I don’t give many F’s. This book was headed to a D until a conversation later on in the story, which is totally going to be discussed. I’m afraid this review does hold a few spoilers, but since they involve Harlequin conventions and tropes, they shouldn’t come as a surprise to the regular Harlequin reader.
This story involves some interesting characters, but the heroine is totally idiotic and continues to make stupid decisions throughout the book. The hero is flat, never really comes alive. It’s all “telling” – “he felt this” and “she thought that.”
Let’s start with the cover. It’s one of the most horrific I’ve seen. A woman in a cheap-looking, pink dress, sticking her breasts and stomach out and a chinless wonder who’s looking at her in a creepy way that makes me shudder. That’s one reason why it took me a while to read it. The cover kept putting me off. But I have thoroughly enjoyed Anne McAllister’s books in the past, and I wanted a good read, so I started it, and continued, even though it has tropes I’m not particularly fond of.
Daisy meets Alex at a wedding. They go back to her apartment and bonk each other silly, and Daisy is convinced she’s fallen in love. Alex says no, and on the way to the airport for his flight to Paris, he explains he’s not into commitment.
The reasons are the usual ones – his parents didn’t do well, but there’s also an added tragedy in the death of Alex’s brother when they were both children. Alex has kept himself separate ever since, cold and distant, although he allows Daisy to get to him in their one, memorable weekend, because he knows it has to end.
Then he comes home. Daisy has a son, his son, and she’s divorced. Cal, the man she married was an old friend, but the marriage didn’t work out. They are still friends.
I think this is supposed to be a surprise, and all the way through, I’m thinking, “Please don’t let him be gay.” But yes, Cal turns out to be gay. That means Daisy is relatively innocent, she hasn’t “betrayed” Alex by sleeping with someone else, and Cal is no rival for Alex. That revelation is where the book goes to a definite D from a possible C. Such an easy explanation and treated purely as a plot device, not an exploration of why Daisy would marry her gay friend instead of telling the father of her child the truth.
So on to the next bit. That’s right, secret baby. Daisy had a baby, and because Alex hurt her and told her he doesn’t want a long-term relationship, she thinks she has the right to keep that knowledge from him. Sometimes I’ll read a secret baby story because I want to see if a writer has turned the trope around. As far as I’m concerned, the baby takes precedence, and unless the father is violent or obviously unsuitable, the baby deserves to know who his or her father is. And the father has rights, too.
Alex is understandably distressed and furious when he discovers the existence of his son, but he forgives Daisy much too easily. I’d have taken her to court. The fact that Cal is listed as his father means nothing next to DNA tests and a good lawyer. She had no right to do as she did. And she keeps avoiding telling Alex when he reappears in her life, sometimes in ways that scream “Plot device”!
Then there’s “That conversation.” Warning – rant ahead.
So here’s the quote from the book:
“No,” she said flatly. “I couldn’t.” She hesitated, then just told him the truth. “I was afraid you might want me to get an abortion.”
He stared at her, shocked. “How could you think—?”
“Why wouldn’t I?” she demanded. “You didn’t want to care! I was afraid you’d say, ‘Get rid of it before anyone cares.’ Well, I cared. Even then I cared!” She could feel tears stinging the back of her eyes.
“Jesus,” he muttered.
“Exactly,” Daisy said, understanding the desperation that made him say it. “I did a lot of praying. You can believe that. I was scared. I didn’t know how I was going to cope. I could keep working for Finn while I was pregnant, but after the baby came, I thought I might have to go back to Colorado and stay with my mother till I could work something out. And then—” she breathed deeply “—Cal proposed.”
I’m appalled. So abortion is always entirely bad? In Daisy’s situation, I’d have thought that should have been her first solution. She couldn’t afford a child, Alex had no right to demand an abortion, though he had every right to discuss one, and what is so wrong with them?
True, there are a lot of pro-life readers of Harlequin books, but there are also women who have had terminations. I’ve stopped reading more than one author because of this attitude. Partly because I disagree, but mostly because I dislike being preached at in my leisure-time reading. Sometimes termination is the right choice. That conversation is going to make anyone who has ever had a termination feel really bad. There are people who pray a lot who’ve had terminations, but this conversation makes it sound as if the praying helped. Most of all, there’s a strong implication that abortion is wrong.
Don’t get me wrong here. Some characters in books have strong beliefs, and if it’s discussed and the character follows through, then I can accept that as part of the character’s belief system. But Daisy hasn’t up to that point been depicted as religious or having strong beliefs in that direction. Not until that point and Alex’s equally strong response, as if even considering the option is wrong, do we get a hint that either character cares about such things.
So there it goes instantly to an F.
A Christmas bombshell For Daisy Connolly, the heady mixture of a wedding reception, vintage champagne and her blistering chemistry with Alex Antonides led to a spectacular weekend in bed – with unforgettable consequences! But the wickedly sexy Greek was long gone, leaving Daisy with a fractured heart… So when the heartless Alex storms back into her life Daisy is determined to walk away unscathed – she has to. Because she has a five-year-old son he can never find out about! But the Antonides heir can’t stay hidden for ever… And this Greek tycoon has one non-negotiable rule: Christmas is a time for family…