Somehow I've gotten myself on a list somewhere that means that Harlequin sends me free books and stuff and then I'm supposed to read them and say what I think. Well, reading books and saying what I think about them has never particularly been a problem for me, but it's been a while since I dallied with a Harlequin novel. This one, part of a series called Famous Families, has a cast of about a zillion related characters and follows the romance of Tara, lonely daughter of a CIA operative who has always wanted a big and loving family, and Axel Clay, the bodyguard who has to protect her from a nebulous mob-related threat. And he doesn't even know she's pregnant from their one-night stand four months ago! Don't worry, it all works out OK. I'm not a big fan of pregnancy-as-plot-device or novels in which the hero tries to make the heroine marry him for the sake of the child. However, the book did have some hints of character development, as well as remarkably little sex. It wasn't the worst romance novel I've ever read, but despite lines like "Maybe it was her imagination that those fingertips seemed to subtly flex against her, like the sheathed claws of some big, golden cat kneading against his soft prey" or "I don't just want roots, Axel. I want the entire tree," the book wasn't even bad enough to be really fun, either.
Random Thoughts: Again, why do romance novel protagonists always have to have such annoying names? Axel isn't the worst out there, but really, there's nothing that can put me out of my reading groove like a poor character name choice. The same is especially true of lesbian romance novels, which just have to go out of their way to have masculine sounding names for their heroines, like Jay and Drew--either that or utterly ridiculous names, like Rooke or Jett or Anidyr. Note to authors: most people don't have crazy names! Check the Social Security Administration for confirmation!
The best part of my strange relationship with Harlequin is that they sent me a free "60 Years of Harlequin" calendar, which features lots of cool vintage covers.