Bitchin' Blog Posts
Title: The Tycoon's Rebel Bride
Author: Maya Banks
Publication Info: Harlequin 2009
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ETA: I made a programming boo-boo and because of it, the grade on this review defaulted to an “A+.” The actual grade, as posted now, is a B. The review was also categorized as “science fiction/fantasy” - again, my bad. This was totally my programming error, and I am sorry for the confusion.
Maya Banks: You have my permission to smack me upside the head with the largest blunt object you can find. My apologies.
I have had to look up the title to this book four different times to recommend it, and at one point sent someone across the Barnes and Noble in Clifton, NJ, (Hi Sydney) to find it with the following instructions: It’s a May release. There’s a couple on beach. It’s yellow and red. It’s by Maya Banks. There’s a Tycoon I think. Or maybe a billionaire. He’s Greek!
Even the title of the file wherein I typed out this review is: “Banks Tycoon Something or Other.”
It’s tough to remember and distinguish between the titles when they are all so damn similar, and if folks miss this book because the people who have enjoyed it can’t remember the title, it’s a shame.
Cue standard character tropes:
Your heroine: Isabella Caplan.
- She’s a virgin.
- She’s younger than he is.
- She’s a ward of sorts - his family are the trustees to her inheritance, and they consider her their responsibility.
Your hero: Theron Anetakis.
- He’s Greek.
- He’s stern.
- He’s some sort of corporate magnate with a security team, multiple residences, and a fuckton of money.
- He has decided he should find a husband for her because she has just graduated and is about to come into full access to her estate - and he knows she’s bait for fortune hunting jackasses.
- He places himself in control of the vetting process for said husband candidates.
- He’s holding on tightly to the traditional rules and roles of his Greek family, including his own potential engagement to another woman, one who is acceptable and “a good match” but who absolutely does not light his fires in the least. Appropriate is more important than passionate, of course.
But uh oh:
- She has nursed a crush on him for years, and now that she’s grown up and moved past the adolescent fuglies into a seriously hot bod, it’s time to put on her big girl pants and go after the man she loves.
Cue the funky stuff!
Isabella is the sexual aggressor. She goes after him, knowing this is her one change to get him to notice her and pay attention to her within close confines. She’s in his apartment while she finds her own place. She asks him to help her with the process of finding an acceptable place to live, though she bristles at his attention to security. She’s constantly around him because looking out for her is his duty. He can’t help but notice her.
And notice her he does, and he hates himself for it. Despite being a virgin and relatively inexperienced, and despite being nervous that she might fail on an enormously embarrassing scale, Isabella knows she’s hot, and she knows how to get his attention. She wants a passionate marriage and she wants it with Theron. And once she figures out that he is attracted to her, she is going to make her play because once he’s engaged, he’s off limits to her - she doesn’t want to be the other woman, and she doesn’t want to wreck another person’s happiness. He resists as long as he can, but she doesn’t make it easy. And their struggle and attraction is delicious. It crackles.
Once she’s got his attention, though, there are some scenes that seemed totally out of place, and utterly wrong to their characters. Isabella’s best friend is an exotic dancer (Oh noes! Moral Turpitude in the traditionalist perspective!) and when her friend has a theatrical audition that might cost her the dancy-dance job, Isabella steps in and tries to dance in an exotic fashion. When Theron arrives just in time to see her take the stage, the scene doesn’t play out at all the way I expected. (Highlight to view spoiler.)
I didn’t believe for a minute that Isabella would freeze up. She’d dance. She’d maintain a distance and wouldn’t throw herself all over the bouncer with the shaved head and the soul patch, but she’d get her groove on. Isabella is brave and well aware of her own sensuality. But I guess having a Silhouette Desire heroine dancing on stage for men who pay to see her shake her bazoombas would not fit the mold.
Those moments of inconsistency highlight what I liked about this book, and what I found most frustrating: in the plot and in the characters, there’s a battle between old and new, tradition and experimentation. This is not your standard Harlequin/Silhouette novel, and the heroine’s vivacity and sexual awareness break a lot of the rules that define the traditional heroine. I’d love more books like this, because I love when tropes and the confinements of stereotypical female sexuality are turned on their heads. They reveal even more about the story and the people in it. She’s more powerful than you might expect, that assertive heroine, which is why some scenes that dismantle her firm autonomy rang so false and were so disappointing.
Theron is a traditional hero trying to live his life according to expectation, and here comes this younger woman who is off-limits to him, who sets him on fire and who seems truly interested in him, and not just his role as a potential husband specimen. Isabella challenges his expectations every other minute. What a refreshing virgin she is. Plus, the “other woman,” Theron’s potential fiancee, isn’t a bad sort at all, and neither is her mother. Both women arrive in the middle of the book with another expectation - but no one plays according to type.
The ending scenes, with the balance of the traditional hero, and the unique and sometimes clumsy enthusiasm of the heroine, were perfectly charming, and resolved almost all of the “what now?” scenes that didn’t fit. More stories like this will make me a very happy reader indeed.
Filed: General Bitching