (a+b+c) – 4(a^4 + b^4 + c^4) + 24(a^2 + b^2 + c^2) – 3(a^4 + b^4 + c^4) + 984 = 1296

n + 20×6 -4n + 24×8 -3n +984 = 1296

-6n = 0

n = 0

Review: The Bridge

I don’t normally post blurbs, but this time I will:

Henry meets Christa on the west tower of the Brooklyn Bridge, just as they’re both about to jump off and kill themselves. Despite his paralyzing depression–and her panic over a second bout of cancer–they can’t go through with their plans knowing that the other is going to die. So they make a pact–they’ll stay alive for 24 hours, and try to convince each other to live.

From the Staten Island Ferry to Chinatown to the Museum of Modern Art–Henry and Christa embark on a New York City odyssey that exposes the darkest moments of their lives. Is it too late for them? Or will love give them the courage to face the terrifying possibility of hope?

I read this because Cecilia Grant picked it as one of her top romances of 2013. I would not normally have picked up a book with this premise but I think I am glad I did. It’s a tough book to read – none of your romantic fluff here – but worth it. These kinds of people don’t often get talked about in romance novels, for obvious reasons, but Maher makes it work.

The Bridge

Author: Rebecca Rogers Maher

Publisher: Promised Land Books

Date: 2013

Cover Art:bridge

It’s a good cover that accurately reflects the tone and content of the story.

Hero: Henry. He is not a hero, but he is the male protagonist of a romance novel and that’s the convention. He’s suffered from depression since his early teens. This is not his first serious suicide attempt. He comes from a wealthy family and his closest relationship was with his nanny. He’s good at his job, he’s good-looking, he’s got everything he could want. He hates life. He hates the world. He hates the depression. The portrayal of Henry’s mental illness absolutely rang true for me. I haven’t ever reached Henry’s suicidal depths, but I have had depression and I recognised some of Henry’s suffering in my own.

Heroine: Christa. I think she is a heroine, actually, as well as by the romance convention. Christa had none of the privileges that Henry grew up with. An addict mother, an absent father, a husband who left her, and now a sister who followed in her mother’s footsteps, Christa is alone in life. Sure, she has friends but she feels she’s used up the support they can offer her the first time she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Right now, she’s got no one.

Other: Not really.

Marriage: Not even close. The ending is about as optimistic as you could realistically imagine given the set up of this book, but it’s clear that this is only the beginning. It’s more about the future being a possibility than about determining what the future will look like.

Enjoyment factor: I was nervous about reading this because of the subject matter and I can’t honestly say that I enjoyed it. But it was compelling and I cared enormously about both Henry and Christa. I wanted them both to find a reason to live and as the book went on I wanted them to see that they could each find that reason in the other. I would certainly recommend this book to others.

Epilogue: No.

The other thing I was thinking about while I read this was a tedious piece of commentary on the romance genre that I read recently which, among other things, was trying to draw comparisons between Ian McEwan’s Atonement and romance novels. The Bridge reminded me of a different McEwan book, Saturday. Both books take place over the course of a life-altering 24 hours. Both have a strong sense of place, being precisely located in large cities. Both discuss issues of coincidence, fate or divine providence. Saturday isn’t a romance novel (by any definition), it’s a much longer book, and it has different goals. The Bridge is a romance novella and as such it works. I was invested in the relationship between Christa and Hugh from the start and was glad to see them come to the resolution they find at the end. But I think it would be possible to read The Bridge as literary fiction too. It’s an exploration of what drives people to end their own lives and what can make it possible to draw back, and on that level, I think it holds up pretty well against the McEwan.

Reading and aftertaste

I don’t drink things with artificial sweeteners in them. It’s not the taste that I don’t like, it’s the aftertaste. Ugh. A couple of the books I’ve read this week have had unexpected aftertastes for me. But first, here’s what else I’ve been reading:

Fools Rush In
, Janice Thompson. More inspie reading. I struggled through this one, mostly because the setting and the humour are just not my thing at all.

Backstage With Her Ex
, Louisa George. New to me M&B author. There was lots I liked about this and I would read her again.

Turn to the West,
Sara Seale. M&B first published in 1953. I enjoyed this very much indeed, so thanks must go to Sunita, who recommended Seale and a handful of other vintage M&B authors. It’s a boss/employee story and in addition to that, there’s a big age gap. And yet Seale managed to make it work without the power dynamic becoming too imbalanced.

One of the Family
, Mary Burchell. M&B first published in 1939. I really liked this. The characterisation of the mother is masterful. In fact all the secondary characters are very well done. It’s a lot longer than modern category romances and I really appreciated that. But this was one of my aftertaste books. Once I’d finished reading and got to the wonderful happy ending, I couldn’t get the publication date out of my head. I couldn’t let myself forget what 1939 entailed and what it would mean for this couple and their family. I don’t know if M&Bs were published throughout the war – I have a vague memory of paper shortages meaning that lots of publishers had to cut back. There is just one line in the book that hints at the wider political situation, when the heroine says that ‘it’s a daily thing now for people and even whole nations to shirk their decent responsibility…’ Indeed. I have one more vintage M&B left from the boxed set I bought on Amazon for 1p, and it was first published in 1947. I’m very curious to see whether the war and its after-effects are mentioned. There was still rationing in 1947, for instance. I will report back when I’ve read it.

Author: Jenna Dawlish

Publisher: E-scape Publishing

Date: 2009

Cover Art:

love-engineered2

love engineered

The copy I bought has the first cover. The second cover was the one listed at the Book Depository. I don’t like either. They are classic amateur book covers using one stock photo with inappropriate and distracting typography. The stock images aren’t particularly eye-catching in the first place and don’t signify romance to me. Plus I’m not sure which historical period was the one where women wrapped themselves in curtains and tied the tassels round their necks. The amateur treatment of them makes it even more likely that I would pass over this book. I didn’t because (1) it was free, (2) Victorian Lady Engineer!, and (3) it was shortlisted for an RNA award, so I was hopeful that the writing might be pretty good. (Spoiler: it wasn’t.)

Hero: Charles Lucas, engineer. A bit like Brunel, but not as good or as famous. From a middle-class background; his father was a lawyer. He is… okay, I guess? At one point he jumps to conclusions, so that there can be a Big Misunderstanding. Mostly he’s pretty nice, but a bit blah. He has a sister who conveniently becomes friends with the heroine, and a business partner who pushes him to become friends with the heroine so that she’ll invest in their bridges.

Heroine: Louise Thomas, secret engineer. I just didn’t buy this at all. I mean, I would LOVE books to be written about secret and not-secret lady engineers. But I didn’t believe that Louise was one. There was nothing about the way she talked, the questions she asked or the so-called experiments she undertook that made me think for a second that she had a scientific mind. For example, she first meets Charles after hearing him lecture about a new bridge he is building. She asks questions about working conditions for the labourers, how to pick contractors, and whether Mr Brunel would have won the contract if he had entered the competition. She does not ask anything about loads or tensions or pivots or balances or indeed anything to do with the engineering. And then she is irritated when other people start to ask questions about things that she considers basic.

Other: Cartoon villain. Wholly superfluous friend from Louise’s village who accompanies her on wholly superfluous trip to Paris where NOTHING HAPPENS. Several engineers. Charles’s mother and sister. Louise’s cousin whose only role is to make Charles think she’s going to marry him. She isn’t. This is not the Big Misunderstanding, it is a Medium-Sized Misunderstanding.

Marriage: Yes, blessedly brief in its description.

Enjoyment factor: I can’t remember the last time I’ve been so bored by a book. 24% of the way through I contemplated giving up. I made myself carry on, in the hope that it would improve. It didn’t. I wanted it to. I really wanted to read an awesome book about a Secret Victorian Lady Engineer. I hope someone else will write one. But this book suffered from tedious prose and lack of narrative structure. There were a lot of strands that could have been brought together in much more exciting ways. I’d love to see what a Courtney Milan or a Sherry Thomas would have done with this plot.

Epilogue: Hahahahaha! This was the main reason I wanted to review this book. If you look on Amazon or Goodreads or wherever, you’ll find lots of reviewers getting excited about this book being based on a true story. Spoiler: IT ISN’T. The epilogue is written in the form of extracts from encyclopaedia (a MADE-UP encyclopaedia) entries for Sir Charles Lucas, Lady Louise Lucas, and Robert Adams, the pseudonym for the Secret Victorian Lady Engineer, Louise Thomas. It’s quite well done and is possibly the most imaginative writing in the whole book. But, still NOT TRUE. There is no International Institute For Female Engineers and they do not award the Robert Adams Award for Excellence in Engineering. Sorry if you’ve read this and I have just dashed all your illusions.

So, I didn’t enjoy reading the book, but it also had an aftertaste. Partly from seeing the reviews, which made me think a lot about when fiction tips over into deception. I don’t think there was any intent to deceive in Love Engineered. Readers who confuse an Epilogue for an Author’s Note are clearly wrong. But I’d just finished reading this when someone tweeted about a different book that had false information in an Author’s Note, and it did make me think about how easy it is for authors to mess with readers heads.

But mostly I’ve been wondering how on earth this book ended up on an RNA shortlist. RNA prizes aren’t quite RITAs. We don’t have such a big romance industry here in the UK. But they are still prestigious awards. I just don’t know. Maybe it’s a matter of taste and other people loved this. Maybe there aren’t many nominations to choose from. Maybe I’m missing something.

In which I review a book I didn’t like

Because I can.* But first…

What I’ve read this week:
Stranded with a Scotsman, Serenity Woods (short story with big clunking Truth or Dare plot device, didn’t love it)
Pandora, Jilly Cooper (re-read, still brilliant as always)
The Change in Di Navarra’s Plan, Lynn Raye Harris (requires higher than normal suspension of disbelief, even for an HP)
The Cubicle Next Door, Siri Mitchell (I’ve been reading inspies for an new religion and romance post; it was okay)
The Boss’s Bride, Brenda Minton (ditto)

And this week’s pick for a review: Sleigh Bells in the Snow

(Note: I’m twitter friends with Sarah.* In the past she’s been kind enough to send me free copies of a couple of her books, but I paid for this one. Full price, even though it was later heavily discounted. Yes, I’m cross about that.)

Author: Sarah Morgan

Publisher: Mills and Boon/HQN. It’s Morgan’s first single title for Harlequin/M&B and I was excited to see what she’d do with the extra wordcount.

Date: 2013

Cover Art

 

US cover:
us cover

UK cover:
uk cover

I don’t love either of these. If I were not already a Sarah Morgan fan I don’t think either would have got me to pick the book up. On the other hand, as a Sarah Morgan fan, I do like the way her name is huge on the US cover. That’s a sign of confidence in her that is well-deserved. But that upside-down Spiderman kiss? That always looks weird to me.

Hero: Jackson O’Neil, CEO of a series of luxury winter sports hotels in Europe. Now back at home to drag the family business back into profitability, despite the help of his family and with the help of a PR genius he’s brought in from New York.

Heroine: Kayla Green. Single, British, twenty-something, hates Christmas, has truly awful parents who messed her up badly. Works for a PR company in New York. Has never been to Vermont in winter, but is willing to go for work and to escape Christmas. Unfortunately Christmas is waiting for her in Vermont, along with Jackson’s loud, chaotic family, home and business. All her worst triggers, in fact.

I admit, I never really bought into Kayla as the PR genius. Her presentation to the family was so ill-judged, that even if it had been made in a boardroom with everyone in a business suit, it would have been a disaster. Basic research would have helped with that, as well as with some more sensible packing. I’ve never been to Vermont in winter either, but I’d have made sure I had snow boots to wear. To be honest, you need snow boots even for New York in winter.

Other: Cast of thousands, mostly related to Jackson. I was most disappointed with this part of the book, actually. There are two secondary pairings, one of which appears early on in the book and I was at least expecting that one to be resolved by the end. That’s part of what I like about the longer single title books, is that they have room for a secondary romance. But no, these were both sequel bait. There’s a storyline about Jackson’s niece which parallels Kayla’s backstory in some respects. There’s a grumpy grandad, who comes round in quite a nice way. There’s a puppy.

Marriage: This was where it really went wrong for me. I’d been mostly enjoying the first 80% of the book. Jackson and Kayla’s romance was going slowly and cautiously. She has a ton of baggage and they only have a week together, and I liked that they weren’t racing to the altar. Except that at the end they are. The proposal comes out of nowhere and I absolutely didn’t buy the eventual outcome of it.

Enjoyment factor: So, okay, I am maybe more of a Christmas grump than most people, but I set out to enjoy this book and wanted to be drawn in to the magic of Christmas at Snow Crystal. There were some really good scenes and, like I said, I did mostly enjoy most of the book. I guess maybe my expectations were just too high, because by the end I was pretty disappointed. I’d been hoping for something a bit different. Sarah Morgan’s category romances usually deliver all the promise of the Presents/Modern line but with an extra dash of humour, reality and depth. I didn’t feel that here. It was fine. It just wasn’t exceptional.

Epilogue: No, but there be sequels ahoy. I will probably read them. And if they aren’t Christmas books, there’s a good chance I’ll enjoy them more than this one.

*I’ve been thinking about this a lot in light of recent and ancient discussions. The conclusion that I’ve come to is that I wouldn’t be willing to write a negative review of an Entangled book, so I won’t review any Entangled books. Books by Entangled authors writing for a different publisher/self-published are fair game, however, for negative or positive reviews. Books by other authors I know in person (there’s hardly any of these) or online are also fair game, but I’ll make sure to mention any connections I have upfront.

Review of the week (hah!)

So, two months ago I said I was going to try to review one book every week. Hahahahahaha!

Sorry about that. But hey look, a review!

What I’ve read this week:
Blush, Nicola Marsh (it was okay)
Million Dollar Christmas Proposal, Lucy Monroe (I loved this)
The Admiral’s Penniless Bride, Carla Kelly (I liked this quite a lot)
Anything for You, Sarah Mayberry (I like her Superromances better than her Blazes, but I did enjoy this)
Fate is Remarkable, Betty Neels (It’s a Betty Neels. That’s all you need to know.)

And this week’s pick for a review: What The Bride Didn’t Know

Author: Kelly Hunter

Publisher: Mills and Boon Modern Tempted.

Date: 2013

Cover Art

 

US cover:
bride]

UK cover:
brideuk

Hey, look, it’s the same couple! And the same title! Released the same month! Almost like they aren’t trying to fool people into buying the same book twice any more. Awesome. I don’t love the covers and I don’t think they quite capture the Turkish setting of the book or the characters, but it’s not a bad effort. For once, I think I slightly prefer the US version. The blue of the M&B framing detracts from the image.

Hero: Adrian “Trig” Sinclair. I am not telling you how he got his nickname but it is AWESOME. Trig has been friends with the West family forever and served in an elite intelligence unit with Jared and Lena, right up until Lena got shot and Jared went missing (this is mentioned in the earlier books, Flirting With Intent and Cracking the Dating Code. You should read those, not because you necessarily need the backstory for this book, but because they are some of Hunter’s best work. And her best is very, very, very good indeed.) Trig is strong, clever, kind and desperately trying to be honourable towards his best friend’s sister.

Heroine: Lena West. It’s pretty tough being a clever kid in a family of geniuses. When you come top in the state for maths aged 17 and know that both your younger siblings are already streets ahead of you. When you have to work for things that come easily to them. Lena is competitive, courageous and self-doubting. She’s also just spent 19 months in rehab after being machine-gunned down on an operation. She’s a mess of scars and walking is hard work. There is a certain amount of ‘what could Trig possibly see in me?’ which I think derives partly from her injuries and partly from being the normal one in a family of extraordinary people. Mostly, she’s pretty good at not letting this become maudlin self-pity, and when Trig tells her how he feels, she accepts it.

Other: Jared. Who barely has a speaking role, but is all over the book. I want Jared’s story NOW ALREADY. Also brief appearances from Damon and Ruby, and Sebastian and Poppy from the other books in the series. Several Turkish taxi drivers.

Marriage: Yes, and multiple proposals, all of which are very sweet indeed.

Enjoyment factor: What’s not to love about a book that begins with someone doing trigonometry? Also, this is possibly the first amnesia book I’ve ever enjoyed. There was a point where I just wanted to shake Trig and make him tell Lena what was going on, but mostly I bought into the reasons for keeping things secret. I liked Trig and Lena together right from the start, and I liked the scenes before the amnesia which helped to ground what came next. I really loved Ruby’s relationship advice, too.

Epilogue: Yes, the wedding. No magical infertility cure, hooray! Also, no magical disability cures, hooray! The wedding was lovely and also, did I mention, I need Jared’s story NOW ALREADY.

I really liked this book a lot. I think it probably does work best if you’ve read the previous books in the series, but for me that is simply an added bonus since I love this whole series.

Review of the week

I know I’ve said before that I want to start reviewing more again and Liz’s post has prompted me to actually do it. My plan, such as it is, is to post one review every week. It won’t necessarily be the best or worst book I read that week, just the one I want to talk about. I read quite a lot of backlist titles as well as newer books, so it won’t always be a book that everyone else is talking about. In fact, it probably won’t be. I’m not in the business of accepting review copies, so you’ll know it’s a book I paid for (or downloaded for free if it happens to be on offer). I’m also not in the business of reviewing authors, only books.

What I’ve read this week:
The Wedding Dress Diaries by Aimee Carson (this is a freebie M&B novella)
Scandal in the Regency Ballroom (includes No Place for a Lady and Not Quite A Lady) by Louise Allen
Faking It to Making It by Ally Blake
The Ruin of a Rogue by Miranda Neville
Lost to the Desert Warrior by Sarah Morgan

So, here goes with this week’s pick for a review:
Author: Ally Blake

Publisher: Mills and Boon Modern.* It is RIDICULOUS that the kindle versions of M&B books don’t have workable tables of contents.

Date: 2013

Cover Art

ukcover

 uscover

I like both covers. I think the format of the UK covers is stronger, since it avoids the type getting hidden in the picture. I also like that the author names are bigger than the titles.  The ‘to’ on the US cover is all but lost as is the author’s name. But both covers capture the feel of the book and the characters reasonably well.

Hero: Nate Mackenzie. Aka Studmuffin33, sorry NJM. Studmuffin33 is the one she doesn’t pick. Because, oh yes, this is an online dating agency book. Nate needs a wedding date, for a wedding his sisters aren’t invited to, in order to get his sisters off his back. No, I don’t know why either. Nate’s father died when he was young and, because he was The Man Of The Family (he has 4 sisters and no brothers), he had to deal with Too Many Emotions at an early age. So now he doesn’t want any more emotions. Because that’s how it works.

Heroine: Saskia Bloom. Sassy statistician. No, really. She and her friend run a company which makes  infographics. I thought that was quite a cool job, actually. She’s been hired by the dating website to make  them an infographic, and apparently this entails setting up a profile and going on a date. No, I don’t know why. Anyway, she passes over Studmuffin33, in favour of NJM. And, well, the rest of the plot is contained within the title of the book. They fake their relationship for a bit. And then it stops being fake. Nate freaks out. And then he gets over himself. Cue happy ending.

Other: Gabe, Nate’s business partner, who I think was the hero of a previous book I haven’t read. Nate’s sisters, who merged into one. Saskia’s business partner Lissy who has a brief fling with Bamford, a computer geek who is one of Nate’s clients. And Ernest the dog who likes Oreos.

Marriage: Not Nate and Saskia’s.

Enjoyment factor: I enjoyed a lot of this. Nate and Saskia are good people and fun to spend time with. It’s a fairly standard buttoned-up guy meets slightly-out-there heroine and learns to relax a bit. I didn’t really buy into the reason for Nate’s emotional blinkers. I did believe in Saskia’s previous disastrous relationships and I could see how the kind of person she is would lead her into the kind of conflict in the book. I didn’t like Bamford at all – which is to say, I didn’t like him as a person, but more, I didn’t like the role he had in the book. In fact, I didn’t think he needed to be in the book at all. I couldn’t see what he added to it.

Epilogue: Yes, though I’m not sure why it wasn’t just the last scene of the last chapter. It’s a cute scene but it doesn’t do anything much. No marriage, no babies. They haven’t even moved in together.

*So I had this whole spiel about Modern Tempted, aka RIVA, aka Modern Heat, aka Harlequin Kiss. Seriously, pick a name and stick with it. But it turns out this was published as Modern in the UK and Presents in the US, which undermines all my points. It definitely read Tempted to me. I do love the over-the-top ridiculousness and intensity of Modern/Presents, but these books tend to be a little bit more normal and fun, and sometimes that’s what I want in my reading. For my take on what distinguishes these line, see here. Since I wrote that post, Mills and Boon/Harlequin have managed to co-ordinate the UK and US releases of their books and I think they now use the same titles, but I could be wrong about that. It’s always safer to check.

1 2 3