(By the way, if spoilers bother you and you’re planning to read this book, don’t read this review. I don’t recommend that you read this book, either, but hey, to each her own, even when her own is appallingly bad.)
So, let’s look at a list of the cheeseball Harlequin Romance cliches we know and love so well, and see how well Response covers these, shall we?
Is the hero a Greek tycoon type? Check.
Squicky boss-secretary relationship? Check.
Totally iffy secret marriage scenario? Check.
Super-extra-iffy revenge plot? Check check.
Big misunderstanding? OH GOD CHECK.
Motherfuckin’ AMNESIA? CHECK CHECK CHECK CHECK CHECK CHECK.
Really, do I need to say more? Are you guys truly such suckers for punishment?
What am I saying? I’m addressing the people who check our website faithfully on Mondays to see our cover snarkage. Of course you’re freakin’ masochists. In which case: read on, little pilgrim, read on.
Sienna, Virgin Extraordinaire and Ingenue-at-Large, is working for a temp agency in London as a freelance secretary when she’s assigned to an OMGHUNK of a Greek billionaire, Alex Stefanides. The usual chestnuts apply: she sees him and the world stands still; his hand brushes against hers casually, and she feels as if he’s just given her a tonguebath naked, ad nauseam. But she’s but a mere secretary. There’s no way Alex could be interested in her, right?
But to her surprise, Alex does display an untoward interest in her, and in no time flat succeeds in teaching her how to play Hide the Schmeckie.
Then, just when he has the tender young miss in his grasp, OMG HUGE REVELATION TIME: apparently Sienna’s older brother had done Alex’s sister wrong at some point in the past, and the shaggenating and the seducerating was all a big old revenge ploy.
To Jordan’s credit, this bit of silliness is resolved soon enough, as Alex finds out through his sister that he’s full of shit. I perked up a little, but alas, my hopes were dashed most cruelly—almost as cruelly as little Sienna’s head against the fender of a car.
Oh yes. During an overwrought conversation with Alex, Sienna runs outside, right into the rain and the bumper of a London taxicab and loses her memory. At this point, it would’ve been kinder to us readers and a whole lot more interesting overall if she’d just been killed outright and then have Alex embark on a hot homosexual affair with Sienna’s brother (COCK PARTY AHOY!), but no such luck. Instead, Alex marries Sienna in a fit of remorse, even though she can’t remember who she is, though she seems to remember she likes the cock well enough.
Yes, mouseketeers, you read right. This isn’t just a revenge ploy book. It’s a revenge ploy book with an amnesiac bride. What an awesome surprise. It’s like going to the free clinic to get your chlamydia treated, only to find out you have tertiary-stage syphilis. (Retrograde amnesia plots: It’s the tertiary syphilis of romance novels! Authors please take note.)
What will happen to our intrepid young lovers? Will Sienna regain her memory? Will the truth behind the circumstances of her marriage ever be revealed? Will any of this be explained with any semblance of believability? Will Sienna realize that a dickhead who would seduce and dump a girl solely to avenge an imagined wrong and then marry said girl without her consent is probably in-fucking-sane and she should run away as fast as her wee amnesiac feet will allow her to? Will the Chicago Cubs ever win the World Series again?
The only thing that saved this book from an F was the novelty of the format. This book is one of the Harlequin Ginger Blossom series of manga comics published in conjunction with Dark Horse. The artwork is pretty, and the purple ink provided the whole enterprise with just enough kitsch value so I ended up laughing incredulously instead of chucking the book against the wall, and really, throwing things is NOT a solution, because what if I’d accidentally hit one of my cats? Then I’d have a pissed-off cat AND a shitty book that’s no less shitty for having hit the wall. It is kind of bizarre to come across manga conventions like the little sweat-drops of consternation and the chibi eyes in the context of a Harlequin romance, but overall, the incongruity distracted from the awfulness of the book.
Oh, I was also disappointed that the sex scenes were very, very discreetly rendered. I’ve read a few Penny Jordan novels in my time, and they’re usually pretty spicy. Does my disappointment make me a perv? (Like I don’t know the answer to that without asking the question, ha!)
I honestly can’t imagine why anyone would read this book, because it’s neither fish nor fowl nor meat—though tofurkey might serve as an apt comparison. Diehard Penny Jordan fans would probably enjoy the full-length novel better, and manga fans who’ve never made forays into Harlequin novels would probably be puzzled or bored by the soap opera lite feeling of this book. If Dark Horse started translating books that were actually GOOD into this format, like some of the old Anne Stuart category romances, or even something by Vicki Lewis Thompson, this line would have the potential to be a lot of fun. As it is, I can only parrot what I said earlier: Bleurgh!