Guardian to the Heiress

Title: Guardian to the Heiress
Author:  Margaret Way
Harlequin Romance
Published: March 2013
Reasons I might actually remember this one: It reminded me of sharing Harlequins with my grandmother, long long ago.

I have read so many romances lately. SO MANY. I am way, way behind on reviewing; I have a stack of about six set aside for when NaNoWriMo is finally over.
But I had to do this one now, while it’s fresh, because it brought back such strong romance-novel-nostalgia for me.

I started reading romances long before I was interested in romance. I can’t be alone in this, surely? Back when I first read them, the romance was hands-down the least interesting part. My grandmother used to save me any that had a heroine with a job I’d be interested (nurses, vet’s assistants, and stewardesses), any that had horses or dogs, and any that had an element of “mystery novel” blended among the boring romance stuff. To this day I vaguely remember one  featuring an orphaned kennelmaid, and I wish I could identify and buy it.

This one had no horses or dogs, but in a lot of ways it reminded me of reading romances back then. The plot is definitely the kind of thing my grandmother would have set aside for me, sort of a blend between a Cinderella romance and an Old Dark House mystery: the young heroine inherits a huge fortune, raising the envy of a whole host of insane, evil relatives, one of whom attempts to kill her. Luckily she has the hero, her beloved (now deceased) grandfather’s lawyer, to protect her.

Additionally, it has something of the flavour of those romances. Not in the rape-y sense (I know old school romances have a bad reputation on that front, and I’ve reviewed a few of those), but in having a slower, more leisurely pace (in spite of the abundance of crazy, competitive women and murder attempts).

It also gets hilariously didactic at times, and I SO REMEMBER ROMANCES BEING THAT WAY. Specifically, I remember being about ten and reading the parts about how to dress, or how to choose a job, or what entailed good manners/taste/art/whatever in complete seriousness, as though I was finding clues on how the adult world worked.

So I was strangely delighted when this book burst into Public Service Announcements about food:

“Super simple. You just have to make sure everything is fresh. My flatmates would live on takeaways if I weren’t there. Takeaways aren’t my scene.”

“Not when one can whip up a delicious meal in ten or fifteen minutes.” (p. 31)

Or the importance of wearing seatbelts:

The girls were very lucky they had done the right thing, strapping themselves in. He had known of horrific cases brought about by the non-use of seatbelts, defective airbags, or both. (p. 156)

In among the PSAs, the murderous crazies and the manipulative sort-of-girlfriend who still wants the hero,  there’s a wonderful Christmas in Australia bit, and the recovery of a traumatic memory in the attic (by which I mean not only that she’s in the attic when she remembers, but also that the thing she’s remembering also happened in the attic).

This probably isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but damn, I enjoyed reading it.

Active Ingredients:
Cuisine: Australian
Australian Christmas
Evil/Neglectful Family/Stepfamily
Film Genre: Old Dark House
PSA: make cheap, healthy meals at home!
PSA: always wear seat belt
Bad/Shallow Woman Wants Hero
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