Bride of His Choice
by Emma Darcy
#2080 Harlequin Presents – January 2000
Leigh Durant is the unwelcome black sheep in her family. She has returned to lay to rest their father, and despite a cold welcome she hopes for acceptance and love now that the head of the household has passed away. Richard Seymour, the business heir of her father, has his eys on her; he needs to marry her or one of her sisters in order to gain control of the Durant financial empire. His proposal is very tempting. Leigh would finally be recognized as worthwhile, but would she find the love she’d always dreamed of?
This book had so many things going for it. While being a very traditional Harlequin Presents story (handsome hero, obscene wealth, exotic location) Darcy was able to transform this premise into an intriguing romance with characters I cared about. The heroine was multidemensional! She even had interests outside of the hero — something that you don’t always see in the focused, short stories of a Presents book because of the time constraints or author limitations. The timeline of the story also allowed a realistic depth of feelings to develop. I liked that the main characters knew each other for several years prior to the start of their romance. I appreciated that the hero and heroine had good communication. Neither character was TSTL (too stupid to live), and they each learned from the conversations they shared. Ultimately, the best thing about this book was that the romance and emotions were not merely told to the reader. Darcy took time to develop and show what Leigh and Richard feel for eachother.
Now that I’ve sung its praises, I want say that it wasn’t a perfect book. I did have some complaints. I felt that the hero wasn’t fleshed out enough. He didn’t seem to have outside interests besides work and his revenge scenario. That’s all right in the short term, but I hope he develops some hobbies after they’ve been married a while! Also, the couple didn’t explore common interests to develop their relationship. They did have a shared past that they reminisced about, and they had explosive passion, but like the lack of hobbies in the hero’s life, I worry that it isn’t enough to sustain a healthy relationship. Finally, my last complaint about this book was that the ending was too happily ever after since everyone ended up settled and friendly. This fairytale aspect, added with my previous concerns, lifted me out of the story.
Nonetheless, I would recommend this story to others. In particular, if this story appeals to you, I would suggest other Harlequin Presents books, especially those by Helen Bianchin. Bianchin also writes strong, emotional stories set in Australia with devoted heros and allows time for love to develop.