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Book CoverLynneC’s review of The Merciless Travis Wilde by Sandra Marton
Contemporary Romance published by Harlequin Presents 19 Mar 13

I loved the first book in this series, the second one was so-so, and this one is a bit of this and a bit of that. There is a lot to like, but in the end it doesn’t work for me. I can’t discuss the book without a few spoilers, but I’ll  leave them until the end and mark them properly. If you read a lot of Harlequin Presents, then it won’t be that much of a spoiler. And this is a romance, so it’s not going to have an unhappy ending, is it?

Travis Wilde is one of the sons of a four-star general with a ranch (how does that work? I’m still not sure), who joined a branch of the forces to follow in their father’s footsteps. Travis flew jets. He’s now a financier earning buckets of money, but he doesn’t seem to do a lot of work in this book. It’s a thinly drawn excuse for him to be a gazillionaire. The background gives him a plot reason to leave the scene for a few days.

He meets Jennie in a bar, where she’s planning to pick up a man and lose her virginity. It’s a sleazy bar, one Travis visits in a sorry-for-himself mood, and he’s about to get into a fight when she arrives. Travis takes her home. They are hot for each other, but Travis is angry when he realises she’s a virgin and she’s used him. This is a nice twist on the feeling-privileged-to-be-the-first storyline, and I enjoyed the change. Travis is quite right to feel that way. He doesn’t know why she did it, and she doesn’t enlighten him.

In fact, Jennie has something seriously wrong with  her that gives her debilitating headaches and she’s working through her bucket list. Losing her virginity is high on the list, not surprisingly. When she and Travis meet again a while later, they carry on where they left off and this time Travis gets to know her problem. The falling in love is sweet and unencumbered by misunderstandings and contrived arguments from then on. This is probably the best part of the story, that although Travis isn’t looking for love, he doesn’t fight it when it becomes obvious what’s happening. I also enjoyed that they had a month or so to get to know each other. Jennie accepts that he’s rich, and he accepts that she’s a lecturer. It works well.

But there has to be conflict. Jennie is really, really ill, and she’s consulted several top doctors about her condition. She’s dying. The scene when she tells Travis is really moving, after she tries to break up with him. I love that Travis gets angry with her and tells her that nobody has the right to take the knowledge from him, not even her. I would have loved it more had the story ended there, with them committed to each other, with an uncertain future. I would have cried.

Marton writes well and carries the reader along in a well-paced, well-told story. She evokes the background well and while the characters from the other stories are present, they have a part to play and they would be part of his life, because the siblings are close.

Now comes the spoiler bit. Be warned.

This is where the story comes apart for me. Because Travis and his siblings discover a doctor who is conducting a trial operation to remove all the tumor. It’s a miracle, like that chap in Downton Abbey springing from his wheelchair. And within a few “it’s a miracle!” pages she’s all better. It doesn’t work for me. She’s so ill, and then she’s not. The descriptions of the operation and the way Travis is so strong are wonderfully touching. However, the whole miracle thing isn’t right. What would have worked for me better is if Jennie knew she was having an extremely risky operation from the start. It would still work with the bucket list idea, and it would have been more believable.

And then we get the pregnancy epilogue, and I could have won a gold medal for eye-rolling. Suddenly the tumor is gone, everything is dandy and she’s pregnant. No, just no. After a malignant tumor is removed, it’s usual for the patient to receive treatment that more often than not makes him or her sterile. So she gets a rare, miracle operation that completely cures her, then she doesn’t have the follow-up therapy, and then she gets pregnant?

I love happy endings, but this is too much, even for me. Too much sugar makes your teeth ache. So although I enjoyed the start of the book, the end is a complete disaster for me. I’d have given the book a B, had it been more believable, but the end is a D-, verging on an F. It has to have a C- and that’s for the beginning and the great writing style.

LynneCs iconGrade: C-


The wild before the stormTravis Wilde doesn’t do love or commitment—but he’d never turn down a willing woman and a king-size bed. Normally innocence like Jennie Cooper’s would have the same effect as a cold shower, yet her determination and mouth-watering curves have him burning up all over!The clock is ticking; forced to confront her life, Jennie is determined to cross some major things off her to-do list. Some might be risky—like taking on the renowned Travis Wilde—but Jennie has nothing to lose, except the one thing she thought was untouchable…her heart.

Read an excerpt.