Wednesday, March 17, 2021

#TBRChallenge 2021: The Petrov Proposal

The Book: The Petrov Proposal by Maisey Yates

The Particulars: Contemporary romance, Harlequin Presents #3046, 2012, Out of print, available in digital, Book 2 in Forrester Siblings duet

Why Was It in Wendy's TBR?: As is wont to happen, Wendy falls for category romance author and then goes scurrying off to snap up an entire backlist. Inevitably it always seems to be an author with eleventy billion books, like Yates. However at this point I've read enough of a sample size to discover that Presents Yates is my favorite Yates.  So for Favorite Author month this was a natural pick from the depths of the print TBR.

The Review: When Yates is firing on all cylinders nobody spins the Presents brand of glitzy, glamorous fairy tale better.  Also, this is a rare boss/secretary romance where the characters actually stop to think about how messy, unwise and inconvenient their mutual attraction/lust is because of power dynamics and their working relationship.

Maddy Forrester is more event planner than secretary, taking orders from her boss, famous and obscenely talented jewelry designer Aleksei Petrov. Happily they conduct most of their business over the phone and through emails, because she recognizes she's very attracted to him - and throwing herself at her boss is so not an option.  See, Maddy spent her formative years as an afterthought, dismissed and neglected by her socialite parents until she finally ends up living with her much other brother.  She craves love and affection - which means she's ripe pickins' when she takes an internship out of college and falls for her boss.  A boss that turns out is married.  To a semi-famous model/actress so Maddy is splashed all over the tabloids once the model/actress files for divorce.  Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt - not sleeping with Aleksei.

For his part Aleksei is your standard Presents hero who will NEVER LOVE AGAIN, having loved and lost once.  No, our guy instead takes a series of mistresses, never promising them more than mutual sexual gratification and occasional business-related nights out.  It's all so very Presents, and frankly annoying.  As is typical, every other woman not Maddy gets dismissed out of hand.  Seriously, I kind of feel sorry for Mistress Olivia who we never meet, but who is name dropped early on for effect.

Anyway, what happens happens.  These two can't stay away from each other, they have a fair amount of steamy sex, messy feelings get involved, and Maddy finds her voice:

“You’re right, Aleksei. I…I am selling myself short. I deserve to be loved, not to just give it. I’ve given it all of my life, and the only person who ever really gave it back was my brother. Everyone else just took what I would offer and used it against me. And I always thought that meant there was something wrong with me. I never thought I deserved more. I do now.”
Honestly, this is the pay-off.  For the first half of the story I feel like the author was spinning her wheels, covering the same ground over and over again. Once she gets Aleksei and Maddy out of the office, out of the bedroom and doing "couple things" (I mean, other than the sex....), things pick up. Because as the reader you're seeing it happen - the falling in the love.  These two dumb bunnies, they have no idea what's about to hit them upside their foolish, silly heads.

Yates has been magic in Presents format, and while this is pretty good, it's not magic (IMHO).  Honestly, it was kind of ho-hum for me early on with the second half showing up in time to save the day.  Good, not great - but now I'm curious about Maddy's brother's book which is, of course, in my TBR.  Because, of course.

Final Grade = B-


eurohackie said...

I feel you on collecting a new favorite author's backlist. Let me show you my Louise Allen and Marguerite Kaye collections, LOL. At least we know there's a better than even chance of finding something good in our respective TBR piles, though :)

I've had a Yates Presents novel on my TBR for years now, also of the royalty/fairytale stripe. None of her output since I started seriously buying Harlequins a couple years ago has appealed to me. I don't like boss/employee books; otherwise, this one does sound interesting. I'm taking your word for HP being her wheelhouse; none of her Desires or single titles have appealed to me at all.

I'm not feeling romance this month, so I went for a tried-and-true author in another genre, Stephen King. His short work is phenomenal and my choice this month (The Colorado Kid) didn't let me down. It was nice not to be disappointed, for a change!

Kristie (J) said...

Good review 😁. And I think you captured why chances are slim I’ll ever read this line. I’m so much more of a blue collar hero fan. The hero can be rich now but he started off poor. I also tend to stay far away from boss/assistant, royalty/commoner stories unless it’s an author I’ve already read and loved in the past.

Jill said...

I actually like some boss/secretary stories sometimes, which is why I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Harlequins. It is hard to pull off well, but like friends to lovers, I like a story where people already know each other and then start to see each other in another context.

I was a little nervous about the theme favorite author b/c honestly one of the many smaller disappointments of 2020 was a lot of my favorite authors fell flat. I think I can't blame it all on 2020, I think there is a sea change in my taste as well.

So I picked MARRYING THE CAPTAIN by Carla Kelly with some trepidation, but was relieved to find it pretty much classic Kelly. Nana is the illegitimate daughter of an aristocratic Naval official. Her dad(who is a real piece of work) sends Captain Oliver Worthy to check on Nana and see how she is doing. Oliver shows up at Nana's grandmother's inn feeling sick and is tended to lovingly by Nana and the little family at the inn. He doesn't want to tell Nana of his mission, but the real stumbling block is he doesn't want to marry and leave some woman a lonely widow. Nana falls in love with Oliver easily, but she feels her illegitimacy makes her an unsuitable bride for a Naval officer.

This was lovely. Lots of historical detail and that warm, unforced intimacy that Carla Kelly does well. There was maybe too much realism at times (soooo much musing about chamberpots) and there is a plot twist that seemed pretty obvious, but overall just a really enjoyable, smooth read.

It all must have worked b/c I instantly went and bought the next book in the series.

Wendy said...

Eurohackie: I've collected a number of Yates' single titles but have I read any of them? Um, no. I have this mental block when a very good category writer jumps ship to single title - but that's on me! Her Desires haven't been working for me quite as well as the Presents. Of her Desires I've read three and I've gotten 2 OKs and 1 DNF.

KristieJ: Ha! Well in Presents-Land a good number of the heroes start out poor but are usually gazillionaires by the time they're 28. Which was the case with Aleksei. Used to be broke, now swimming around in piles of money like Scrooge McDuck LOL.

Jill: I toyed with the idea of picking up a Kelly this month - but then realized that I needed escapist brain-candy - which means Presents for me. Marrying the Captain sounds lovely, and I'm pretty sure I've got that one lying around here somewhere....

gillette said...

I did select 2 from my back list. Both by Veronica Scott, who I love. Think I left them because they weren't her usual scifi. The books were The Captive Shifter, and Winter Solstice Dream. Both were fantastic reads


Wendy said...

Gill: Woot! It's always a good day when you dig great reads out of the TBR.