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review 2015-01-18 22:42
The Prince Who Charmed Her by Fiona McArthur
The Prince Who Charmed Her - Fiona McArthur

This is another one of the books that was in my used bookstore Harlequin Medical Romance bargain pack. It didn't work for me, but at least I liked it more than Her Christmas Eve Diamond.

Dr. Kiki Fender is working on a cruise ship as a way to escape. Nine months ago, she'd had a whirlwind romance with Prince Stefano of Aspelicus. Soon after he suddenly left her, she'd learned she was pregnant. She spent the next few weeks hoping he'd contact her, but he never did. Kiki miscarried at 18 weeks, and there was still no word from Stefano. Now it's mere days before what would have been her due date, and Kiki is shocked to encounter Stefano while treating a passenger suffering from a severe allergic reaction.

Stefano had meant to call Kiki and explain himself, but he'd been delayed by an accident and a long rehabilitation period. By the time he'd recovered, she was long gone. Their sudden reunion on the cruise ship shocks him as much as it does Kiki. Even if he can't mend things between them, he at least wants to explain himself and apologize. Unfortunately, it seems as though everything he says and does just makes Kiki more upset with him.

I almost quit this one 30 or 40 pages in because the editing was so bad. There were a few sentences that should have had question marks but didn't, a few instances of passive voice, and one run-on sentence that I think was missing a period. This either got better later on, or I just got better at ignoring it, although there were still some things that stuck out. For example, Miko briefly became Milo on page 170, and on page 234 Kiki repeated the exact same three sentences she'd said only three pages earlier (possibly intentional? I wasn't sure).

Even when there weren't any obvious errors, McArthur's writing didn't work for me. It felt stiff, and sometimes strange and awkward. Here's an example. The first two sentences, especially, seemed like they could have been written more smoothly:

“At seven Stefano had pulled Theros from a deep ocean pool on their island and saved his life with a boy's rough and ready resuscitation. Unfortunately Theros had been left with an injury to part of his brain from its time without oxygen. After that Stefano's young brother had not been the most sensible of boys, and later had become a handsome and lovable but childish man.” (16)

By the way, yes, Theros, Stefano's younger brother, was brain damaged. He had a wife who loved him very much, and they apparently had an active sex life. Theros and Marla weren't around much, so I can't really say much about them. Stefano's feelings about Theros were very mixed: there was affection, embarrassment (Stefano was very concerned with appearances, and Theros' behavior sometimes made the news), and guilt (Stefano blamed himself for not helping his drowning brother fast enough).

Anyway, Kiki and Stefano's romance didn't really work for me. On the one hand, they were supposed to have this explosive and undeniable chemistry. On the other hand, they didn't seem to know each other very well at all. I found it hard to believe that neither one of them was able to contact the other in the nine months since they'd separated. I think Stefano was injured at around the same time Kiki had her miscarriage, which meant he'd had several months to email or call her. He said he'd tried, but somehow Kiki had missed every single one of his attempts. As for Kiki, maybe she was too petrified by his status to send him an email? Or maybe she didn't even know his email. From the sounds of things, they'd only been sleeping together for a week when Stefano left.

Stefano was only a complete and utter jerk a couple times in the book, but those times were doozies. One of them involved interfering with Kiki's career without her consent. I nearly applauded when Kiki snarled at him for it. The other involved assuming horrible things about Kiki's motives. Kiki forgave him more easily than I did.


(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2015-01-17 20:52
Her Christmas Eve Diamond by Scarlet Wilson
Her Christmas Eve Diamond - Scarlet Wilson

Well, crap. This was supposed to be some nice, fluffy fun. Instead, I now want to cry, and not in a good way.

Cassidy Rae is a Scottish nurse. She was badly hurt a few years ago when her Spanish fiance went back to Spain and cut things off with her when she refused to go with him. All she wants to do is take care of her grandmother, who has Alzheimer's, and find herself a nice Scottish guy. She's not happy when a fortuneteller tells her that she's going to be a Christmas bride, and that her groom won't be from Scotland.

Soon after getting back to work, Cassidy meets Brad, a new doctor at her hospital. He's from Australia and probably won't stick around any longer than her fiance did, but she can't help but be charmed by him. The attraction is mutual, but Brad has something he hasn't told Cassidy: he has a young daughter named Melody. Melody's mother, Alison, took off with her in the middle of the night two years ago, and he's been looking for her ever since. Odds are good that Alison fell in love with an American doctor and moved to the United States with him – Brad just doesn't know exactly where. When he finds out, will that be the end of his and Cassidy's romance, or will she unbend enough to reconsider her decision never to leave Scotland?

Typing that last sentence was painful. Cassidy and Brad were both POV characters, but it felt like the entire book was focused on what Brad needed and wanted. Cassidy was always the “closed-minded” one. Everyone, from the fortuneteller to Brad to Cassidy herself kept saying so, and it made me angry. Was not wanting to leave Scotland really such a bad thing?

Cassidy was way more open with Brad than he was with her. No, she didn't tell him exactly how badly her fiance leaving her had wrecked her, but she'd at least told him the basics of what happened. Later, she told him about her grandmother and what Alzheimer's was doing to her. Brad, meanwhile, kept finding reasons not to mention Alison and his now 4-year-old daughter.

Cassidy was understandably upset when she finally did learn the truth, but softened when she learned that Brad had been afraid she'd judge him. When Alison first disappeared, people assumed he'd done something to her until the police figured out that she'd boarded an international flight. Then people assumed that Alison had left so quickly and quietly because he'd been abusive towards either her or Melody. Cassidy immediately believed his version of the events. “She was angry. She was hurt. And she had no idea what this could mean for them. But right now, she had to show compassion.” (154)

Sorry, I disagree. Had it not been very clear that this was supposed to be a romance novel, I'd have spent the entire book wondering if Brad was actually an unreliable narrator who had convinced himself he was in the right. As it was, I knew that, at some point, Wilson would probably reveal Alison to be horrible.

I barely know anything about custody laws in the U.S., much less in Australia, so I have no idea if the book handled any of that correctly. As far as I know, Brad and Alison were never married. Brad told Cassidy that they'd had an informal custody agreement. Yes, it had hurt him when Alison left and took Melody with her, but had he really had any kind of legal leg to stand on? This book seemed to think so. At the end,

a big deal was made about Alison removing Melody from Australia without parental consent. Alison was “shamed” (240) into meeting with Brad's lawyer. Readers never did learn why she left Australia so suddenly, without telling anyone, unless “she met an American doctor and wanted to start a new life without an ugly custody battle” was really supposed to be the sole reason. She didn't have a speaking role and was less a character and more an obstacle between Brad and the daughter he “deserved” to be with.

(spoiler show)

The one thing I liked about this book was the hospital stuff. It was nice to see Cassidy and Brad actually doing their jobs, and it all felt real. It's just too bad the romance was so disappointing.


(Original review, with read-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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