REVIEW: The Virgin’s Secret by Abby GreenSaturday, August 21, 2010 13:00
I usually enjoy Abby Green’s books, but, sadly, not this one. Let me count the ways…
Leo and Angel’s meet cute is when she is working as a waitress at his home and spills a drink over him. Angel is the daughter of Leo’s father’s bitter enemy but now her family has been brought down by an old scandal. Deservedly so, as Angel would be the first to admit. Add a nasty, nasty father and a sad sister, pregnant by the man who loves her but can’t marry her, and you have Angel’s dilemma.
Note that none of it is of Angel’s making. Yes, folks, we have a martyr. She is working as a lowly waitress, then, when she’s fired from that job, as a chambermaid. Oh dear, so sad. Actually Angel is so perfect she becomes tedious. Oh yes, and she’s a virgin. She went to school in Ireland, and she’s recently returned home.
Now if I objected to those tropes, I wouldn’t be reading Harlequin Presents, but these are all thrown in seemingly at random to give Angel problems. They don’t go to her heart, and they don’t explain her subsequent actions.
Leo had kissed Angel before he knows who she is, and then, when he finds out, he becomes consumed with revenge. At least in this one his Americanisms are explained by his being brought up in exile in America. He’s come home to take over the family business. I wasn’t sure what language Leo and Angel were using through the book, Greek or English, it wasn’t made clear. He blackmails her into becoming his mistress by saying he can arrange for her sister to marry her sweetheart. He then proceeds to take her virginity and treat her like crap.
Alphas don’t treat their women like crap. Other people may, but the alpha hero shouldn’t intentionally do that. It just shows him up as a creep and a predator. Ugh. Of course Leo gets a guilty conscience, but not before he’s dressed her up like a dog’s dinner and paraded her in front of people as his mistress. Mind you, with Leo screwing a woman he despises and Angel letting him, they kind of deserve each other.
One exchange I had to read twice. Angel asks him if he wants her to be his concubine, and Leo replies that no, there’s a modern term for it and that’s mistress. Come again? Mistress is so outdated, maybe last used in RL without a snigger in the sixties.
And these people have the usual Harlequin unconcern for the things we all use every day—laptops, computers, smart phones. Oh, they have them, but they don’t really use them. They’re as much accessories as Angel’s jewelry.
Speaking of which – Angel is a jewelry designer, something she gave up when she couldn’t afford it any more. Needless to say, Leo gives her a workshop. Not something that’s easy to set up, and most jewelry designers (and yes, I know a few) have specialisms. And they absolutely don’t leave precious metals and stones lying about. Insurance concerns alone insist that they go in the safe every night. However much of a hurry you leave in.
And Angel is 22. She’s crammed a lot into those years, hasn’t she? No wonder she’s a virgin, she hasn’t had time to lose her cherry.
I didn’t like this book because Angel is a doormat, to her father, her sister, and then Leo, and Leo is a manipulating bully who wants sex with someone he despises. And it contains one of those big misunderstandings that could have been explained away at the start. Leo catches Angel in the process of returning his father’s will to his study, after Angel’s father had it stolen. Of course, he thinks she’s taking it, not putting it back, and it contains information about his mother, that she killed herself—why would a will contain that? Two things immediately came to mind. Why didn’t Angel simply burn the will when she found it in her father’s possession? It’s a legal document, presumably with a copy lodged at the solicitor’s office, so why not just let Leo and his family assume it’s been misplaced and print another one? Second, Leo says it’s been recorded on security camera. So why didn’t Angel insist he watched the footage to show that she’s putting the thing back instead of taking it? After that, the plot kind of disintegrated for me, and I had to assume that Angel was both a doormat and stupid to make it work. It was another improbability piled on. After Angel takes a job as a waitress – and the fact that she was once a member of that social circle would make her employers happy to have her? Once the paparazzi find out that she’s hooked up with Leo, they’re fascinated, so why not a story about her as a waitress? The secondary characters were sketched too lightly to really mean anything or to have motivations that I cared about, and the love story was too superficial.
And then, since the blurb gives a late part of the story away, I will, too. She gets pregnant. Oh yes, throw it all in. At that point I just wanted to give in.
I guess I was disappointed with this one because I usually enjoy Abby Green’s stories. Her plots are less contrived, her heroes not usually such assholes and her heroines a bit older and less doormatty. But I’ll probably buy her next book.
Leo Parnassus has returned to Athens to head the family empire. A New Yorker since childhood, he finds life is certainly different here with family feuds and expectations to marry and produce heirs! Amid all this tradition, the beautiful girl who catches Leo’s eye is a welcome distraction.
She may be a lowly waitress, but Angel has her secrets…. Leo will be pleased to discover she’s a virgin, but not that she’s the daughter of his adversary! Or that, in nine months, there will be one more secret revealed.