His Marriage Ultimatum by Helen Brooks (c)2006
Another book picked up as part of the Great Book Purge of 2012. I could probably count this as part of the TBR challenge that SuperLibrarian is hosting, although I’m posting a day early.
This reads like a pretty typical backblurb for Harlequin Presents:
A bride for the taking?
Carter Blake is sued to getting his own way — he didn’t become a billionaire by taking no for an answer! And he has to have shy, virginal Liberty Fox. He’ll charm and seduce her into becoming his…
But Liberty is not ripe for Carter’s picking. To possess her, Carter is forced to make one final ultimatum…he will have her and hold her in matrimony. . . if that’s what it takes!
Billionaires! Virgins! Ultimatums! Oh my!
1. Although the hero is very wealthy and became so after a youth of relative poverty on a council estate, it isn’t explicitly stated (that I recall) that he’s a billionaire. A mention of his first million and his connections in various places, as well as a vague statement about real estate and entrepreneur are really it. Beyond that, it’s very clear that he is New Money, and that he’s not that far removed from the poverty of his youth and some of the people who knew him at the time.
2. Liberty Fox is not shy. At no point was she ever shy with Carter. In fact, she’s pretty belligerent and mouthy with him at the outset of the book, giving him a hard time about anything and everything she can. And even once the belligerence is gone, she remains pretty resistant to following where he’s leading.
3. There wasn’t really much overt seduction. There is no sex (and just a little foreplay) until the very last pages of the book. And it was marital sex.
4. The blurb implies that he’s forced to propose, when in fact, he proposes because he wants to and has to work to get her to even consider marriage. He’s the one who realizes he loves her first, who wants to make things permanent, who acknowledges that their original agreement (nothing heavy) isn’t working for him any more.
I especially loved this passage early on, when the two are discussing the viability of long term relationships and marriage:
“You’re saying you would voluntarily choose a solitary lifestyle?” Well you have, the voice outside himself pointed out sharply, and when he answered it with, But I’m a man, that’s different, he felt instantly appalled at himself. Both in his work life and his love life he had always held to the view that women were equal with men in every way, and it was galling to discover he was as male chauvinist at heart as the next man. More than galling.
Readers get a fair amount of Carter’s POV, which is a positive aspect: he’s by turns bewildered by his attraction to this woman, and frustrated by her intransigence when it comes to any sort of commitment, and yet also just completely gobsmacked by her. Liberty is a pretty sympathetic heroine, too: she’s got mommy issues but recognizes them, appears to be good at her job, self-sufficient and with a life that suits her…until Carter comes along.
Would I recommend this book to the average reader? Maybe not, because it does contain some standard HP tropes (billionaire, virgin, etc.). But I would recommend it to other HP readers.