I love to read and to talk about books. I review many of the books I read. I do not accept any author/publisher submissions for reviews. I do not read or review ARCs. I do not enter any giveaways or contests. I obtain the books I review by purchasing them at the same price they are offered to the general public at the time of purchase. My reviews are intended for the use of my fellow readers. They are not advertising or promotion. They are not beta reads or constructive criticism or editing or advice to the author. My only obligation to the author is to pay the price charged for the book at the time of purchase. My reviews are sometimes critical and I will not stop posting critical reviews just to spare delicate authors' feelings. I am happy to make new friends, but friend requests from authors or promoters who have few or no books (and/or friends) in common with me and write or promote categories I do not read (especially new adult) will be ignored. I used to read more self-published books. After recent meltdowns by self-published authors, I now only read self-published authors I've previously read or who have been recommended to me by fellow readers I trust. I also used to read young adult/new adult books but rarely do so now.
This book is every bit as stupid as the title indicates and yet I have read it in its entirety and I am now going to put the time and effort into writing a brief review of it. I know this begs the question, "Liz, WTF is wrong with you?"
I am a Harlequin Presents addict. Usually they cause me to have a brief moment of tearful heartbreak followed by relief that the author managed to contrive a semi-plausible excuse for an HEA. Usually the hero is some sort of despicable ass who gets his comeuppance.
Not this time. Oh no!
In this HP it is the heroine who is giving me grief. That 56% quote? "Charlie stayed dumb?" It referred to Charlie remaining silent while the hero tells her friend they are getting married. But really, she's just dumb. Unbelievably dumb.
She's a 26 year old woman who lives at a hotel, visited her bohemian, lascivious father in France every year and has traveled the world with a mostly male disaster search and rescue team. Yet she is not only a virgin, she knows nothing about sex. She's experienced a few crummy kisses before she meets the hero.
Now, I don't have a problem with a 26 year old virgin, generally. Some women have religious reasons or strong convictions or just want to wait. Usually they at least have some knowledge about it, though. Not our Charlie! Despite her lack of a sheltered life and her desire to experience passion, she has never had the opportunity, not just to have sex but to learn about it. Nope, Charlie stayed dumb.
It gets worse. She frequently notices tension, hostility and anger in the background of the hero's emotions but never once questions what could be causing this. The hero practically picks her up and slam dunks her into a vat of hints but ... again, Charlie stayed dumb.
After they marry she is told at the reception most of the story of the titular revenge by the best man. Her new husband comes clean, apologizes for even wanting revenge for his beloved foster sister's death in the first place, says he'll give her some time and asks to have the discussion in the morning.
He lets her rest, brings her breakfast in bed and calls her "mia amore." The bastard! It's not enough that he wants to take care of her and their baby in high style, lavish them with all their hearts could desire and be a passionate lover to his wife. No! He has to proclaim his love on top of that. Never mind that he has never once wronged her in any way; he once thought about doing so before he knew her. She could have given some thought to reality but no, Charlie stayed dumb.
So she snaps at him and he snaps back at her (there is plenty of stupid to go around in this thing) for a week or so until he finally calls her out on her unwillingness to forgive his original motivation and Charlie becomes slightly less dumb. That doesn't last. The hero hosts a dinner party to introduce her to his family and friends at which she willfully misinterprets everything everyone tells her about the hero. And when the hero tells her his Horrible Tale of Woe that explains why he doesn't trust women, she concludes, despite his words of love, his caring actions and the unsolicited assurances of everyone on earth, that he can never love her and her life will forever be a living hell. If what she is experiencing is hell, I want to be damned there right now, please!
The inevitable tragedy strikes. Since we have been told repeatedly that Charlie has vast experience in mountain rescues, she is presented with the adorable child of the housekeeper hanging on to a mountain ledge he landed upon while chasing an errant kite. There is a rescue team on the way but of course they might be too late so Charlie stays dumb, doesn't even get at least makeshift gear or a rope and hares off after the child by herself. Yes, once again Charlie stayed dumb.
She can't rescue the child once she reaches him so thanks to her super powers of dumbness the rescue team now has to rescue them both plus her baby because she is doing this dumb thing while 3 months pregnant. ...But Charlie decides waiting for a rescue team with gear will not work so she comes up with a dumb plan to push the kid back up over the mountain ledge. Meanwhile the hero, who has super powers of detecting his wife's future idiocy, has sensed something was wrong and hopped on a plane back to Italy so he can arrive just in time to see his dumb wife and their unborn child hanging off a mountain. Then he freaks out when she successfully reaches the kid and the rescue team sends a perfectly safe rescue crane to haul dumb Charlie and the kid in. The dumb has become contagious at this point. He wanted to go after her himself.
Then even everyone is rescued so the hero and heroine fight and a photographer takes her picture so she faints.
I thought she was going to awaken less dumb, but no. She willfully misinterprets her husband's concern. And then she repeatedly cuts him off when he tries to tell her he loves her. When he finally gives her a nice speech about how much he loves her, she gets mad. She's not just dumb, she's crazy.
She berates him for his past thought crimes and he cries. Apparently she's a sadist because that's the miracle cure for at least part of her lack of comprehension. Then he grovels some more for those long ago momentary thought crimes. She smiles. I see a lifetime of misery for this poor man. He apologizes for being a worthless worm who wants her so badly he can't think straight. She is thrilled. I feel kind of sick. But then he admits to torturing himself and I realize he's a masochist and they're perfect for each other. Maybe Charlie is not so dumb after all. ...
... magic penis ... HEA ... baby-filled nine months later epilogue. The end. Despite the S/m hinted at towards the end, throughout the entire book, Charlie stayed dumb.
I think I usually like Jacqueline Baird but this was just yuck.