“I’ve never read a Mills & Boon that starts with a funeral before.”
I can vividly imagine the look on quite a few faces as they wonder:
Of all the reasons to choose a book, that was the reason you went with?
I hear that. As reasons for choosing a romance novel go, it’s pretty out there! Yet, in the world of Wanda-logic, it made perfect sense.
In a genre in which, the formula is as set as a Christmas trifle – boy meets girl/girl meets boy (oops, went a bit Tommy Cooper there for a second!), weirdness and attraction is afoot, drama ensues, make up sex is had, happily ever after, the end – what interests me as a reader and a writer isn’t what happens. What interests me is how it happens.
How do our hero and heroine get from nought to smoochies in 2.6 seconds? What bombshell throws them headlong into the time-honoured “fighting in the rain” scene? And where, oh where, do the condoms come from without it seeming like anyone was expecting “that thing that just happened”?
And that’s where I was this time a couple of weeks ago as I pondered which book was going to be next on my literary playlist.
How was Michelle Smart, author of Claiming His One-Night Baby going to work from such a grim beginning? Especially when, with the time scale of the average accidentally pregnant romance novel, we’re talking nought to smoochies in 0.6 seconds (so that the plot can really get going)?
Well…time to crack out the SPOILER ALERT gif…’cuz here we go!
[Pic: Illumination Entertainment]
Our Dashing Hero:
“Dr Dishy”, Matteo Manaserro has carried the guilt for the fire that disfigured his brother since he was a child. Determined to make it right, he trains to become a reconstructive surgeon to heal Roberto and help others in similar situations (bless!). However, Matty boy’s poor little heart is broken when the love of his life, Natasha, agrees to marry his rich cousin and friend, Pieta. Soon after, his brother passes away and Matteo goes completely off the deep end, discarding his hopes and ideals to (pretty successfully) chase money and fame. Years later, meeting Natasha again at Pieta’s funeral, he’s determined to stay away from her. Yet, as the title suggests, he doesn’t quite manage it.
Our Damsel in Distress:
Young Natasha fell for Matteo in a heartbeat. However, her money centric, self-serving, upper crust parents had other ideas. Matteo’s cousin and life-long bestie, Pieta needs a wife-in-name-only to claim his family inheritance and Natasha’s parents need some bread and butter money. Put on the spot and publically proposed to at a family gathering (bad form Pieta!), Natasha agrees to marry him to please her parents. Stuck in a controlling, loveless and sexless marriage, Natasha knows that Matteo will never forgive her. Which, is why she is particularly surprised to find him standing on her doorstep the evening following her husband’s funeral (duh-duh-DUH!).
My Two Penneth.
There are so many classic Mills & Boon themes that we all know and love in there, such as, rocky prior relationships, the one that got away and some good old-fashioned Daddy issues. When you’ve read a lot in the romance genre, it’s so easy to get desensitised to the emotion behind those things but there’s something about how Michelle writes that gives it a wonderfully human tone from the very beginning. Claiming His One-Night Baby walks the line between genuine, relatable human struggle and the escapism that is such a big part of the Mills & Boon charm, so very well. And I loved that about it!
Spoiler alert notwithstanding, I won’t ruin the major twist for you by going into too much detail (in fairness, you’ll probably guess it anyway but, you know, good measure and all that!). I ploughed through this book hoping that the twist wouldn’t be what I was expecting and when it came to the big reveal, I did find myself a little disappointed. At the time, it felt like a device employed to explain how Natasha could still be a virgin. However, in hindsight, I think that my initial reactions were perhaps a bit cynical. It is clear by the end of the book that what Michelle was going for was, all the characters involved are (and were) really just damaged people trying to move forward in life and not always getting it right (though, I did sometimes feel that Natasha was a bit too forgiving). So, if you get to that point and find yourself in the same boat that I did, all I can say is bear with it and try not to judge it too harshly. It really is a thoroughly enjoyable read.
Wanda-ometer rating for Claiming His One-Night Baby:
Happily Ever After:
Claiming His One-Night Baby is available for purchase from 1st September 2017: