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LynneC’s review of Secret Son, Convenient Wife by Maxine Sullivan
Contemporary Romance published by Harlequin Desire 3 May 11

I was a bit taken aback by this one and I have to admit, I didn’t get far. It’s rare that one sentence can stop me reading a book, but in this case, it did. See what you think. Would it have bothered you?

Right at the beginning, the heroine, Gemma, sleeps with Tate after losing her virginity elsewhere. So we get this sentence:

“She’d fallen instantly in love with Tate and had known then what her mother had meant when she’d advised Gemma to keep herself for the man she loved. Gemma would have been proud for Tate to have been her first.

She could only thank the Lord now that she hadn’t told Tate she loved him.”

Now, that would be fine in an Inspirational, but not in a Desire. This is supposed to be hotter, slightly quirkier than the Presents line, with more experienced heroines. You wouldn’t know it from this book. I really dislike that kind of trope, and if the heroine really thinks like that, I want to know that someone thinks she’s misguided and probably a little insane. I want to know that the author and the other characters don’t go along with that kind of condemnatory, killjoy thinking.

This reads like Gemma and her mother stepped straight out of the fifties. Ugh, just ugh. To blame herself, and then to want to “keep herself” for the man who bonked her silly for a month and then left her, that seems to indicate doormat. But what really got to me is the implied criticism in the sentence. I still don’t know if it’s me or if she really did mean that.

Oh, yes, and instalove. It’s no good just saying, I want to know why and how, and how that makes her feel. Unsure, shocked, certain, what? It all plays into her character and we get none of that here.

That’s as far as I got. Barely into Chapter One. I couldn’t bear reading a book about a doormat heroine with such stupid notions about love and sex. Presumably she’ll win the poor hero over with her goodness and her poppet of a baby. Not for me.

LynneCs iconGrade: DNF


Tate Chandler had never wanted a woman as much as he’d wanted Gemma Watkins—until the day she’d betrayed him. Yet when he learned they had a son, he demanded Gemma marry him, or he’d fight for custody. Tate was a man of honor—he’d create a family for his heir, even if it meant marrying a woman he couldn’t trust.

Their marriage was about duty, nothing more. But Gemma’s beauty tempted him to make her his wife in every way. Could he lure her back into his bed without letting her back into his heart?

Read an excerpt.