Heat Factor: A bonfire in her pelvis
Plot: He comfort seduces her immediately after her father’s funeral. She gets pregnant, but doesn’t tell him. He finds out anyway and coerces her into marrying him.
Overall: I have so many concerns.
My concerns about this book run the gamut. I am concerned about the love story. I am concerned about the characters. I am concerned about the writing. I discuss a sample of these concerns in this review, focusing on the ones that seriously impeded my enjoyment or that have real-world implications. (Yes, smut matters and is political.)
Let’s start with the most obvious problem here: we have an exotic hero who “claims” a white woman. (Authors Nisha Sharma and Suleikha Snyder also weighed in on this aspect of the book.) I will admit that I was seriously side-eyeing the premise of this book, but figured I’d take a chance – maybe it would surprise me?
It did not. Or if it did, it surprised me that Harlequin published this nonsense in 2020.
Jai, our Indian Prince, has an inherently passionate nature (!!!) which he keeps tightly under control. He also has ice blue wolf eyes. Graham mentions that his eyes are light blue no less than 33 times; this book is 240 pages long, so that’s once every 7 pages. So just in case you forgot, he’s Indian, but also **not like other Indians**. And of course, since he’s an Indian prince, no one – including family members – has ever said no to him. (Until the heroine, of course.) Because the patriarchy is alive and well in India, but not in England, obviously.
And then, when Jai and Willow head off to India to live in his palace, things are exotic, but not too exotic. We live in sumptuous rooms, but there’s air conditioning. There are tons of Indian servants, but don’t worry, they speak beautiful English. We eat beautiful meals in a beautiful dining room, but luckily dinner was English chicken with no spices. We see tigers from the porch, because of course we do.
Willow, our heroine, is very self-abnegating. I would describe her as: a total martyr. With a side-helping of low self-esteem. Who, of course, thinks she’s not beautiful, what with her long blonde hair and flawless skin and emerald eyes and petite frame.
Furthermore, she explicitly states (more than once) that her night of sex with Jai (reminder: immediately following her father’s funeral) woke her up from living her life in a dream. Not because she ended up pregnant, but the physical action of having sex with him.
It was everything she had dreamt she might find in a man’s arm and it felt right as well as good, gloriously right as if she had been waiting her whole life for that moment and was being richly rewarded for her patience.
She puts all her hopes and dreams on this guy who she barely knows, because they connect in this cosmic sense (or something), and now her life will be better.
Of course, they don’t immediately stay together. And when she finds out she’s pregnant, not only is she single, she’s 21, homeless, and unemployed. But she decides to keep the baby so that she’ll have something to love because she’s all alone in the world. I’m sorry (not actually sorry), but that is a fucked up reason to have a child. I am not the audience for the whole “we had a kid so we must get married” trope, but this kind of thinking happens all the time and the fantasy that the baby daddy will come back and rescue you from poverty (because he’s a tech billionaire slash prince) and also fall in love with you validates extremely selfish behavior.
With a martyr heroine and an extremely domineering hero, you might imagine that they have an unhealthy relationship. Red flag after red flag after red flag. I mean, just look at the plot.
And once she agrees to marry him – because entering into a loveless marriage with someone you don’t know is DEFINITELY the best thing for your child – Jai whisks Willow off to India, where she has no social system or support of any kind. And of course he doesn’t trust her, and of course she blames herself when he gets unreasonably angry about nonsense and tells her she did something unforgivable (spoiler: she didn’t).
Maaaaaaaybe I could forgive terrible characters in an unhealthy relationship perpetuating dangerous fantasies if the writing were good, but it wasn’t. In fact, it was distractingly bad. Particularly the sex writing. The thing about the bonfire in her pelvis? That’s a quote.
She also has “pouting breasts.”
Addendum: I was asking my husband what a “pouting breast” would look like, and he told me he’d heard the phrase before! So maybe the “pouting breasts” are a callback to…Airplane! (Unlikely.)
And this happens: “pushing her back and plunging into her so hard and deep that her neck extended, and her head fell back.” (Note: he is plunging into her vagina, this is not some extra scary version of deep throating.)
And also this: “the delve of his tongue into the moist aperture of her mouth,” which is perhaps the most disgusting phrase I have ever read in a romance novel.
I voluntarily read and reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. We disclose this in accordance with 16 CFR §255.
Buy Now: Amazon
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