Million Dollar Stud by Meg Lacey
(Harl. Tempt. #879, $3.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-25979-4
*
As a reader nothing bothers me more than when my intelligence is being insulted. Honestly Harlequin, Million Dollar Stud?! The only logical explanation I have for this moronic title is that it was conceived during the office happy hour. However, Harlequin does have this knack for putting dopey titles on good books, so despite cringing every time I had to haul this book out in public, I kept an open mind when reading the story. Unfortunately, it’s equally as insulting.

Richard Darcy Kristof is a bored gazillionaire. Desperate for an adventure, he makes a wager with his lawyer cousin - Darcy is going to live one month, in the middle of nowhere, without any of his gazillionaire resources. Going under the assumed name of Rick Darcy, he is soon working as temporary manager of Braybourne Farms in tiny Cecil, Kentucky.

Sylvia “Silver” Braybourne is a daddy’s little girl who wants to turn the family farm around. All she’s ever wanted to do is run the farm, but Daddy just can’t get past the fact that she’s a girl. Not only does he keep trying to marry her off, but he also doesn’t take her seriously when she tries to show him that the troubled horse he won in a poker game is a sure winner. Adding insult to injury he hires Rick Darcy for the job she should rightfully have.

Where does one begin? Darcy is conceited, spoiled and an egomaniac. Women are mere playthings, and he freely admits within the first chapter that they tend to bore him to tears. Well, that is, they don’t bore him enough to make him stop wanting to seduce them - and the minute he meets Silver he’s working overtime to get into her pants.

Silver falls into the feisty heroine category. The only thing that was missing to complete the picture was her whining “But Daddy…” and stamping her feet. Not only does the reader have the read the same old “I can run the family business better than any man” claptrap, but Silver is completely spineless. So Daddy won’t let her run the farm - why doesn’t she pack her bags, and go to work for someone who does take her seriously? Instead she continues to train the troubled horse, succumb to Darcy’s busy hands, and allow Daddy to treat her like a brainless twit.

The secondary characters are all out central casting. There’s the clueless yet doting father, the steel magnolia mother, the brash local woman who runs a burger joint, and the wise, old farm hand (nicknamed Tater of all things). Add to this the I-hate-you-I-want-you relationship between Darcy and Silver and I think I actually felt my brain begin to melt.

There is a very minor bright spot towards the end of the story, which features Silver telling Darcy off big time. Unfortunately this is a romance, and there has to be a happily-ever-after. Silly me, I held out hope that she would keep on walking - I know nothing would have made me happier.

Stories with titles like Million Dollar Stud do little to improve the image of category romance. My advice is to check out some of the more favorable category reviews featured at TRR. Anything has to be better than this.

--Wendy Crutcher


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