Island Enchantment, by Robyn Donald

>> Tuesday, December 20, 2005

I don't really remember why I bought a bunch of old Robyn Donald Harlequin Presents. I think someone might have recommended her on the comments after one of my Susan Napier posts, but damned Haloscan keeps only the last 150 comments, so I can't find that. I'm seriously thinking of attempting to install Blogger comments again.

Anyway, the first Robyn Donald I tried was Island Enchantment.

She'd fallen into his plans like the naive fool she was - allowing him to charm her totally and to use the bewildering response of her body against her. Behind his devastating facade was a ruthless businessman - a man determined to steal her home and her livelihood in the north of New Zealand. That had been seven years ago. Now, face-to-face once again with Guy Lorimer, Mike couldn't run from the dark spell that still drew her to him. And she knew the only way to break free was to give in to her desires - totally, recklessly and let the pieces fall.
I'm afraid it wasn't a success. Island Enchantment was just chock-full of the very elements which made me stop reading the old translated Harlequins, which are so easy and cheap to find here in Montevideo, and motivated me to go through the trouble and expense of getting other kinds of romance novels. This one had it all (except the crappy translation, that is, since this one was the original English version): weak-willed, extremely naive heroine; cold, derisive hero, whose POV we're not privy to, and simplistic plot. It also had a wonderful setting, which was what so often attracted me to some of these books, but that just wasn't enough to compensate for the rest. A D+.

A short summary, since the blurb I quoted above is not particularly informative: 20-year-old Mike Christopher (the heroine; Mike is short for Michaela) has been living and working at the Far Islands resort ever since her mother died 4 years before and left her all alone in the world. The resort's owner has gone into a funk since his wife died and he crawled into the bottle, so the resort has been going to pieces. Mike does her best to keep it running, working in every area, from dusk till dawn, but it's just not enough.

One day Guy Lorimer, a mysterious, masterful stranger arrives at the resort, and Mike feels a powerful spark of attraction for him, one that he seems to return. He... well, I wouldn't exactly say he woos her, because he's much too coldly arrogant for that. He comes on to her, at any rate, and Mike soon falls for him. They spend a lot of time together, and Mike often takes him exploring the area, which always seems to result in some passionate interludes.

This section wasn't good at all. I couldn't really understand Mike's attraction to Guy. Ok, so he was attractive, so I understand a bit of lust, but the man did not have an attractive personality! He was always cold and derisive and insulting, typical old HP fare. And Mike was a particularly irritating heroine, all defensive about the hotel owner and the way she's being exploited, and oh-so-pliant whenever Guy expressed any interest at all, no matter how insulting he was about it.

After Guy leaves, Mike finds out he was the advance for a group that has bought the resort, and both the owner and the rest of the employees will need to vacate the premises. There is no way any of them can keep their jobs, apparently, and Mike gets terribly upset about all this and travels to the mainland to confront Guy.

And here I had another problem. Instead of getting upset at Guy for using her (he was just doing his job, but did he really need to seduce an obviously innocent young woman to do it?), she gets upset at him because of the hotel purchase. Never mind that the owner had been running the hotel into the ground, never mind that the other employees were quite incompetent, Guy's EVIL for wanting to buy Harry's hotel. She never even considers blaming poor Harry for not taking care of his business and putting his employees at risk.

So off she goes to see Guy. When he sees him, she does say her piece, but again, the ninny goes all submissive when Guy makes yet another move on her. It was just weird, as if she's gone into a trance and had the word "no" removed from her vocabulary. Everything Guy proposes she does. Go to dinner, go to bed with him, everything. And the little misunderstanding there at the end, about her motivations for going to bed with him, was just so, so silly.

The action then fast-forwards 7 years (I wouldn't ordinarily mention this, since it happens way past the half-way point of the book, but it's plastered all over the back cover) and Mike and Guy meet again. She's supposedly grown up and become worldly and sophisticated, but she shows just the same backbone she showed at the beginning when confronted by Guy: none whatsoever.

Guy confesses to her that his motivations back then hadn't been the ones she thought, that he loved her and blah, blah, blah, but it just didn't ring true to me. There was this huge disconnect between his actions and what he says he was feeling, and actually, his actions and the way he speaks to Mike in the present-day action didn't sound particularly loving to me, no matter what he said. He was the same old cold, insulting, etc. bastard, as far as I'm concerned, no matter how much he protested he loved Mike. Maybe getting inside his head and seeing some of the action from his POV, instead of all from Mike's would have helped bridge this disconnect somewhat, but Island Enchantment follows the rigid rules and never peeks into his mind.

Oh, well, at least it was a short and quick read. Now, what should I do about those other Robyn Donalds in my TBR? I don't feel at all tempted to try them now!


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