No Way to Begin by Michelle Reid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
No Way to Begin is a weak four stars read. I found the passionate aspects very appealing. I loved that Anton is a possessive, jealous hero (one of my favorite types of heroes), and that he fell like a ton of bricks for Nina months before the book takes place. That part of the story reminded me of Secrets of a Summer Night (Wallflowers, #1) by Lisa Kleypas where Simon falls for Annabelle and indulges in a lighter form of heroine stalking. Yes, the stalker-type hero isn't for everyone, but I like them. Don't judge me! I don't condone real-life stalking at all. I also like that he clearly is willing to do anything to get her, and in his own rough way tries to take care of Nina.
On the other hand, I think some parts were a bit dry. I don't know if it was a mood thing. I have gotten where I love to see a lot of snappy dialogue and back and forth between the couple in a romance book, and so the older books don't seem to have that as much. I think good dialogue builds up and enhances the chemistry and dramatic tension in a romance book. I felt that Nina was a bit too much the fainting/wilting heroine. I do have to acknowledge that for a 20-year-old who is not worldly, that makes sense, but I wished she was a bit more feisty at some times. Yes, she does do the slapping/hitting thing when cornered, but that's not really what I consider feisty. I think I prefer a heroine who is mouthy and can tell the hero off when it's warranted. Not in a fishwife type way, but a don't cross that line with me kind of way--setting boundaries. I do give her props for how she got her mother-in-law told. I wish she had done that a little more with the hero. He was older and a bit on the domineering side and I feel she should have established some boundaries a bit more with him. I guess I have to take into consideration that she felt she was in a rock and a hard place. One part that really annoyed me was when Anton tells Nina she has to give up college. Oh, my blood pressure went through the roof on that. Because, why? His excuse is he wants her with him. It felt more like a 'my wife doesn't need school because I can take care of her and I want her dependent on me and at my beck and call' sort of thing. That attitude always gets my goat. Might not bother another reader at all, though.
So I think four stars is fair, because some things really worked for me:
*I love the blackmail marriage scenario!
*Possessive/Jealous/Stalkerific heroes give me shivers in a good way!
*The ending was great when they both lay their emotional cards on the table. That alone helped to bump this book up a notch when I was feeling a bit bored.
*Although this is a fade to black book, I thought the sexual tension/chemistry parts were off the charts.
*Good visuals of Greece, and the use of symbolism and allusions to Greek mythology to draw the contrast between Nina's redhead English looks and Anton's dark Greek looks worked for me.
*The reveal on Nina's father's enmity towards Jason, her first beau, and what had gone on with her mother--classic vintage HP drama!
I forgot to add one thing I didn't like:
Anton calls Nina a bitch like four times near the beginning. Hard to describe the situation without spoilers, but I am not fond of verbal abuse, so it didn't work for me.
Overall, a good read. I'll add this to my keeper shelf, although I prefer Michelle Reid's newer books overall.
I recommend it to fans of forced marriage and intense, stalkerific heroes who are magnetic and signficantly older than the heroine.
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