His Revenge Baby: 50 Loving States, Washington by Theodora Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I will be blatantly honest. If I was rating this book by part I, it would be getting three stars and nothing more. However, the book in whole gets four. The beginning of this book is probably one of the most unromantic starts to a romance I've ever read. A hero who has a serial history of paying for mistresses for six months for the better part of ten years but is so tied up and proper, they can't even call him by his first name? The heroine interviewing for him naked? No thanks! She's not allowed to touch him or be seen with him and has to call him, Mr. Nakamura. She does all the work in bed?
No is really unsympathetic and actually rather robotic at the beginning. I don't even understand why he would hire mistresses. He seems like he shouldn't even have a sex drive. He is so tied up and controlled, it's hard to believe that he could fall in love with a woman. Much less have sex with so many women. Perhaps that's his only outlet, but I would have found this more believable if he had actually been more reactive in bed. I get where the author was going with this. She wanted us to see how being with Ana changes No, and how she was different from other women. She wanted Ana to stand out from the crowd, but it was too gradual for my tastes.
Lili/Ana I liked from the beginning. I have to say she really loves her brother and niece. I don't know if I could interview naked to be some rich guy's mistress for my family. Thank God I haven't had to do that! She does have a sense of innocence, but at the same time, she is remarkably blase' about the paid sex thing. I think without her internal monologue, I would have been very confused.
Japan seems very real in this book. I felt as though the author is very well acquainted with it and rather in love with the country. I've read books set in Tokyo, but not in Osaka. It was lovely to get introduced to that city. It's always good when you read a book and it makes you feel like you're visiting the place.
Now, I am the biggest Harlequin Presents fan on the planet, and the mistress scenario is a big plot in that line. I can't say I've ever been a huge fan of mistress stories, but I'm not averse to a preposterous plotline that works well. It was certainly something different. Overall, despite it's start and some parts that I didn't gel with, I walked away from this book satisfied. I wasn't sure I wanted to read it, but I was intrigued, so I read a sample on my Kindle. I ended up borrowing it from Amazon and finishing it in less than 24 hours. That says a lot right there.
As to the sex. I think that the initial sex scenes are way clinical to me, and I didn't like the thing that No would do to make Lili climax. All I can say is 'ouch!' I didn't care much for the blunt sexual language. I'm not a big fan of that. It's not that romantic to me. I'm fine with descriptive sexual scenes, but not with some of the descriptors. Lust is easy to find, but where's the love and romance?
I really love Asian guys. It's a huge surprise to me how much No didn't appeal to me for the first part of the book. He did start to appeal to me when he gets mad and decides he wants revenge. He actually starts acting like a human being and not a robot at that point. I like pissed off No much more than Billionaire, Proper Japanese Businessman with an Erection But No Other Emotions No. I liked how he changes and thaws and starts reacting normally. I know that his family is seriously screwed up. I realize that Japanese culture is very rigid in expressing emotions and requires strict public etiquette. I liked him much better after he comes to the US to start a company with his friend and to get revenge on Lili/Ana and his father. Angry No is Hot No. At the beginning, I didn't find him attractive because he seemed so emotionless. I did kind of like how proper and buttoned up he was, but I would have preferred if he turned into a wild man in bed instead the way he has sex with Ana for their six months together. I also liked how he nursed her when she was sick and how he seemed to want to spend more time with Ana, despite his intentions. While I normally like a coldly ruthless hero, I think No didn't work for me at the beginning because he wasn't cold in the still waters run deep, but too robotic acting.
One thing that made this book stand out, but in some ways had a problematic execution was the thread of suspense/thriller that ran through it. I had no idea how cutthroat the Japanese businessworld is, at least based on this book. I don't know how much of that's true, but the fact that No's family is samurai on both sides gives their behavior an authentic feel. When you find out how truly heinous the behavior of a certain person is, it's chilling. This makes for a much darker than book that one would expect. I think it was problematic in that some of the action aspects weren't well described. I'm picky about action scenes, because it's a huge love of mine. And when you throw in katana-wielding ninja and samurai, my expectations go up very high. But, despite that, I found it charming.
I like over the top when it's done well. The OTP in this book was done charmingly. I could have been a little better executed, if I'm honest. But despite that, I did have a smile on my face when I finished the book.
I have been hard on this book, and i realize that. I do think Ms. Taylor is a gifted author. I have such a deep love for interracial romance, I am hard on the genre. I hate that the romance part seems to be taken for granted. I think Ms. Taylor seems believe in romance, but with a bit of a more jaundiced eye than I would like. I'm excited to read His Pretend Baby: 50 Loving States, Oregon
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