Lynne Connolly’s review of One Night, Nine-Month Scandal by Sarah Morgan
Contemporary Romance published by Harlequin Presents 1 Sep 10
This is a great example of what a good Presents/Modern should be: exotic location, sexy hero, likeable heroine, and a story about emotions with a nice dash of humor in the mix.
I must be on a roll, because I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one. The title is pants, but HMB are altering their title formats, so I won’t start discussing it. The cover is misleading, because the main part of the story takes place when she’s a little bit pregnant, but meh, I just hope it doesn’t put people off buying it.
Well, I tried to nitpick, but all I can find with this one are little niggles. So let’s start with the story. Kelly is a teacher in a sleepy English village, but she’s had a torrid past. When she was nineteen she met and agreed to marry a Greek millionaire, but he walked away on their wedding day, leaving her to the gentle ministrations of the press. Because he read an interview with her where she said she wanted at least four children, and he doesn’t want to be a father.
Niggle one – he should really have thought about that. In Harlequin-speak, he’s a playboy and a billionaire, so why is it any surprise to him that Kelly is hounded by the press after he leaves her at the altar? He should really have taken more care of her.
The story starts where Kelly is trying to sell the fabulous diamond ring he gave her on ebay. I loved that, that she uses ebay. I loved that her characters live in our world, not some twenty-year-and-more-old world. They have iPods, laptops, cell phones and they use them as part of their everyday existence. Kelly has seen pictures of Alekos with Marianna, a woman he’s planning to marry, and even though they’ve been apart for three years, it hurts her, so she decides to cut ties and sell the ring. Of course, Alekos’s staff see it and bring it to his attention. He buys it and comes to collect it in person.
He doesn’t collect the ring, he collects her. As a result, she finds herself preggers. And you’ll have to read the rest of the story yourself to see how it turns out, but it probably won’t be a surprise to you.
What this book does so well is relationships. And characters. Kelly is the first Presents heroine in ages that I loved, and rooted for her happy ending. She’s not always logical, or sensible, she doesn’t always behave intelligently, but Sarah Morgan sells Kelly so well that you don’t care. It’s great to have a heroine who leaves her belongings scattered everywhere, but who has intelligence and spirit to make up for it. It’s nice, also to have a hero who behaves like a man. He doesn’t always say the right thing, and he admits to doubt. He cares so much it’s hard for him to handle, even though he’s a big, strong alpha male. But he knows that if he tramples all over her, drags her off by her hair to his cave, he’ll hurt her, and he really, really doesn’t want to do that. Their interactions are believable, sparkling and leavened with delicious humor. Kelly says things to Alekos that you just wish more Presents heroines would say. She gets upset, and lets him see it, reduces him to a quivering jelly of doubt and confusion. Good on you, girl. And good on Alekos for taking and not storming off, diva fashion.
Niggle number two, and I think that’s it – Kelly keeps wondering when he’ll propose, and gets fixated by that. It doesn’t really work for me, that obsession with marriage. Commitment, yes, but Alekos shows her that.
I really enjoyed reading a book where the characters fall in love. They really do. You can follow the process with them, as they get to know each other better and, more importantly, understand each other. They have problems, and miracle of miracles – they talk about them. Really discuss what’s happening and where they’re going. And did I mention Kelly’s best friend Vivian? I’d love to see more of her, because she was fun, too. So often secondary characters are pretty thinly presented, but in this one I could see why Kelly and Vivian were such good friends, and I enjoyed their scenes together, too.
I don’t really mind that the baby brought Kelly and Alekos back together, but I would have liked it even better had there been no baby involved. But since that forms one of the central conflicts in the book I have no idea how they’d handle that, so, okay, baby. As a McGuffin it has its points.
I didn’t care, really. I had so much fun reading about these people, their expectations, the way they fought and made up, that I wanted to read it again when I put it down. But I can’t, I really can’t. Writers, you want to know how to take all the ingredients of a Harlequin Presents and turn it into a great story? Read this one and learn.
Good one, Sarah. Now do it again and give us some more!
A sleek Ferrari in the sleepy English village of Little Molting was always going to create a stir – but for schoolteacher Kelly it only means one thing. Her ex, Alekos Zagorakis, has stormed back into her life the way he left it: completely on his own terms.
Four years ago Kelly stood, bridal bouquet in hand, realizing that her gorgeous groom wasn’t walking down the aisle to meet her. Now he’s come back to claim what’s rightfully his – and that includes one night with Kelly..
But it’s a night that has lasting consequences!
Read an excerpt.