Once In Paris
Ewww!!! That was my reaction time and again while I was reading Once In Paris, a contemporary romance by Diana Palmer. Let me make myself clear, I do not mind it when there is an age discrepancy between the hero and heroine in a romance – LaVyrle Spencer did a wonderful job handling a romance between a young woman and a man who was much older, in Years. But in this book, the relationship between Brianne and Pierce had a Lolita quality about it that made me queasy at times.
Brianne Martin is 19-years-old and lives in Paris with her mother and her step-father, Kurt Brauer, a wealthy businessman who has shady connections. Brianne hates Kurt and is not very happy with her mother for marrrying so soon after Brianne’s father’s death. One day while Brianne is skipping school and hanging out at the Louvre, she meets L. Pierce Hutton, a businessman who is an acquaintance of her step-father. They exchange a few double entendres. Pierce has just lost his wife to cancer, and is grieving. A few days later, Brianne meets Pierce in a bistro where he is very drunk and in danger of being robbed by a prostitute. She takes him to his hotel, undresses him and puts him to bed. Pierce is not too drunk to exchange more double entendres with Brianne and then protest that she is a minor, as she is removing his clothing and leaving him to sleep it off.
We move to Bermuda. Brianne is living there with her mother and Kurt, and hates it. She fears that Kurt is going to make her marry Phillipe Sabon, a Middle-Eastern businessman with a reputation for degeneracy. Pierce lives nearby, and Brianne runs to his villa to talk things over. Pierce is acquainted with Philippe, and knows that if Brianne is not a virgin, Phillipe will not be interested in her.
Pierce takes Brianne’s virginity, manually, while murmuring that she has such a beautiful, nubile young body. My jaw dropped like a rock at this point. Pierce then proposes a marriage of convenience to protect Brianne from Philippe’s clutches. Then he gives her oral sex after telling her she is too young for a real marriage (she’s 20, he’s 38). They go to Las Vegas, tie the knot, and are promptly kidnapped by Phillipe on their return.
The plot gets very complicated from this point on, with Phillipe not the deep-dyed villain he seems to be, and with Kurt, involving Phillipe, Brianne, and Pierce, in a truly fiendish plan to start a war so he can make money.
I most emphatically did not like this book. The whole relationship between Brianne and Pierce was just so unhealthy. I got the feeling that Brianne looked on Pierce as a father-figure, and it is not until the very last page that he finally quits obsessing over his dead wife. Even though 20 is not that young, Pierce treats Brianne like a child at times, and then turns right around and has eye-popping sex with her. At one point Pierce gets all huffy with Brianne because she drinks champagne and she is not 21 yet. So, it’s bad for her to drink champagne, but okay for her to have oral sex, manual sex, and sex sex with him?!! Ack!