One of the two category novels I picked up at Wal-mart during my medicine run, Shackled in Diamonds by Julia James is the one I read first.

Wearing the rare, priceless Levantsky diamonds is Anna Delane’s most prestigious modeling assignment. But when the precious gems go missing, Anna is at the mercy of Greek tycoon Leo Makarios….

Leo believes that Anna is a common thief. He will do anything to get his jewels back! He has a plan: as the sun sets Anna will become his, and as it rises she’ll be free to go. By then, her debt will have been repaid!

Please don’t ask why I chose this one over shiekhs on tropical islands. I think I’m just a sucker for a Greek tycoon since the last category I read featured a Greek tycoon. Hmm…hidden obsession? Maybe.

I was determined to read this book with an open mind and to remember that it’s a category romance, thus has a certain formula it needs to follow. I was really looking for something that would be a quick read, something my brain didn’t have to concentrate too much on, some brief escapism. Unfortunately, this book had some rather major flaws that were hard to ignore. Rather than pick it apart, I’ll just write a few quick points: 1) mentioning on the first pages that the heroine supposedly practices karate exercises daily to make her feel safe from physical attack and then completely ignoring that character quality for the rest of the book until near the end does not make me a believer.

2) I was thoroughly baffled by the hints dropped that the heroine had had a bad relationship, maybe one that caused her to be turned off of sex. The hero kisses her, in her bedroom. She’s obviously attracted to him, responds and then suddenly goes psycho on him. We’re privvy to all this internal angst about how she can’t believe she responded and we’re supposed to believe she’s angry and upset. I’m thinking she was sexually abused in this previous relationship, I swear the set-up was there. But no, she’s just determined not to have sex with this guy and that apparently is cause to act in an extreme and volatile manner whenever the thought of sexual arousal occurs. Um, sure. I can understand that…not at all.

3)The fact that I remember the page number (82) should tell you how disturbed I was by some of the descriptors throughout this book. It was at this point that the book lost me. In the heroine’s POV:

Something flared briefly in the depths of her eyes, but she crushed it instantly.

Ahem. I’ll just bite my tongue on any further statements about why that sentence is just wrong, wrong, wrong.

So here’s what I’ve figured out about Harlequin Presents books (you know, from the two I’ve read). I don’t think I’m the targeted audience, lolol. For one thing, there’s a lot of adverbs *points to sentence from page 82 as proof* and some of you know how much I loooove a lot of adverbs in a book 😉 But really, these books require a high level of suspension of disbelief that I apparently am lacking. I need some reasonable explanation for character actions, I need to be shown not just told and expected to believe. I want plot that moves forward in a believable manner, nothing left dangling or used because it’s convenient.

I’m thinking the targeted audience loves these books for what they are but I’m also thinking I need to do the authors a favor and stop reading them because, well, clearly I don’t love them. But on the other hand, I’m tempted to keep reading more because they’re becoming this secret (not so secret since I’m sharing on my blog) wicked pleasure for some reason I won’t explore further.

And I do really, really want to meet the editor (and author) who thought anyone could feel something flare in the depths of their eyes and then crush it. I’m just saying. Not. Possible.

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