Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Summer of Smutty Reads: Harlequin Present

   In the last post I admitted my guilt pleasure of reading Johanna Lindsey novels. Since my summers are known as “Summer of Smutty Reads” (where I usually indulge myself in trashy romance novels...how else do you suggest I survive Summer Reading?), I have decided to admit another guilt pleasure: Harlequin Presents.

    If you have never read them, don’t worry there is a pretty basic format. Super rich billionaire (or some foreign equally rich prince) who has either lost his wife, girlfriend, fiance  or perspective female in one way or another. In whatever way he has lost her, it has caused him to despise her and he is usually seeking her out for revenge or divorce. Throw in a pregnancy or a baby or some deep dark family secrets. And don’t forget to throw in a few bullying/blackmail scenes where our “hero” is forcing the female character to bend to him. Usually this is added because the female character is scared that the super rich hero will take away their child that she has mysterious kept hidden or will refuse to grant her a divorce. You get the idea?

    Gosh, after writing that I am beginning to question why I read this stuff. Oh, yeah…because they are addicting and pure brain candy. I can read a Harlequin Presents novel by reading maybe a paragraph each page. So why do that? I like the simplicity of the stories. You know what you are going to get. Yes, they are very cookie cutter, but sometimes that predictability is nice when you just want to turn off you brain.

    Though I am confessing this love of Harlequin Presents to you doesn’t mean I am ready to start placing HP on hold at my local library. Remember, I work in a library? Ah, the ridicule and teasing. No thank you. Nor do I want to pay $3.59 at Walmart. Buying them used is too much trouble. So how do I get my grubby hands on them? Netgalley.

    If you have an e-reader and haven’t heard of Netgalley, shame on you! It is a great site that solely deals in e-book ARC (Advance Reader Copy). I can usually get 5 or 6 HP at a time and that will tie me over for a few months. In exchange for the ARC I will give an honest review. Normally, I write a couple of sentences because that is usually the extent of a HP. No long in depth reviews because HP aren’t really that deep in my opinion. I still love them though.

    I will usually give 3 to 4 stars on Goodreads for a HP. 5 stars for a HP is very rare. Like Halley’s Comet rare. I have easily read hundreds of HP and I can count on one hand the number I have given 5 stars too.

   That being said, I wanted to mention a HP that I recently acquired from Netgalley, Princess in the Iron Mask by Victoria Parker. This is Ms. Parker’s debut novel. Here is a summary of the book from Goodreads:

A princess in hiding
   Dispatched by the king to retrieve his headstrong, errant daughter, Lucas Garcia thought this was just another day at the office. That's before he meets Princess Claudine Verbault, who's adamant that returning to the kingdom that banished her as a child is never going to happen.

A barely concealed attraction!

   Hidden from the spotlight, the now-independent Claudia has learned the art of being the anti-perfect princess. But Lucas does not look like the kind of man to accept insubordination! If only she could bargain with this frustratingly immovable man and give him something to distract him from his duty.

    While the summary is a little bland, I decided to give this a try. I was extremely surprised to find myself drawn in by the characters of Claudia and Lucas. Their dialog and chemistry are a perfect combination to keep you invested in the story. Ms. Parker was able to do what a lot of HP writers can’t do. In 185 pages, she had you fully invested in these characters. I really wish she would have focused more on Claudia’s family and their back story. There is a big rift between Claudia and her family and it was a golden opportunity to take this HP one step further. There was actually a lot of potential for this story to be drawn out. In fact I could easily see Princess in the Iron Mask as being a full fledged contemporary romance novel. Kudos to Victoria Parker for creating a unique set of characters and for constructing a HP novel that goes above and beyond the standard. 

SIDENOTE: Are the covers absolutely terrible? Terribly awesome that is. I love cookie cutter covers. I just don't know where to start when making fun of them. Don't get my started on Amish Romance covers.....


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