Helen Brooks – “The Billionaire’s Virgin Bride”

27 Jul

GENRE: Romance / Contemporary
PUBLISHED: Harlequin Presents, 2008

WHY THIS NOVEL: I liked other novels by Helen Brooks

The back blurb:
“She won’t be bedded by blackmail!

As a lawyer, Zeke Russelll is second to none; dynamic and driven, he always wins. So when his ex-fiancée Melody Taylor asks for his help, he takes his chance to settle an old score!

Melody didn’t think she would ever have to see Zeke again, but now she has no choice but to swallow her pride and accept his proposition: rekindle their relationship – though this time it’s on his terms! However, there’s one thing Melody is determined to make sure of: she will never surrender…”

Well, the title is no prize and the summary on the back of the book is even worse. But like it often is the case, the actual story is better than the packaging. Melody needs Zeke’s help, or more exactly, it’s Melody’s mother who needs Zeke’s help as a lawyer. And so Melody and Zeke meet again, six months after Melody broke off their engagement.

The Billionaire’s Virgin Bride is off to a slow start, IMO. This had two reasons:

1. Melody’s character suffered because of the reason she broke off the engagement. I thought the evidence her decision was based on just wasn’t strong enough to warrant such an action and as a result, I wasn’t able to really feel with her. She had also other reasons, which get a bit clearer later in the story (brainwashed by her mother, trust issues), and Brooks tries to make the decision seem reasonable, but … I didn’t completely work for me.

2. I didn’t like the blackmail thing hinted at in the summary and that it seemed to be motivated by revenge (at least in part). Luckily, it’s only there in the beginning.

The focus of this story is firmly on Melody and her realization that her decision to end the engagement was mostly dictated by her trust issues. I thought the middle part the strongest of the story, with the things I like about Brooks writing more in evidence, like in the following quote:

(Melody just told Zeke she now believes he didn’t have an affair)

Eventually he stirred. ‘I’ve missed you,’ he said thickly. ‘So much.’ […] ‘But I don’t know if I can do this again. Do us again.’
‘I know I don’t deserve to be forgiven–‘
‘It’s not that.’ He made a swift downward motion with his hand, cutting off her voice. ‘Believe me, it’s not that. But I’m not sure we wouldn’t go through the same thing again. You torture yourself–‘ He stopped abruptly.
Melody watched the big tom from several doors up saunter along the pavement, tail erect and head held at a jaunty angle. Not a care in the world, she thought, envying the cat with all her heart.
‘I’m not the kind of guy to pussyfoot about, Melody,’ Zeke said grimly. ‘To forever be looking over my shoulder, wondering if I’ve crossed the line in some scenario you’re playing out in your mind. And this isn’t just about Angela. We both know that. Long before that, from when we first met, you were waiting for me to fail you. You’ve never trusted me. That’s the bottom line.’ (p. 90)

It’s the sense that “sometimes love isn’t enough” I like in Brooks stories. It makes them more “real” IMO.

The last chapter (wedding) I actually only skimmed. It felt too long and seemed more filler material than real story IMO, although Brooks included some last minute nerves on Melody’s side on the day of the wedding to make it clear that Zeke and Melody still have to work on her trust issues.

On the whole, The Billionaire’s Virgin Bride is a nice story but IMO it never wholly recovered from Melody’s decision to end the engagement on very slim evidence, trust issues or not, and is probably a bit light on the conflict side. But nevertheless, most of the time I had fun reading it.

Would I recommend this novel? Probably yes, although there are novels by Brooks I liked better.

Would I read this novel again? Maybe.

Grade: 3+ / 5


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