His Virgin Acquisition by Maisey Yates
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The blurb on this book got my attention when I received it in the mail with the monthly shipment of Harlequin Presents. I liked the idea of the heroine approaching the hero for a business-oriented marriage, and him turning the tables on her by making their marriage a real, physical one. I can honestly say I wasn't disappointed. I found Maisey Yates' writing to be very solid in this story. I liked how she skillfully used narration and dialogue to reveal the characters to me. She shows a skill in using language to write a vivid, enjoyable story that I didn't want to put down until I had finished it. His Virgin Acquisition definitely makes me want to read more by this author.
On the downside, I found that I didn't like Marco at all for most of this book. I found him to be arrogant, sexist, dismissive, judgmental, and rather self-absorbed. In fact, he was borderline narcissistic. I don't mind a hero who has some of those traits as long as he has some element of self-deprecation and the ability to see himself clearly and to laugh at himself when necessary. I got the impression that Marco really thought he was 'all that and a bag of chips', and Elaine was lucky he had condescended to marry her, since he was way out of her league. I understand that his rough childhood and betrayal by his parents had hardened him, but I needed to see more of his vulnerabilities to accept his flaws.
Another big issue I had was this: I think that he failed Elaine in a very glaring way in this story. A man who had pretty much destroyed her career prospects by telling lies out of spitefulness insulted her blatantly and publicly, and Marco did nothing. And this was after he agreed to marry Elaine. I didn't want him to start a fight at a very elegant function, but I think he should have at least told the guy off. Even if he believed the rumors about Elaine, she was now his fiancee', and I couldn't believe he wouldn't stand up for her, especially since he was a pretty possessive man. I did like that he humbled himself signficantly at the end of this book. That's the only reason, he's not going on my 'hero I can't stand list.'
As for Elaine, I really liked her. She had a cool head. She was very intelligent, and she was determined to make a success. I thought her drive to gain control of her father's business was very fair. I could understand how hard it was for her to succeed in a sexist environment. Although I don't think a woman should have to look frumpy (ever), I could understand why she downplayed her looks and strived to show a professional appearance, instead of trying for a bombshell look in an environment where she did not to be judged by her sex or her looks. What happened to her was pretty awful, and it made me angry. Marco's callous acceptance of it added to my anger at the miscarriage of justice that had been perpetrated against Elaine. I have to admit that for most of this story, I thought she was way too good for Marco. I was ambivalent about how sexually susceptible to him she was. I wish that we had seen more of a mutuality in this. We did see that Marco was attracted to her, but he didn't seem to need/want Elaine quite as much as she did him, at least for most of this book.
The fact that I've written such a long review of this book is telling. Ms. Yates definitely me engaged me as a reader, and that goes a long way towards winning my affections as a reader. I just hope that she tames down some of the unlikeable, uber alpha traits in her heroes in future books.
I recommend His Virgin Acquisition with some reservations that I've elucidated above. I think most fans of Harlequin Presents would enjoy this story. It was nicely steamy and pretty emotional, with a heroine that I really liked.
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