Annie West is one of my favourite HMB authors because she is all about the emotion. The Big Misunderstandings, Secret Babies and other tropes that are often used to prolong the plot in other Modern/Presents books play little part in hers, or if she uses them, she makes them work. She never forgets that what brings the hero and heroine together in her books is the emotion.
And she doesn’t usually have TSTL heroines, or heroines who are TYTL (my own invention – Too Young To Love – I hate eighteen year old heroines because they deserve to live a bit before they find the love of their lives). The heroine of this book, Sophie Paterson, has just lost her mother. The hero, Costas Palamidis (guess what – he’s Greek) demands she come and help him and she is the only person in the world who can. Yes, he has a sick daughter. But the sick daughter is genuinely sweet and doesn’t jar.
So the story starts with grief – Sophie for her mother, Costas for his daughter. West doesn’t turn her back on the grief once the romance starts, she uses it to strip the protective barriers from her protagonists and leave them more vulnerable than usual.
I loved the first scene. Sophie is asleep, exhausted from the anxiety and grief of her mother’s illness and funeral, so when she answers the door to Costas, she’s groggy, and reacting badly to the sleeping pills she’s taken. He thinks she’s taken drugs and strips them both to their scanties before he takes her into the shower to revive her. Lovely. And no, he doesn’t take her to the floor, as he might if I’d written it, but the sexual tension starts from then on and sizzles through the rest of the book.
I read this one at one sitting when I should have been doing other things, but I thoroughly enjoyed the way West didn’t shy from emotions, didn’t use them for as long as were convenient to her and made her hero and heroine alive.
But while we’re on the subject of Greek tycoons, what is HMB’s fascination with them? I always think of Aristotle Onassis with Jackie Kennedy and shudder. Not that that stopped me enjoying this particular story.
There was an issue brought up later in the book that wasn’t really resolved, so I have to take a bit off for that, but only a little.
Costas Palamidis is a desperate man – desperate to save his daughter. He seeks out the only person in the world who can help her: Sophie Paterson. But their meeting is an explosive confrontation between two people shattered by grief. Costas comes face to face with a woman who embodies every haunted memory of his past yet presents an inescapable temptation. Can he trust her to help him, and trust himself to resist her?
When a furious Greek tycoon bursts into her home, Sophie’s anguish turns to outrage. She wants nothing to do with any man as callous and hard as this one. Yet she discovers a reluctant bond of understanding with this arrogant stranger. To help him she must return to Greece, face the family that disowned her and lay herself open to the shattering attraction between her and Costas. She can’t walk away, but will she survive the experience?
Read an excerpt here (scroll down).