Julie is the worst kind of romance heroine. She’s passive, constantly angry and uptight, and endlessly “no-means-yes”. She has no real drive or interest in anything. No career plans. She has ended up engaged to creepy older man Adam, her late father’s business partner. She’s so pathetic she just can’t stop herself cheating on him – even going off with the hero right in front of Adam at a party. She manages to let him “abduct” her on a yacht, by voluntarily stepping on to it. And then failing to jump off and swim away. And then failing to grab the radio phone and call for help.
Not that we feel very sorry for prissy old Adam. He doesn’t like “bare arms” and manages to bitch about the heroine wearing “casual” jeans when she’s driven hours to pick him up from the airport. And we feel even less pity when it turns out he’s played Father Figure since she was seven. I don’t mind a bit of age gap or guardian/ward, but this is sheer grooming:
Julie shook her head. “I knew nothing about it, of course. I was only about seven at the time, and when Mummy died he sent me away to a convent school, and I only used to see him in the holidays, and not always then. It was Adam who came to speech days and sports days and replied to my letters.”
Dan hunched his shoulders. “I guess that’s what makes him think he has the right to look after you now.”
Julie shrugged. “Adam was always very fond of me. Even when he and Daddy—what I mean is, he was always the same with me.” She caught her lower lip between her teeth. ‘I think sometimes Daddy resented Adam’s affection for me, but I don’t think he really cared about anything after Mummy died,” she added, unable to disguise the break in her voice.
The hero, whom I’ve only just got around to mentioning because he’s that dull/shallow/clichéd, is Brad or Bud or something. I’ve actually forgotten and I was only reading the book earlier today. [I just looked it up – it’s Dan]. He’s one of those dreary billionaire-heir types, who yachts about and is only interested in Julie for her looks. Seriously. We are half way through the book before they ever hold a proper conversation. Brent has been spying on Julie swimming from some telescope for days before he finally shows up at the lake and starts thrusting his tongue down her throat.
I love Anne Mather as a writer generally. She’s written some of my favourite ever Mills & Boon/Harlequin romances. Green Lightning. Melting Fire. Witchstone.
But here, she’s painting by numbers in the style of Little Britain’s Dame Sally Markham. Let me treat you to a little excerpt of dialogue:
“My father believes it’s important to know something of the real world before entering the cloistered halls of banking,” he explained, with a wry grimace. “He says it’s no use handling money if you have no conception how it’s made. He thinks there are too many people in finance who come to it cold—straight from business school—without any background knowledge. Economists deal with paper assets, they handle millions of dollars, but it’s only paper money. Even the gold standard is a man-made institution. Gold itself is worthless—it doesn’t have the properties of uranium or the cutting power of a diamond. But in 1812 the UK adopted it as a monetary system, and since then it’s achieved international status, but what does it really mean? The ordinary man in the street isn’t allowed to own gold in any quantity, there aren’t even any gold coins any more, and even the standard itself is open to criticism. For one thing it makes it difficult for any single country to isolate its economy from depression or inflation in the rest of the world, and it’s terribly easy to forget, when you’re handling such enormous amounts of money, exactly whose sweat and toil have gone into making it.”
Julie smiled. “So you did some sweating and toiling yourself?”
“You better believe it;” Dan grinned. “I’m sorry if I’m boring you, but it’s something I feel strongly about.”
“You’re not boring me,” Julie protested vehemently. “I’m fascinated, honestly. I didn’t know there was so much to learn.”
Wake me up when it’s over.