Exposed: Misbehaving With The Magnate, by Kelly Hunter

>> Thursday, September 03, 2009

TITLE: Exposed: Misbehaving With The Magnate
AUTHOR: Kelly Hunter

PAGES: 187
PUBLISHER: Mills & Boon Modern

SETTING: Contemporary France (well...)
TYPE: Series romance
SERIES: First in a duet

REASON FOR READING: Impulse grab at the library

Gabrielle Alexander has never forgotten Lucien Duvalier's hungry kisses. But she'd been banished from her home in France to the vineyards of Australia for tempting him, and Luc had turned his back on her and taken his rightful place as the head of his family's Champagne dynasty.

Seven years later, Gabrielle is back in France, determined to make a life for herself and equally determined to resist Lucien. There can be no room in Luc's life for the housekeeper's daughter, or for the heat that simmers between them. For a man like Luc, dedication to business and iron control over wayward passion is paramount.

Or is it?
Gabrielle's mother is the housekeeper at Luc's family's castle in Champagne. She and her brother and Luc and his sister played together growing up, but her mother always insisted on making sure Gabrielle knew her place (ensuring the message got through through violent means, if necessary). When teenaged Gabrielle and Luc are found making out, mom is inflexible and sends her away.

Gabrielle settles with her brother in Australia, where they establish a wine business, which flourishes. As the book starts, Gabrielle has received the news that her mother's very ill, and, she decides to travel back to Champagne. It's a combined personal / business trip, as she and her brother want to start selling their wines in France, and Gabrielle means to use her trip to explore distribution possibilities.

The book is a very weird combination of modern and old-fashioned. I quite liked some of the more modern aspects. When Gabrielle and Luc meet again, they're in very different relative positions than they were all those years before. Gabrielle is a successful businesswoman now. She knows her worth and is confident in her skills, and Luc is very happy this is so. He respects her completely.

Unfortunately, there's that old fashioned element as well. No matter how successful, Gabrielle is still.... ta-dam!... The Housekeeper's Daughter! She is and always will be, etc., etc.

Now, what the hell? This is 2009 France, not 1950s. I couldn't believe these otherwise completely modern characters would care in the least, which meant that when Gabrielle and Luc were dancing around each other, trying to resist their attraction and moaning that oh, it would never work, I was asking "what the hell is the problem??" I didn't believe the conflict for a minute. And I do know I'm being unfair here, because I would have had less of a problem with it if the environment were that sort of alternate universe some Presents are set in (you know, with mistresses and ruthless billionaires). But it's not, and so this element just didn't fit.

It also didn't help that all the characters have some puzzling reactions and conversations. They'll go off in ways that made no sense whatsoever, all the freaking time. I kept thinking these were not real people.

As I neared the end, I was almost skimming. Not only had I lost patience with Gabrielle (Luc was a bit better), I was also annoyed by the transparent set-up for the next book. Royalty, yawn.



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