Billionaire's Marriage Bargain
Leanne Banks’ Billionaire’s Marriage Bargain is the sequel to Bedded by the Billionaire, a book I reviewed on my blog earlier in the year. Although written for Silhouette’s Desire line, these two books, and in particular this one, are very reminiscent of Harlequin Presents novels, albeit ones with American heroes. Certainly Alex Megalos, hero of this new book, is as arrogant and chauvinistic as an HP hero since he can’t imagine why any wife of his would want to work and he begins to date Mallory James after her father Edwin suggests to him that she needs a husband to keep her “wild side” from coming out. It’s not as though she indulges in Girls Gone Wild behavior, goes clubbing commando, or dances on table tops. No, Mallory wants a career as opposed to a marriage and doesn’t want to live at home any more. And, for the record, she’s in her mid-twenties.
I’ve long been a fan of the author and, while I liked the basic premise of this book, I made too many Kindle equivalents of dog-earring pages to highlight clunky writing or behavior so old-fashioned as to be ridiculous. Such as Mallory’s getting her master’s degree in secret and looking for a condo to buy on the sly because her father will forbid her to move out unless she’s married. Then there’s Alex’s acceptance of that kind of parental smothering, not to mention the fact that both of Mallory’s parents are so overly protective because of a childhood car accident that resulted in serious injuries for her, as well as the death of her brother (that’s childhood, as in almost 20 years in the past).
After Alex promises to look for a suitable husband for Mallory, he realizes that he’s the best choice since he finds her incredibly sexy, intelligent, and revels in her enjoyment of those things she dares to do, whether it’s driving too fast or para-sailing. But Mallory is convinced that Alex is too much the player for her, and even after they begin dating, she wants to keep their relationship a secret, first from her parents, and later, from the world.
Though he’s an over-protective father, Edwin allows Alex to take Mallory away on his private plane to Mexico to a resort for the weekend (I’m pretty sure he knows they are going to have sex, so this one came as a big surprise; equally surprising was Alex’s going to her father for his permission in advance). Their relationship does move to the next level, and when Alex discovers they fell victim to a paparazzi with a long lens while making love on a private beach, he and her father convince her that they must marry. The wedding is planned and executed in less than two weeks by Mallory’s mother, who quite frankly hasn’t been herself since that car accident so long ago. After the wedding, though, she’s taking Pilates and trying to interest her husband in it as well.
As for the newlyweds, Mallory’s fears about Alex’s reputation aren’t all she has to worry about after she overhears a conversation between her husband and father. She misconstrues his true interest in her and he, in typical arrogant male form, doesn’t allay her fears by uttering those three words that would make all of his troubles go away. Instead, an emotional estrangement builds between the two, exacerbated by one of Alex’s ex-girlfriends who’s been a problem since before their wedding. And ultimately, the threat from that other woman is what brings the two back together.
Much of the book worked, but Mallory’s father’s smothering and her mother’s inability to get over a loss nearly twenty years earlier didn’t sit well with me. Add to that Alex’s overly-done Greek chauvinism – he’s a second or third generation American, after all – and the introduction of a business rival named Damien Medici (what…Borgia was too obvious?) who I’m sure will be the hero in a later Banks book, and all of a sudden, Leanne Banks, comfort-read author, disappeared and in her place appeared Leanne Banks, writer of a stilted and clumsy romance.