The Innocent's Dark Seduction by Jennie Lucas
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
This book is full of Harlequin Presents' most tried and true tropes, and I wanted to punch the hero Roark's lights out in the first page, and that only changed on a few of the pages in this book. But somehow, I ended up liking this book.
This book is not for a hardened cynic who cannot appreciate some of the silly aspects of Harlequuin Presents novels when used to good effect in a story. I don't feel that the approach was at all silly. This was a book that kept my interest and engaged my emotions. However, the book does have the ruthless hero who goes through women like Kleenex, who can afford to donate $21 million dollars just to get a woman, who feels no remorse about ruining a man's business because he's a bad businessman, and who thinks he can have any woman he wants by snapping his fingers. Not to mention a heroine who was married for ten years and is a virgin widow, has a baby in secret and keeps it from the hero because he said he didn't want a baby and because he ruined her family's life. Not to mention turns into Play-Doh because of his kisses, even though she cries "I hate you," when they come up for air. And lastly, there's the marriage and bedding for revenge.
At times I rolled my eyes at Roark's antics, and Lia's foolishness, but I ended up getting sucked into this world. They were human beings, not robotic automatons that don't make mistakes or act silly. The love scenes were very passionate and steamy, and the dialogue was interesting. I really do like the way Ms. Lucas writes dialogue.
Roark had a backstory that was a lot more intriguing than most of the HP heroes. His father was a Spanish-Canadian ice road truck-driver who married a New York heiress. That's kind of different. And although he pissed me off for most of this book with his arrogance and ruthless sense of entitlement, I did feel that the dumb lug came to his senses and went after what was important to him. Lia wasn't one of those heroines who never acknowledged the wrongness of what she did. She realized that it was wrong to hold the knowledge of baby Ruby from his father. And she had the courage to go after what was important to her also.
I think Ms. Lucas is fully cognizant that she is writing within a genre and series that has some established expectations, and she embraces it. She might have her checklist of what must be included, but she does a great job of writing a dramatic, engrossing romance that you can't quite dislike, despite some of the obvious patented story elements. Thus I have to give this book 3.5 stars.
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