Hohoho, I read another one of the 16 Harlequin free books this weekend, this time the Presents line (according to Amazon, this one belongs to the subset Pregnant Mistresses!!). This one is the line I think of where the hero does those punishing kisses. Harlequin says the heroes are "ruthless, dark and powerful". Indeed.
The setup: Katherine (Kate) is a researcher for a publishing house, who is pregnant with the baby of Drake Daniels, a wildly famous author whose "speciality was constructing tough, gritty, anti-heroes who were rude, crude and lethal to know". He often disappears for months, no one knows where, to write his novels, but Kate has figured out that he has a house in Oyster Beach, New Zealand. She follows him there to try to break the baby news. Kate and Drake and he have a "no strings" relationship, and Kate believes the only reason she's lasted two years with him was because she never sleeps the night and never disturbs his work. Both are the product of tough childhoods, she has an ambitious, cold mother who had no time for a kid, and his father walked out on his mother, who was so grief-striken, she eventually committed suicide, leaving Drake to take care of himself.
Overall: The best Harlequin I've read so far. I'd recommend this one. If I graded, I'd say B+?
What I liked:
- I loved that this wasn't set in the U.S. The writing has a New Zealand slant, and uses non-American words for certain things. Quite a refreshing change.
- The banter was fabulous, both of them using lines from classics and old movies on each other. It flowed well and was fun to read. You really feel a connection between the characters and the romance felt believable because of it.
- Kate I liked for keeping in character most of the time by exuding a calm exterior even when she's nervous, she may be thinking about something that will reveal her secret, but she doesn't do anything TSTL. Basically, she was good at recovering and I liked that she had spine.
- Drake is very manly and whatnot. Do people like this exist? He came off extremely gruff at first but then warms to a "hard shell, soft center" kind of guy. Drake had one really big jerk moment in the book, but he did grovel afterwards and admitted his communication issues so he was decently likeable overall. He is also dyslexic which made him a bit more human.
- They both had childhoods that reasonably explained their actions; like Kate learning from her mother never to bother someone when they are busy with their career or life, which is why she thinks Drake doesn't want her bothering him.
- Cute pets. A three-legged dog (!!) and a kitten who squeaks. And they move the plot along, not just there to be cute.
- My favorite lines in this book:
"'I'm not good with words -"
Her eyes widened. 'Drake, you're a writer.'"
I guess my only nits would be that a couple of things were a little cliched. Maybe Drake sometimes. And the description of him on the first page made me roll my eyes. She too is drop dead gorgeous of course, with almost silver eyes. Mmm hmm. And something about the ending that was a bit too pat.