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LynneC’s review of A Forbidden Affair (The Master Vintners, Book 2) by Yvonne Lindsay
Contemporary Romance published by Harlequin Desire 6 Mar 12

I’m not sure why I finished this one, after the hero behaves like a complete jerk in the early part of the story. However, the grovel scene at the end is a good one. If I’d been the heroine, I’d have kicked him into touch and told him where to get off long before then, but our heroine is used to being treated like her opinions don’t matter.

A Forbidden Affair is part of a series, but apart from other characters who’ve obviously had their own books showing up, it reads fine as a standalone. Unfortunately, the other characters get a bit too much time, and, as well, the complications are too much for me to bother with.

Apparently, the heroine’s mother and father split up when they were young, the father taking the daughter and the mother taking the brother, Judd. At the beginning of the story Judd has returned to their father after years of estrangement. Then, for no reason given in this book, her father made over the majority of the wine business and the family home to him. At least Nicole is mad at him. Nicole has devoted her life to that business. So she storms out and gets drunk. As you do.

Well, not quite drunk, because that’s against the Harlequin Code of First Dates. She meets Nate in a bar. She doesn’t recognize him, despite him being her family’s Deadly Enemy, and they go home together. Only after a great weekend does she find out who he is.

And by then, they’d made a sex tape. Or rather, a sex DVD. That bit is fun, and it gives me a lifted brow, because who’d have thunk you’d read that in a Desire? It verged on kink.

Judd, the prince, says that if she goes back to her father, instead of coming to work for him, he’ll send the DVD to her darling dad. Her sick dad. Then, after she agrees to work for him (you knew she would, didn’t you?) he takes her phone, full of unread messages, and throws it out the car window.

But it’s all right, because he does it for her own good, and her father did horrible things to his father, or his mother, or something, so it’s fine to take it out on the daughter, isn’t it?

I know when a book isn’t doing it for me, because my little storytelling mind clicks into action. I had a fair idea how this story would go, and I started to think how I’d do it. Certainly I’d pull a Sue Ellen (now Dallas is back, can I make Dallas references again?) and stick it to both my would-be male manipulators. Nicole’s father treats her like she doesn’t matter, but that’s all right because he’s her father, and Judd treats her like an accessory.

Until she does something that loses any interest I might have had for her. She uses a report she generated with her father’s company to benefit the company she now works for, Judd’s rival outfit.

In business that’s straight down the line unethical. That’s why many companies make you sign an agreement that you won’t work for a direct rival (usually named) within six months of stopping work for them. I had to sign one when I worked for General Foods on Maxwell House coffee. I couldn’t work for Nescafe. It stops poaching and it stops the kind of unethical behavior Nicole engages in.

But I carried on reading. God knows why, except that Lindsay writes a good sex scene. But sex scenes aren’t enough to carry books through, and this one certainly isn’t. I finished it. It won’t stop me reading more of Lindsay’s books, because I’ve read ones in the past that I’ve enjoyed and don’t have nearly this level of hot buttons. But many more like this and I’m out.

If you like stories about doormat heroines and alpha jerk heroes, this one  is for you. And yes, parts of it did make me mad, so this is, I think, my first F grade of the year.

The book also contains a cute story by Elizabeth Bevarly, For Love Or Money, which is cute and fun. Some of the assumptions the heroine makes are somewhat bizarre and wouldn’t hold up through a longer story, but since I didn’t have to spend much time with her, the premise works and I enjoyed the read.

LynneCs iconGrade: F


Nate Jackson finds it almost too easy to seduce his enemy’s daughter. And after their white-hot weekend, he issues an ultimatum?Nicole Wilson will work for him or her family will learn of their affair.

Nicole has little choice. Yet even as she bows to her lover’s demands, she sees the hope for redemption in Nate’s eyes. Can his reasons be justified? And does she dare trust a man planning to destroy all she holds dear?

Read an excerpt.