While this book doesn’t break any new ground, it presents two likeable characters and their journey into love, which is what the Presents line is, or should be, all about. What makes it enjoyable isn’t the situation, but the characters. Everything is concentrated on them; the secondary characters, as is becoming usual in this line, being talked about but not present.
That does make for a claustrophobic read, with both characters in a vacuum, but there is enough background for it not to appear artificial. Aggie is a teacher and her brother, an itinerant musician, has been dating the sister of billionaire Luiz Diaz. I like that Luiz has tolerated the affair, even taking the young couple out from time to time. Although he’s met Aggie, he hasn’t been particularly attracted to her. She dresses dowdily but neatly, because she and her brother don’t have cash to spare.
When the young couple run off together to the Lake District, Luiz calls on Aggie, furiously accusing her and her brother of being gold diggers. So far, so Harlequin. But Aggie responds sensibly and stands up for herself. She realizes she and Luiz are from entirely different worlds, but she agrees to accompany him on a trip up to the Lake District to stop them from doing anything rash. Not that she believes that, because she trusts her brother. She wants to be there for him. The first half of this book is their journey, part of which they spend stuck in the snow, and I do have to confess a weakness for journey stories, especially the snowbound ones. I do like a good snowstorm, but then, my daily commute doesn’t usually involve fighting the elements.
I like that, too, that Aggie isn’t entirely bullied into doing what Luiz wants. She’s technically a waif, being poor and brought up in a home, but the home was a happy one, another deviation from the cruel, workhouse-like conditions featured in many other Harlequin books. I find it hard to buy into the waif brought up in a cold, unfeeling background and then turning out to be the one who teaches the hero how to love. If she’s so deprived, surely she’d have more serious problems than someone brought up in the lap of luxury. But Aggie knows what love is, and she knows her own value. She enjoys her job as a teacher, but she’s not a slave to the cute little kiddies—she knows it’s a job. Similarly, Luiz, while angry and afraid for his sister at the beginning of the story, isn’t the abusive alpha of many stories. He tries to be, but he is fair enough to admit that he is mistaken in his assessment of Aggie’s character.
I do dislike the inevitable “you know this can’t go anywhere” and “I don’t do love” statements that come after their first night together, because it’s a cop-out. A man who thinks that is a jerk and a misguided idiot with a closed mind. But when they return to London, Aggie and Luiz carry on seeing each other. I like that, too, as it gives the story more time and gave me a chance to buy into their story.
The last part of the book involves another popular Harlequin trope, but it would be a spoiler to say what it is. However, the treatment of the situation isn’t typical, and I enjoyed this acceptance that these days one event doesn’t automatically follow the other. And that Luiz accepts what he’s done and takes full responsibility for it.
So not an earth-shatteringly different story but a well-written one with two characters who are just different enough to be interesting. The end, for me, is far too abrupt, as if she’d run out of space. I want a bit more before we say goodbye to Aggie and Luiz.
When you’re caught in a snowstorm, there’s only one way to warm up… An outrageous accusation of being a fortune-hunter is Aggie’s excruciating introduction to billionaire Luiz Diaz. And things take a turn for the worse when she finds herself snowbound with the arrogant Brazilian! They are forced to seek shelter whilst the snowstorm swirls around them, and Luiz does nothing to dismiss Aggie’s initial opinion of him. Yes, he’s unbearably arrogant. Yes, he’s just as irresistible as he thinks he is! And, infuriatingly, however merciless his reputation, it seems she’s not as immune to his legendary lethal charm as she’d hoped…
Read an excerpt.