As you may remember, I was recently in the mood for the angsty, over-the-top crazy that Harlequin Presents provides. Alas Million Dollar Christmas Proposal was a little too sweet to satisfy my craving.
Luckily, The Consequences of That Night by Jennie Lucas was just what I needed.
Emma Hayes is the housekeeper to Cesare Falconeri, a self-made, hotel magnate billionaire. Cesare depends on Emma—she’s Pepper Potts to his Tony Stark. Only Emma can get everything right. She’s even the only person who irons his sheets correctly.
(I am not making this up, FYI).
Cesare is used to one night stands with models and actresses, all of whom are portrayed as being too thin and vapid. All of them immediately want more than just sex from him; the boning is just that good. Only Emma is emotionless and rational in Cesare’s world of sobbing, clingy females.
If you’re getting vibes of ‘offensive’ and ‘sexist’ here just roll with it. I make some allowances for Presents. The heroes all have peens made out of catnip for models and socialites. They can’t help it, man.
Part of Emma’s daily tasks, aside from ironing the bedding, is escorting Cesare’s latest conquest out the door and presenting her with a parting gift.
As his housekeeper, she was the one responsible for arranging morning-after gifts for his one night stands. Usually Cartier watches. Bought in bulk.
You stay classy, Cesare!
So anyway, because she doesn’t act like a “typical woman,” Cesare starts to view Emma as a friend. At least, they are friends in his emotionally fucked-up world. Emma is still acutely aware that she’s just his employee—even if she’s been in love with him from afar for years.
When Cesare finds Emma sobbing over the death of her stepmother one night, he comforts her the only way a Presents hero knows how—with his penis.
Emma says they can skip the condom because she’s a virgin and she’s infertile (despite the fact that she knows that Cesare has slept through half of London. OMG. My skin crawled reading that). Of course, after their one night of deflowering and passion, Emma becomes pregnant.
You see, Emma once had ovarian cancer and was told she would never be able to have a baby.
But as we know, Presents’ heroes have magic sperm that can undo any sort of infertility. I’m convinced that a Presents heroine could have a full hysterectomy, and her Italian Tycoon Amnesiac Boss would still get her pregnant.
And even when they do use condoms? Fuhgeddaboudit. A Presents’ hero’s little swimmers shoot through latex like laser beams. It’s all part of the magic.
So anyway, Emma knows that she has to move on because Cesare can never be the father her baby needs. He’s made it clear that his “heart is buried with his wife.” His late wife, Angélique, was French and really a horrible person (but Emma doesn’t know this). So she tells Cesare that she’s quitting and he has a fit because she was the one woman he didn’t expect to get all emotional and ridiculous after sex.
Emma moves to Paris, taking another job with another billionaire. Then, almost a year later, Cesare runs into her in France and realizes her baby is his and ooh la la.
Most of the book is Cesare railing against the fact that he might have a real emotion buried deep inside him. He offers to marry Emma, but he believes that it will be a marriage in name only because sex will only complicate things (this from the man who earlier denied that sex and love were in any way related). Emma, being awesome, holds fast that Cesare is going to be a real husband and father or he can go to hell.
It was all the angst, the crazy alpha-hero melodrama, and secret baby joy that I was looking for. Sadly, it did not have ocicats. My new standard for a Presents hero is that he has some kind of exotic pet or a pool-room-sex-jungle.
It did, however, have:
1. Emma and Cesare having sex on a bed covered in money (which in reality is squicky because money is really dirty).
2. Cesare buying out the restaurant in the Eiffel Tower at a moment’s notice.
3. Angélique’s brother showing up unexpectedly to save the day—at one point in a speed boat.
The Consequences of that Night is the kind of goofy fun that I relish from Harlequin Presents, but would drive me nuts from any other genre.
I am admittedly a sucker for housekeeper/nanny/secretary turned mistress stories, though. It’s a great read for a Presents fan looking for some crazysauce fun.