This is my favorite BDB book, though the first time I read it, I remember not liking it as much. I don’t remember why. I think it was because I thought there was too much about the Lessers (who’ve always bored me), but this time around, I skipped over all the Lesser sections and the story flowed so much better. I love the story of Mary and Rhage.
Mary Luce was a social worker who leaves her life’s work after being diagnosed with leukemia. Now in remission, she works as an executive assistant at a law firm and volunteers her free time at a suicide hotline. Mary is in constant fear of the disease coming back, so she is emotionally distant and doesn’t have much in the way of human relationships. Her only friends are her next-door neighbor Bella (who is harboring her own secret) and John Matthew, a young mute man with a mysterious background whom she meets while volunteering at the suicide hotline. It is through John Matthew that she gets involved with the Black Dagger Brotherhood because as it turns out, John Matthew is a pre-trans vampire (a dormant vampire who hasn’t yet gone through the change). Bella, who recognizes John Matthew as a pre-trans and will thus need help through his transition, calls the BDB headquarters for assistance.
Rhage is a ridiculously good-looking vampire warrior with a curse and a member of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. There is a dragon-like beast that resides within him, which is very deadly and useful in the fights against the Lessening Society, the BDB’s sworn enemy, but otherwise a pain in the ass. Stress and tension within Rhage is what can trigger the beast, so Rhage has to release tension either through violence or sex. Sex is slightly preferable to violence, so Rhage has sex with seven to eight anonymous women a week, in order to control the beast. He meets Mary when she brings John Matthew to the BDB headquarters to be evaluated by the brotherhood, and is instantly entranced by her. He immediately becomes obsessed with Mary and begins to follow her, even amidst the vehement protests of other members of the Brotherhood. Mary is human, after all, and Rhage has no business getting involved with her.
Madeleine Maguire has a crush on Michael “Spike” Moriarty. He’s tall, buff, tattooed, has black hair and yellow eyes, and rides a Harley. ::wolf whistle:: Hot stuff. And he seems so mysterious… Every time Madeleine sees Spike, her heart goes a-racin’ and all she wants to be is his lover-girl.
Spike Moriarty has a secret. He once killed a man and went to prison for it. He came across his sister being beaten to death by her boyfriend and Spike sprung into action. He killed the guy and went to prison for many years for manslaughter. Now he is a semi-famous French chef and not a lot of people know about his past. And boy, does he have a chip on his shoulder about it.
Madeleine and Spike encounter each other at a mutual friend’s party. Spike spends the evening flirting with everyone wearing a skirt, while Madeleine hides in a corner, watching him and being miserable. But Spike isn’t the only the thing that’s weighing on her mind. She is very wealthy, but her brother controls her money. She would like to tell him to back off, but she has always been intimidated by her brother and doesn’t want to confront him alone. If Spike would agree, she would like to take him with her to the family home for Memorial Day weekend. Spike is immediately offended. He thinks Madeleine only wants him to go with her because his looks would be a shock to her wealthy, white-bread family, and Spike doesn’t want to be used that way. Thanks but no thanks, Madeleine.
Amnesia is my favorite Harlequin Presents trope. It’s like a reset button of sorts; it can enable relationships to start over and turn total jerks into fine upstanding citizens and sweethearts. This particular story, however, uses amnesia as a pause button. Neither of the two leads change very much and once the afflicted recovers her memories, the same arguments from before continue, as though a year hadn’t gone by.
Samantha is the only survivor of a very bad car accident, which severely injured her leg. She wakes up in a hospital with severe retrograde amnesia, unable to remember her life before the accident. When she is released from the hospital, she stays in the town where she found herself and finds a job as a receptionist and bartender in an old rundown hotel. She knows nothing about her previous life and as far as she knows, no one has ever looked for her.
Hello, kiddies. I know “rock star” romances are hot right now, but back in 1981, Flora Kidd wrote this rock star story like a boss. It may not look it from the cover, but this is a pretty good rock star story. I was entranced from first page and read 187 pages in less than two hours. Turn the lights out, it’s time to get romantic.
Janos Vaszary, Hungarian violin virtuoso extra-extraordinaire, is the real deal. He’s got the talent, the looks, and the absolute conviction that he’s the best violinist ever and will become really famous one day. He starts out as a refugee from Hungary who is seeking asylum from the U.K. when he meets a young, flighty British girl who promises to marry him so he can gain immigrant status, on the condition that he can get himself to England. A couple of years later, Janos is on British soil and knocking on the door of the young girl’s flat, ready to get married.
Poor, poor Caroline Storr. For years, she suffered through a physically abusive marriage with an alcoholic, afraid to ask for help because she lived in a small town and the scandal would have killed her mother-in-law. But when Peter starts hitting her little girl, Kelly, Caroline decides she’s had enough and whisks herself and her daughter away to London. Cut to three years later and everything is coming up rosy. She had stumbled upon a copy-writing career and with the help of a small inheritance from her father, was even able to buy a house. She hadn’t heard from her drunkard swine of a husband since she’d left him and she and Kelly are doing just fine.
And then comes the asshole in the Porsche. Nick Holt, her husband’s cousin, was a painful reminder of her one emotional indiscretion—she was secretly crushing on him while she was married to Peter. Peter, of course, was a jealous, insecure psycho, and tended to “J’accuse!” Caroline of cheating on him with everyone from the mailman to the kindly town doctor. He also loved to cry his heart out to Cousin Nick and talk about what an amoral, selfish, cheating slut Caroline is. Nick, who was also secretly crushing on Caroline and felt very guilty about it, was at first unable to believe what his cousin has been telling him, but quickly changes his tune, when—say, on a lark—he makes a pass at Caroline by kissing her and she KISSES HIM RIGHT BACK, the dirty harlot! Peter was right! Ever the avenging-angel-slash-hypocritical-asshole, Nick takes it upon himself to hire a private detective to find Caroline, marches his self-righteous ass to her front door, and proceeds to tell her three things: 1) Peter is dead, 2) Peter’s mom is dying and wishes to see her granddaughter, 3) Caroline has been judged and found guilty of harlotry, and Nick himself will be her executioner. Oh, and could dirty, amoral whore Caroline and her little moppet uproot their lives, pack up everything, get into the goddamn Porsche, and go see Grandma before she croaks.