Wednesday, 30 March 2011
365 books in 365 days Challenge ... book #14
The Count's Blackmail Bargain - Sara Craven
Mills and Boon Modern
Harlequin Mills and Boon, 2006
In the Count's Bed By Request
Harlequin Mills and Boon, 2011
From the back cover:
"For handsome Italian Count Alessio Ramontella, seducing women comes as naturally as breathing. In his private as well as his public life Alessio has only two requirements, first that success and satisfaction are guaranteed, and second that all his dealings are discreet, low-key affairs conducted between mutually consenting parties...
So bedding Innocent English beauty Laura Mason should be effortless. She's sweet, beguiling, and obviously shyly attracted to Alessio, but Laura seems to have a future with another man. Alessio has a decision to make, should he leave well alone or ruthlessly pursue Laura until she succumbs."
I started reading this book with a tiny bit of trepidation, I have read a few of Sara Craven books and I have found that her books are quite hit and miss (she sometimes has a few decency issues in her books, my opinion of course!) I have enjoyed her more recent ones more.
The story is based around Italian Count Alessio who after being caught being involved with a married woman by his vile Aunt is blackmailed by her to seduce her son's girlfriend in order to break them up. Said vile Aunt has arranged for her son to marry the daughter of one of her (rich) friends. If Alessio doesn't do this then his aunt will spill about the affair and cause a massive scandal.
Meanwhile, Laura has agreed to go on holiday to Italy with Paolo (the son!) and pretend to be involved with him in order for Paolo to get his mother of his back about the arranged marriage. When they arrive they are staying in Alessio's villa in the countryside. Alessio has an immediate attraction to Laura, regardless of the blackmail, and sets out to woe her (plus that all important seduction!). As he progresses he realises that Laura is innocent in every way and has to fight both his own feelings towards her and the guilt he has of what he is being forced to do by his Aunt.
The blackmail plot line is something that's very common in the Modern line, however this one was slightly different than the standard i.e. girl has to save her family/business etc. It was interesting and the relationship between the two develops really well, their feelings for each other are written very well and the result is very satisfying.
However, there are a few things that I just didn't like about the book. First is that I couldn't warm to Alessio due to the fact that he was sleeping with a married woman at the beginning. Yes, I know it happens, but he didn't seem to have any guilt about it apart from the worry of a scandal and being inconvenienced by her wanting to see him again, and I just found myself having no sympathy for him, being blackmailed by his Aunt was his own fault! Secondly, Laura was a little bit of a martyr, and just kind of too-good-to-be-true! Last of all, it seemed kind of dated, this was only written in 2006, yet seemed much older, both in the language used and other parts, an example of this is the fact the Alessio wore an outfit of "cream denim trousers and a black polo shirt" at least 3 times. Whoa there, it seems like he would be more suited to be in a Ralph Lauren catalogue in the 80's!
Despite this I did find that I enjoyed the book and the story was interesting!