A Harlequin Desire with a Harlequin Presents title!

Author: Merline Lovelace
 Harlequin Desire
Published: December 2013 

Reasons I Might Actually Remember This One: This is the first book I’ve ever read by Merline Lovelace, and I got completely distracted by her short biography. Very cool. But more to the point: this novel features a duchess’ socialite-ish granddaughter and a Kennedy-dynasty-esque power-political-type diplomat. The atmosphere was almost more riveting than the romance.

 diplomat's pregnant bride

Actually I haven’t read a Harlequin Desire in ages, so maybe this is the norm for their titles now. I suspect I bought this one by accident, when I was online-shopping for a stack of Harlequin Presents. But I’m glad I did; I enjoyed it.

So. The heroine was raised in genteel poverty by her exiled-duchess grandmother, who gave her (and her sister) an education befitting two members of the aristocracy of a now-defunct (imaginary) country. She had to sell her jewels to do this, and she reminded me of Anastasia for some reason.

The heroine, Gina (Eugenia), has never held a job for any length of time and has (we’re told kind of vaguely) flitted from man to man and career-idea to career-idea.

But now she’s PREGNANT, and motivated to make a living and become a responsible adult. Part of me wants to dismiss this as an idea straight out of Romancelandia, but honestly, pregnancy is a strangely sobering and motivating experience.

Speaking of which, early pregnancy is excellently drawn in this book. The heroine doesn’t vomit within minutes of conception, and doesn’t swoon away gracefully: she experiences an increase in appetite, needs to nap and go to bed early sometimes, is turned on easily and often, and wakes up desperate to pee. Which, yes: all of that.

The hero, meanwhile, is a career diplomat with a someday-maybe eventual shot at the presidency, and has a beloved dead wife. So the heroine sensibly doubts he really loves her, and is uninterested in marrying him just for the baby’s sake (and even LESS interested in marrying him for the sake of preserving his image for political purposes–which, to be fair, isn’t on his mind either, but it IS on his father’s agenda).

Because of the hero’s job there’s more talk of national security than I’m used to in a romance, and also more kidnapping (of the hero, not the heroine). I enjoyed it immensely. I don’t know if this is a feature of HDesires as opposed to HPresents, or its just a strength of this particular author, but there was none of the hand-waving “oh he’s a billionaire in…business” I’ve seen a lot of lately, and both the hero and heroine actually GO TO WORK, instead of being assigned exciting job titles that we never see them living up to.

There are also suspicious foreign cousins from the now-defunct mother country, one of whom is male, gorgeous, and points out within moments of meeting the heroine that they’re distant-enough cousins to legally marry. I kind of adored him.

Active Ingredients:
Dead Wife, Idealized Variety
Socialite Heroine
Imaginary Country
Elderly Duchess (heroine’s grandmother)
Selling the Family Jewels (Genteel Poverty)
Unplanned Pregnancy
Kennedy-esque Dynasty
Sequel-Ready Siblings (in this case the heroine is one of the SRS, since her sister’s romance happened in a previous book, but there are also two Exotic Foreign Cousins whom I suspect will get their own books, if they haven’t already)

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