A Rich Man's Whim (A Bride for a Billionaire) by Lynne Graham
Reading Level: Adult Romance
Release Date: May 1, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Presents
Pages: 189 pages
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry
Kat Marshall is a 35-year-old virgin who has spent the past 12 years raising the younger half-sisters that her callous, flighty mother has abandoned. Currently the bank is on the verge of foreclosing on Kat's bed-and-breakfast, which has been the only means of supporting her and her sisters all these years. In addition, Kat's 23-year-old sister is pregnant by a man she won't name and has come to live with Kat because she has nowhere else to go. Then suddenly, in the middle of a blizzard, three men show up on Kat's doorstep seeking shelter at her bed-and-breakfast, one of them with a sprained ankle from a hiking accident.
Thirty-year-old Mikhail Kusnirovich is the only son of a deceased Russian oil oligarch. Mikhail's workaholic approach to business has massively extended the fortune he inherited into the billionaire range. He is a gorgeous alpha male who can (and has) had any woman he wanted since puberty--until Kat. The moment he sets eyes on the flame-haired beauty, he's determined to make her his lover, but Kat has no intention of being another notch on the Russian tycoon's bedpost.
Mikhail has never been told, "No," by a woman in his life, but rather than being discouraged, he is more determined than ever to have Kat. The problem is how best to accomplish his sensual goal. He has never paid a woman for sex in his life. It is abhorrent to him. But when he has Kat's background checked and discovers her terrible financial situation, he decides, with much misgiving at this violation of his principles, to make her a financial offer she can't refuse. He buys up the mortgage on her property and tells her if she will spend a month with him on his yacht as his hostess, he will sign over her property to her, free and clear. He salves his pride, and Kat's, by assuring her that nothing sexual will happen between them unless it's her idea. But he's confident that with her conveniently pinned to his side, day and night, her seduction is inevitable.
There is no other Harlequin Presents author that I read but Lynne Graham. The requirements for this line are so narrow, it takes real brilliance to write essentially the same story again and again, year after year, and virtually every book, make the old, new once more. Lynne Graham has that gift. It also takes major talent to write romance-novel sex scenes that are not a boring list of body parts swelling and heaving. I almost always skim them these days, because I've read so many across decades as a big romance fan, rarely does it feel like anything to me but, "Ho hum." Not so with Lynne Graham. She does what not enough romance authors manage to achieve--bring so much intensity to the interactions between her protagonists both outside and inside the bedroom that the sex scenes are filled with drama and emotional fire. Sex is never for its own sake, it serves to reveal new facets of the protagonists' personalities as it both brings the lovers together and pushes them apart, at the same time.
I was also delighted to see in this story a Harlequin Presents with a cougar plot, which I have never encountered in this particular short-contemporary line. In a bit of comic relief in the midst of a very dramatic story, when Kat learns Mikhail is five years younger than her, she recoils from being a cougar having a fling with a "boy toy." Mikhail's extreme offense at the term in reference to him is hilarious.
Because the heroine is not in her early 20's and utterly naive, she is a worthy opponent for the hero, meeting him toe to toe in every scene, unlike so many beggar-maid plots in Harlequin Presents where there are enormous emotional as well as financial disparities between the hero and heroine.
I am also happy to report that there is no unplanned pregnancy resulting in a secret baby in this story, in spite of the requisite, "I forgot the condom" scene. The hero does not blackmail the heroine for sex in any way, and though the inevitable Cinderella makeover occurs, there is a comic twist on it that is quite original.
In short, fans of Lynne Graham will be delighted with this book.
I rate this book as follows:
Romance Plot: 5