Wife By Contract, Mistress By Demand by Carole Mortimer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Does step-sibs getting together turn you off? You might still like this book. Gabriella fell like a ton of bricks for her new stepbrother Rufus. He saw it and ultimately gave into her amorous advances. Well sort of. Then he walks away. From then on, Gabriella hates him. Five years later, they are brought back together by a clause in Rufus' father's will that states if they don't marry, Rufus will lose control of the family business, a department store chain, and fifty million dollars to his feckless cousin. Gabriella gets half of the fortune if she marries and lives with Rufus for six months and she gets ownership of the restaurant in the London store. The problem is she can't stand Rufus and he doesn't respect her. He thinks she's a gold-digger, like her mother (who wasn't) and his ex-wife, who he had to buy off to get custody of his then infant daughter. Gabriella has another incentive to marry Rufus. She can't stand his cousin since an altercation that occurred three months prior, and the idea of his inheriting is detestable and the implications it would have for her. Can they make a marriage work, even for such a short time?
I liked this a lot. I admit I was a bit turned off by how Gabrielle just melts like a ton of bricks whenever Rufus touches her. It doesn't shed the best light on a heroine who is so gaga over someone who thinks so little of her. However, that's more or less standard vintage HP fare, and I think that it's apparent that she's still deeply in love with Rufus, although her so-called loved has appeared to turn into hate. I would have liked Rufus to treat her better and not be such a jerk to her, even though I knew it was because he did have feelings for her and was afraid to feel for her, due to the situation with his ex.
I really liked Gabriella. She had grown into a pretty strong woman and had a good head on her shoulders. I liked that she was a chef and made a pretty good career for herself in the five years (although she did have a financial crisis that made her need a loan from her step-dad, which of course made her look bad to Rufus). She managed to hold her own against Rufus, for the most part, although she did have a bad case of putty knees for him. I like how she gently takes on the role of stepmother to a reluctant and spoiled stepdaughter who really does need to have more discipline for a father who spoils her too much.
I gave this four stars because it had drama, passion and angst, and a likable heroine. Rufus was a bit of a jerk, but with this line, that's not a deal breaker. A nice older HP to keep me busy for a couple of hours.
View all my reviews