Title: Enemies at the Altar
Author: Melanie Milburne
Reasons I might actually remember this one:
First and most importantly: I loved it. Loved loved loved it.
It was an ultimate guilty pleasure-read for me: the heroine is wrongly accused of gold-digging and sluttishness by the hero; she is secretly more innocent than she appears; she has a TWIN SISTER, which reminds me, I need to track down the other book (I’m assuming there’s another book, since it has “The Outrageous Sisters” in a little Box of Series-ness on the back); there’s one of those pitiable dogs which are a metaphor for the heroine–in this case, a homeless dog that bites because it’s been mistreated; there’s simmering and, okay, actually-boiling-over class tension; and the hero is made to feel satisfactorily guilt-stricken at several points.
The hero and heroine are forced into a mandatory marriage by his father’s will. As far as I’m concerned, more wills should be written with bizarre clauses like that. Anyway, all this is complicated by their mutual seething hatred of each other, dating from the time when she was seventeen and threw herself at him, and then when they were caught together (her semi-nude and, well, seventeen) she lied her head off and blamed him. And THAT was further complicated by her having lied in order to save her mother’s job as the hero’s father’s housekeeper (and mistress). So there are bucketloads of class tension and resentment and it’s just delicious, it really is.
The heroine has allowed herself to be wrongfully presented in the tabloid press as a bit of a slut, and she also had a lavender marriage which everyone assumes was actually a marriage-of-extreme-gold-digging, so everything the hero thinks he knows about her is much, much worse than reality. So he mistreats her and says horrible things to her, and she mostly just pretends not to care and lies her ass off back at him, because she’d rather have him hate her than pity her. Naturally she also tames a stray dog who turns into a very heavy-handed but adorable metaphor for this behaviour: it bites and snarls but really it only needs to be loved.
It’s all completely ridiculous, and interestingly aware of it’s own ridiculousness (several times the heroine points out that billionaires only fall in love with girls like her in fairy tales, not in real life), and I loved it to bits.
Hero Rescues Heroine’s
Family Member/Pet (a stray dog, in this case)
Hero Insults Heroine by Refusing to Believe she is a [near-] Virgin
Lauded by the Press
Justice at Last
Dog as Metaphor
Desperately Poor Heroine
Youthful Passion for Hero (Secretly Requited)
Heroine Accused of a Crime (well, accused of marrying for money and being an easy lay, in this case)
Seething Class Tension