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review 2014-01-21 21:22
"The Rich Buisnessman's Reluctant Bride" or "Forced to Marry for Revenge!"
Happy Marriage?!, Vol. 2 - Maki Enjouji
Happy Marriage?!, Vol. 3 - Maki Enjouji
Happy Marriage?!, Vol. 4 - Maki Enjouji
Happy Marriage?!, Vol. 5 - Maki Enjouji
Happy Marriage?!, Vol. 1 - Maki Enjouji
Happy Marriage?!, Vol. 6 - Maki Enjoji Happy Marriage?!, Vol. 6 - Maki Enjoji
Happy Marriage?!, Vol. 7 - Maki Enjouji
Happy Marriage ?!, volume 8 - Maki Enjouji
Happy Marriage ?!, volume 9 - Maki Enjouji
Happy Marriage ?!, volume 10 - Maki Enjouji

Chiwa Takanashi agrees to an arranged marriage with Hokuto Mamiya, a wealthy company president, in order to pay off her father's debts. Hokuto agrees to the arranged marriage because he sees Chiwa as another step towards exacting revenge on his family for their role in the death of his mother.


I was annoyed with so many aspects of the Happy Marriage?! series but I just could not look away. It's highly over dramatized with so many misunderstandings. All of which, could've easily been worked out if Chiwa and Hokuto had just talked a little to each other. Their refusal to communicate was so severe that they often used Hokuto's secretary to relay information or get information about each other. However, despite my annoyance with some of the elements involved in this series, I still enjoyed reading it. The over-arching revenge storyline was engaging, but it tended to take a backseat. Most of the time, when it was brought up (with the exception of at the very end) it was only as a tool to fuel Chiwa's insecurity about her relationship with Hokuto or as an excuse to get Hokuto to be a dick.


But hands down, Chiwa was the most annoying thing in Happy Marriage?!. She was an extreme mary sue and such a martyr. Every decision that she makes in the series is motivated by some other character's problems or what she thinks will make someone else happy. She only has one moment at the very beginning where she tries to take some initiative for herself and it gets smacked down pretty quick. I probably could've tolerated this a little better if she wasn't crying every other page. Chiwa cried so much in this series that it inspired me to create another shelf just for her called "Why you cryin?!" I was actually rooting for Hokuto's ex-lover at one point because she not only had personality but wasn't shown bawling over every little thing that goes wrong in her world.


As for Hokuto, he was a fairly standard romance hero that you can find in numerous Otome games (the distant "only your love can warm his cold heart" type). I did end up liking him a lot towards the end. Even though he managed to really piss me off, because for no real reason he back hands the heroine at least twice. These scenes were like watching an old black and white movie where the hero suddenly hauls off and smacks the leading lady and no one mentions or says anything about it. Way too over the top and I HATE when authors insert this into books.


All in all, this was an ok read. I would recommend it if you're in the mood for something along the lines of a harlequin romance with lots of melodrama.

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review 2014-01-11 03:23
Friends to Lovers Story
Ms. Match - Jo Leigh

Paul is trying to get into gorgeous flight attendant Autumn's pants, but it's clear that she has no real interest and is just flattered by his attention. In the hopes of getting laid by Autumn in the future, Paul agrees to go to a family party with her less gorgeous sister, Gwen. At the party, Paul is shocked by how much fun he ends up having. Days later, he's still thinking about how relaxing it was to hang out with Gwen. So he tracks her down at her favorite bar and starts out on a quest to befriend her.

Paul is the main narrator of this book which was an interesting change of pace. Gwen also has a good chunk told from her perspective, but the story starts and ends with Paul's voice. This made for a really interesting story, because it became less about Gwen's hang ups and more about Paul's quest to transform his life. So instead of the heroine being sucked into the rich and powerful hero's world, its about the hero finding happiness in the heroine's life.
In this respect, it was nice to see Paul's transformation with Gwen acting as a kind of guide. Watching them develop a friendship and really get to know each other before diving into a relationship was fantastic and really made them more believable as a couple.

My problem with the book, however, was a pretty big one. The climax of the story was really contrived and the blow-up that happens as a result seemed insignificant. It made Paul and Gwen's time apart look childish because of how small the problem was. The melodramatic cause for their separation made for a really unsatisfying reunion. There was also the smaller problem I had with Gwen's family. They were really cruel towards her for no apparent reason, which made them all seem like a bunch of cartoon villains.

Despite this though, I enjoyed most of the book and would recommend it to anyone looking for a quick read.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2014-01-02 20:59
Woman Poses for Fine Art Piece, Gets Labeled a Hussy
Bellini Bride (A Mediterranean Marriage) (Harlequin Presents) - Michelle Reid

I'm in one of those moods where all I want to do is sit around watching campy 1950's horror movies, like Them!, and reading ridiculous melodramatic serial romances. It’s why I spent close to two hours trolling for Harlequin Presents titles that tickled my fancy. (Even though I'm convinced that nothing can beat Lightning That Lingers which featured a male stripper with a heart of gold who owned a pet owl and used his g-string dollars to fund a nature preserve.) However, The Bellini Bride managed to stray spectacularly into crazy soap-opera territory mid-way through the story.

Antonia once posed nude for a painting that became famous and brought billionaire Marco Bellini to her door. When the book opens it’s been a little over a year since they got together and things look to be going a little sour. Marco's father is dying and wants to see his son married before he kicks the bucket, so Marco is trying to work up the courage to either break things off with Antonia or grow a pair of balls and marry her.

Marco, of course, is a douche nugget. The way he handles the stress coming from family and society is to verbally lash out at Antonia. His favorite barb is to constantly remind her that everyone thinks she's a big ole' ho-bag because she's naked in some fine art painting drawn by her ex-lover. His other favorite thing to throw out is that pretty women are a dime a dozen and he can replace her with a snap of his fingers. Such a dreamboat, eh?

For the first half of the book I didn't find Marco's ass-y behavior all that infuriating because Antonia bit back just as hard and made him apologize for being a dick. And for a terrifying moment I thought that I had accidentally stumbled across a Presents title that lacked the wonderful flavor of absurdity that I had been looking for. After all, I had an awesome heroine who was experienced and unashamed of her past despite the fact that everyone around her seemed to want to shame her, including the hero. That was until I hit the halfway point and Reid pulled the rug out from under Antonia’s character.

The crazy hits the fan when Antonia and Marco attend her ex-lover's newest art exhibition. Suddenly it’s revealed that Antonia is not actually the female model in the famous painting it’s really her mother who looks exactly like Antonia. And that ex-lover that Marco has been blowing a jealous gasket over for the whole book? Never Antonia’s lover. He was actually her dead mother's lover and is Antonia's father-ish figure, which adds a lovely creepy tone to an earlier scene where Antonia is practically feeling him up at a party to piss Marco off. Oh and by the way, all that sexual experience Antonia supposedly has is all in your imagination. Marco is the only lover she's ever had. And the ridiculous doesn't end there. Oh no. Antonia's real father magically pops-up at the art showing and its revealed that he's a billionaire (they must grow on trees in Italy) who had her mother as his mistress but cut things off with her when he found out she was pregnant. OH! And even better, Antonia is apparently the one who painted the famous painting and she's been working on one of a nude Marco without his knowledge.

After the craziness that was this art exhibition, Antonia turns into a wishy-washy mess of a woman who can’t seem to dredge up any self-respect and leave Marco’s ass. Even though she does think about it frequently and manages to get to an airport before having a breakdown and fleeing back to him. After this, the plot is basically all about Antonia groveling for Marco’s forgiveness for not trusting him and for making an aborted attempt at leaving him. Seriously? Marco’s sense of entitlement knows no bounds. I love how we’re supposed to believe that Marco deserves Antonia’s trust and commitment despite him never having done anything to earn it. At one point Antonia is close to leaving Marco when she thinks this: “He wanted her. What more could she ask of him, for goodness’ sake?” Uhhh… maybe his respect or, you know, love? But nah, she’ll settle for him just wanting her around. Girl needs to find that self-esteem she lost somewhere around the halfway point.

Honestly, I really enjoyed this one. I was in the right mood for the ridiculousness that this book managed to dish out in spades. The only thing that could’ve made this book better is if Reid had decided to pursue the melodrama that Marco’s catty ex-lover could’ve dished out.

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