Dangerously Irresistible

Duets 27

Seduced in Seattle

Send Me No Flowers

Propositioned? by Kristin Gabriel
(Harl. Tempt. #909, $4.25, R) ISBN 0373691092
Do romance readers really need another story about a self-sacrificing, financially struggling grad student meeting up with a handsome, yet single, millionaire?

Sarah Hewitt is said grad student. She, of course, is also supporting and caring for a family member, in this case her grandfather. We meet Sarah as she is about to sneak into a New Year's Eve party at the Wolff Mansion. Sarah's grandfather Bertram has stolen a diamond necklace from his longtime rival Seamus Wolff and Sarah is here to return it before anyone notices. Bertram, who believes the necklace rightfully belongs to him, has stolen it before and spent time in prison. Sarah is determined not to let that happen again, so here she is.

Although she plans to be as inconspicuous as possible, she catches the eye of studly millionaire, Michael Wolff. Michael hasn't had time for women lately because his grandfather Seamus has had a series of accidents since changing his will to give his young wife Blair most of his estate. Michael suspects Blair is behind these "accidents."

All this is momentarily forgotten when he spots the mysterious woman in the Little Red Riding Hood costume. (Little Red Riding Hood. Wolff. That's about as clever as this book gets). The two of them end up dancing and sharing a kiss. Afterwards, Michael convinces "Red" to meet him at midnight for the unmasking. Sarah agrees but has no plans of following through.

Instead, she sneaks up to Michael's bedroom to replace the diamond. Unfortunately, before she can complete her task Michael arrives. The only place Sarah can think to hide is in Michael's curtained bed, where of course he finds her and of course they have sex. The following morning, Michael catches Sarah replacing the necklace but think she is instead stealing it. When Sarah explains the whole story, Michael makes her a deal. If she poses as Seamus' new caretaker and steals the new will, Michael will not report Bertram's crime to the authorities.

Ever the martyr, Sarah agrees, anything to protect her grandfather. Even if it means being held a virtual captive in Michael's home, unable to even go home and get her clothes (a maid does that). She also has to take a leave of absence from her job, at a bank Michael conveniently owns. Oh sure, she has enough spunk to stand up to Seamus, but when it comes to Michael she's silly putty, emphasis on the silly. Her big show of backbone? To have the maid bring her little dog back to the mansion to bug Michael and to tell him that if the dog goes, she goes. She'll leave for the dog but not for her own self-respect? Enough said.

Michael is no prize himself. It's blatantly obvious he's manipulating Sarah to keep her around so he can get back in bed with her. He has his moments of guilt about his proposition, but obviously not string enough to do anything about. It's just not the ideal way to start a romance. In fact it's hard to see just where their love came from. As is common in this type of romance, instant attraction, lust and the nebulous "it just feels right" is substituted for any concrete relationship building.

Finally, as if the entire Hewitt-Wolff family feud wasn't contrived enough, the ending of it is even more so, as is the solution to Seamus' unexplained misfortunes. All it does is show that most of the main characters, martyr Sarah excluded, are self-absorbed people who only think of themselves.

Propositioned? follows the formula for spicy category romances almost to the letter. There is nothing new here and once the main characters are out of bed, the reader just doesn't care about them anymore.

--Anne Bulin

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