REVIEW: Mistress At What Price? by Anne OliverSunday, August 8, 2010 1:03
I said in a previous review that I wouldn’t be reading Harlequin Presents if I didn’t tolerate the tropes that come up. This book proves that you can use them and still come up with a good, heartfelt read about people with more depth to them than a piece of paper. This is a good one.
Anne Oliver is a writer who comes up with some goodies and some that are standard Harlequin reads, but she’s usually worth a look. But after a disappointment or three, I didn’t have high expectations when I came to this one. Harlequin, I thought, is losing it.
I’ll keep on reading, thanks to this one. Mariel is a refreshing 27, and she’s not a virgin. I loved that, and the fact that she’s nearly 6 foot tall. She was working as a photographer’s model, but has come back to Australia after a scandal ended her career. A scandal not of her making. She wants to start again as a designer. And she meets old flame Dane. Their affair ended before it had begun, with her finding Dane in flagrante with someone else.
But now she’s back, and Dane and Mariel are strongly attracted to each other. Wealthy Dane offers Mariel a deal – he’s been voted Bachelor of the Year and he’s sick of the press attention. He wants to show the world he has a regular girlfriend and get out of the deal, even though he did it in the first place for his personal charity.
I liked Dane’s charity (bringing computers to the outback) and I liked that the setting meant something in this book. I enjoy books set in Australia, but I prefer them to have a flavour of the place, not to have it as a mere setting. And glory be, the hero talks like an Australian, using occasional phrases that I enjoyed (Strine is one of the best versions of English that there is, IMO!) I also liked Mariel. She’s competent, intelligent, and she doesn’t do anything stupid for the plot’s sake. I could enter into her dilemma with her, that she and Dane weren’t going to get serious, and when she finds herself falling for him, she wants out before he realises, because she doesn’t want him to find out and get hurt, or feel obliged in any way. I could buy into that because Dane, despite his insecurities, was a nice man and never intentionally hurt or upset her.
I also liked that we don’t get the meaning of his nickname for her—Queen Bee—until nearly the end of the book, and it’s a definite “aw” moment, so I won’t spoil it for you. They are romantic and loving without getting too mushily sentimental or making my teeth drop out with the sheer sugariness of their ending.
The medical stuff towards the end of the book is believable, too (it happened to a friend of mine). Oliver has done enough research to make it work, without overwhelming the reader and making it a Medical Romance.
I wanted Dane and Mariel to have their happy ending because I thought they deserved it. Grown up people, about the same age, fighting through their insecurities and the hand that life has dealt them to get their happy ending. Good one, Anne Oliver. Thanks for the read.
Struggling fashion designer Mariel has never forgotten Dane Huntington, or his cruel rejection of her. But now, years later, the red-hot chemistry is still there and the devilish tycoon has a tantalizing deal to offer her.
He’ll help Mariel set up her dream business—if she will help him distract the paparazzi by playing his adoring mistress! Of course, both Dane and his offer are irresistible…but now the man who broke her heart is the father of her unborn child….
Read an excerpt.