It's been many years since I read a Harlequin category romance, but they were my introduction to reading romance. I and several schoolfriends used to visit the local charity shops, pool our loose change and go back with carrier bags full of them, which we would pass around and then read until they fell apart.
As a reviewer and an indie author myself, I review mostly indie-published books, but when I saw a whole bunch of Harlequins pop up as available for review on NetGalley, I started clicking on impulse... and ended up with nine of them to review.
So here goes. Were they like I remember? Were the heroes dark, brooding, tortured and generally asshats? Were we told that the heroines were intelligent, independent women, and then shown that in fact they're a Bit Dense and Need A Man to take care of them?
Well, His Pregnant Royal Bride definitely ticked all those boxes, I'm afraid.
Dante is a prince (of course) who is working as a trauma surgeon in Venice. He and Shay (a nurse practitioner working for an organisation obviously meant to be a parallel to the WHO or perhaps MSF) have a passionate night at a conference in Honolulu and Shay ends up pregnant because the condom failed.
We're told all about Shay's work in third world countries for the not-WHO several times through the book, so my first question is 'why the hell isn't she on regular birth control?' Any woman working in a third-world country generally goes for a long-term solution like an implant or IUD, but it's never suggested that Shay even considered that.
Dante's first reaction when she tells him about the baby (at 16 weeks pregnant) is to demand a paternity test... and then tell her that IF he's the father, they WILL get married. He doesn't bother informing her that his entire reason for this is that he will lose his princely inheritance to his even more asshat father if he's not married and a father by his 35th birthday, which at this point is about 5 months away.
Way to be an absolute ass to the woman who's just turned up with the solution to save everything you care about, Dante.
And Shay! I wanted to like her, wanted to believe in her intelligence and independence... but when she let Dante convince her into marriage BEFORE coming up with a pre-nup to share custody, and without even bothering to check into Italian laws ABOUT custody (which most definitely favour the father and/or the Italian citizen parent), I absolutely despaired of her.
Even though they do find their way to an eventual happy-ever-after (one assumes) I didn't like either of them enough to want them to be together.
The book isn't badly written; the language is good and it's well-edited though the story feels a little choppy at times. I just couldn't warm to either of the main characters, and right now I'm not looking forward to the 8 other books I have to read for Harlequin.
His Pregnant Royal Bride is released on February 21.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley.