Forbidden or For Bedding?

Forbidden or For BeddingBy Julia James

Publisher: Harlequin
Publication Date: December 1, 2010
Genre: Category Romance
Source: Purchased

Alexa Harcourt only ever spends one night, perhaps two, with Guy de Rochemont–never more. On her arrival at his Italian villa or his Monaco mansion, designer dresses and diamonds await her. But Alexa knows she can never be anything more than the “de Rochemont Mistress.”

Guy’s name is a byword for wealth and power–and now his duty is to wed. Virgin heiresses covet pride of place in his marital bed. But Alexa–the one woman Guy wants–is also the one woman whose reputation forbids him to take her as his wife….

Goodreads Summary

Artist Alexa Harcourt is commissioned to paint mega-mogul and hottie extraordinaire Guy de Rochemont’s portrait as a birthday gift for his mother.  As is the case with most of these adorable books, the utterly gorgeous Alexa has no interest in being another notch on Guy’s bedpost, which makes him all the more intrigued by her.  After a series of sittings, it becomes clear to Alexa that she’s just not able to paint Guy; to him of course, this means she must be infatuated with him and he takes the opportunity to sweep her off her feet one night and inform her that she’s now his mistress.  Oh, and by the way, he’ll call her when he’s in town and she should be ready for him.  A secretary later calls to inform her that she’s not allowed to phone his office to ask his whereabouts, that Guy has instructed that at no time is she to try to contact him.

And…she puts up with this.  For months.  She waits, he calls, she has sex with him for a few days, he leaves.  There’s really no exchange of affection, it seems to be all sex apparently.  I say apparently because there’s no description.  Really.  The description is that she’s in her robe making coffee and he comes out of the bedroom and she suddenly realizes how much she loves him.  Oy.  That’s the day he drops the bomb on her that he’s getting married to someone else because of some family issue and that their relationship is over and he calmly walks out.  There’s a lengthy description about Alexa’s cool, measured personality and that Guy’s is the same, so that’s the explanation for the non-emotional reaction.

I keep going back and forth about whether I maybe could have liked this or really did not. It’s weird not to know.  I had one thought the entire time I read this: this totally could have worked if it had been a full-length book with permission to get smutty instead of a neat little Harlequin Presents.  I wanted to know why on earth Alexa would love Guy; was he a different man in bed, did he treat her better somewhere else?  What was it about Alexa that kept drawing Guy back?  There just wasn’t enough page time from the day they met until the day he dumped her for me to figure it out and when they had their inevitable back and forth afterwards, I wanted some passion beyond stormy eyes and all.

After the dumping, everything just went a little off the rails for me.  I wasn’t thrilled with Guy before, but following some of the story from his perspective really didn’t endear him to me any further.  He did a lot of moaning and groaning about his situation, but not much of it included thinking about Alexa, which made the romance story a little harder to swallow.  Having read many, many of these, I know the heroes are supposed to be sort of horses’ rears before their ultimate redemption, but they don’t usually cheat and do things that are a little skeevy.  I was genuinely unsettled by Guy’s (and Alexa’s) moral ambiguity and selfishness at one point.  There was a bend-over-backwards explanation offered later, but it was silly, to say the least.

Alexa and Guy may have gotten their happily ever after, but the way they got there was awfully strange.  In the right format, with more space, this story could have worked, but I don’t think this really fit as an HP.

My Rating: D+

Barbara

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