Another Time, by Susan Napier

>> Friday, December 24, 2004

So much trashing Harlequin Presents in my review of The Substitute Wife and what do I pick up a few days later if not a Presents? ;-) To my defense, it was one of Susan Napier's, whose books are very different from the same old, same old books about greek billionaires and their pregnant virgin mistresses. This one was Another Time, written in 1989.

This Sleeping Beauty didn't want reawakening

Helen was horrified! She'd just met her fiancé's brother, celebrated author Alexander Knight -who'd revealed to her that, five years ago, they'd shared one searingly passionate night together. And Helen had no recollection of it watsoever!

Alexander had written a bestselling novel based on that blazing night, portraying Helen as his "angel". And now he was determined to win his luminous angel back.

But Helen refused to betray her loving fiancé, Greg, for the sake of a phantom past. Yet somethinga bout Alexander aroused disturbingly real sensations in her...
It takes an amazing author to take amnesia, a huge coincidence and a hero who is "saved" by the heroine's purity and innocence, all elements which are definitely not to my taste, and write a story I like. My grade would be a B.

It probably says something bad about me that I just love books which feature a heroine who's with the wrong brother. Yeah, it can be tawdry, and I know it's all a bit too incestuous for many readers, but when it works... wow! Here, it did work. And, incredibly enough, what helped keep the level of tawdryness down were the very romance staples which I mentioned above. Helen has a past with Alex which she doesn't remember, so it's not as if she had started something with him while involved with his brother... their "thing" came from before she even met Greg. And she didn't even meet Greg through Alex, their meeting was the huge coincidence I mentioned. Though, come to think of it, I don't know, I guess I have a high tolerance for this kind of thing. There's a scene near the end in which Alex does something that I objectively saw as a bit over-the-top in its tawdriness, and yet I loved that scene, found it really moving, that he was willing to go that far. Yep, I'm sick.

So anyway, I really enjoyed the whole situation, with Alex completely in love with Helen right from the beginning and determined that he'd win her somehow, even if he had to play a little dirty to do it. Oh, and by "play dirty" I don't mean kidnapping her or browbeating her into it, just not behaving "honourably", leaving the field to his brother. Helen's behaviour was understandable, too, including her resistance to Alex.

On the negative side, I wasn't too crazy about Alex's epiphany on the night he met Helen, when they had their one-night-stand. He'd been burnt out and practically on the point of suicide... bitter, completely disenchanted with humanity, and the whole way he completely turned his life around on that night, miraculously "cured" by Helen's magic hymen, or something, was just weird, and way too much a romance cliché. Though Alex's whole attitude towards this was sort of "yes, it's a cliché, but that's the way it was", and his acknowledgment of this made it more tolerable for me, I guess.

Some other thingsI liked... for one thing, that Napier didn't make Greg, Alex's brother, evil. His and Alex's past was complicated, and he'd done some bad things, but he's portrayed as a man who made a mistake, not as a villain. Also points for the setting, which is in New Zealand and includes some scenes in Hong Kong.

I'm very definitely going to be looking for more books in Napier's backlist, even if they're all Presents!

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