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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Perfect Presents!

by Anna Campbell

Today, I'm reviewing three delicious category romances by Sarah Morgan. CAPELLI'S CAPTIVE VIRGIN. POWERFUL GREEK, UNWORLDLY WIFE. ONE NIGHT...NINE-MONTH SCANDAL.

Yup, we're in the land of Harlequin Presents (called Modern in the U.K. and Sexy in Australia - which gives my Aussie Presents writer friends the chance to say, "Hey, I'm a Sexy Author!"). The land of virgins and billionaires and sheikhs and Greeks. Secret babies. Marriages of convenience. Revenge. Oh, my!

I grew up reading Harlequin Presents (Anne Mather was my favorite when I was a teenager - oh, my sainted aunt, she was pretty hot for back in the Dark Ages!). Except they were called Mills and Boons back then - all published under one line. It's a while since I've had a real binge on Presents. I read all three of these in one day - talk about total immersion!

Sarah is an English writer and all these books feature unworldly English heroines - although these girls are from from the wimpy virgins of legend! The heroes are all larger-than-life Mediterranean tycoons, one Italian, two Greek.

ONE NIGHT...NINE-MONTH SCANDAL sounds like it should be a secret baby story but actually the baby is pretty much common knowledge from close to the beginning (where we have a very passionate encounter!). This story charts the reunion story between Alekos Zagorakis, passionate Greek shipping magnate (of course!), and innocent teacher Kelly Jenkins. In best Cinderella style, Alekos sweeps Kelly away to a life of glamour and drama in Corfu. Lucky Kelly!

POWERFUL GREEK, UNWORLDLY WIFE is also a Cinderella story - another reunion tale between Leandro Demetrios, Greek billionaire banker, and humble farm girl Millie who he married after a whirlwind romance. Sarah Morgan loves these matching-of-opposites tales, and throws in a nice dollop of juicy English class system for good measure. This one has elements of the Princess Di story (especially when it comes to the role of the paparazzi) and is a real page-turner.

CAPELLI'S CAPTIVE VIRGIN uses one of my favorite romance tropes - the passionate lover and the woman of (supposed) ice caught in an attraction they can't resist. To save her sister, relationships consultant Lindsay Lockheart (great name!) accepts a short-term post as secretary to celebrity Italian divorce lawyer Alessio Capelli. He whisks her off to his private island in the Caribbean - and you can imagine what happens after that. Let's just say it's not just the weather that's hot!

As you can probably tell, these stories are all classic Presents. But they're more than that - a lot of elements make them stand out from the crowd. Sarah Morgan writes really beautifully and she has a great ear for witty dialogue. These women might be socially inferior to the men who pursue them, but they're no pushovers. A Sarah Morgan heroine is perfectly capable of standing up for herself and putting her arrogant Greek/Italian in his place when he tries to ride roughshod over her. The relationships are the give and take of equals - and it's lovely seeing the arrogant hero driven to distraction because he's not getting his own way for once. Sarah also writes sexual tension that you can cut with a knife.

I devoured these books like chocolate! And went to the Book Depository and ordered three more. Clearly I'm putting my money where my mouth is.

My verdict - wonderful, irresistible fun!

So are you a Harlequin Presents fan? Are you into Greeks and sheikhs? Does the prospect of a secret baby fill you with quivering excitement? How about a marriage of convenience that you know is going to be SOOOO inconvenient? Are you ready to be whisked off to Corfu?

NEWSFLASH! NEWSFLASH! SARAH HAS VERY KINDLY AGREED TO GIVE AWAY A SIGNED COPY OF HER LATEST RELEASE THE TORTURED RAKE/A NIGHT OF SCANDAL TO ONE COMMENTER TODAY. HOW COOL IS THAT? GOOD LUCK, PEOPLE!

62 comments:

  1. OK, not to hurt anyone's feelings or anything, but I haven't read a Harliquin in decades. But saying that, Anna, your reviews have me wanting to pick up a couple now. These sound a bit meatier than the ones I read when I was younger. Keep it up and I'll end up with a bookshelf full once again!

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  2. Marie, filling your bookshelf is my aim in life! ;-) I've done such a wonderful job with my own, I feel like spreading the lurve!

    I love these. Although they're very modern (and Modern!), they take me right back to the Anne Mathers I read as a teenager. That wonderful feeling of being swept away to a bigger, more glamorous, more dramatic world. Seriously, if you're thinking of getting back into Harlequins, I think these might be a great start.

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  3. They sound like treats, Anna! You had me when you mentioned dialogue. I'm a sucker for great dalogue!

    I'm just about to settle down with some Annie West, myself:)

    Thanks for the recommendations!

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  4. Christina, Annie's latest is great! You'll have a wonderful time with it. I must say, Sarah's books remind me of Annie's in a lot of ways. They really have those wonderful hooks that 'hooked' me to this line when I was a teenager. There's an emotional punch to these stories when they're done right that really works a treat.

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  5. I have quite a few Harlequin Presents in my TBR pile although I am rather hesitant to say why. :)

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  6. Sheree, your secret is safe with us. ;-) I've spent most of my life reading Harlequin Presents so there's always a few hanging around the house. Another great author I've discovered recently is India Grey. Again, like Sarah and Annie, her books hit those really classic notes.

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  8. Hi Anna,

    *stalker alert*

    I just finished with Annie West's PRINCE OF SCANDAL and it was a fabulous story. I'm deep in Kate Hewit's MR AND MISCHIEF, and it has a totally different hook! I'm raring for it to end to see what happens to this two characters!

    Next I have Sarah Morgan's TORTURED RAKE, so would be jumping into that later tonight!

    All these Sarah Morgan books, you've highlighted sound awesome!

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  9. Nas, Sarah's a fairly recent discovery for me and I've devoured every book of hers I can get my hands on. You'll love the Tortured Rake! Hey, stalk away! ;-) So glad you enjoyed Prince of Scandal - I think it's one of Annie's best. I love how she does these wonderful sexy Cinderella stories. Gorgeous!

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  10. I'll tell you, one of the best things about the Harlequins is they are usually a quick read. Meaning, I can take one with me to the beach (if I'm in a beachy area) and have it finished by the time I'm back home. A family member of Hubby's used to write Harlequins, years ago. She wrote under the name, Lynn Tuner. I remember she did an 'angel' book if I'm not mistaken, probably right after DM's "The Trouble With Angels" w/Shirely, Goodness and Mercy. 3 of my all time favorite charachters.

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  11. WHOOO HOOOOOOOOOO a giveaway too!!! Thanks!!

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  12. Marie, I remember Lynn Turner. She didn't write a lot of Harlequins but they were fabulous. One of my faves had a woman pretending to be a nun and a guy getting her out of a revolution (in Africa, I think - it's a lot of years ago). Loved that book! I agree with you about the compact length being just the thing sometimes - I'm working on a book at the moment and I can't sit and read 400 pages in one go but I can read a Harlequin in a couple of hours so I still get my reading fix without skiving off from my page count on my own stuff. Perfect!

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  13. I'm stoked Sarah saw this and offered a giveaway. I can spread more word of her awesomeness! Hmm, suddenly I sound like I'm 16! Why is this so? LOL!

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  14. Anna, I'm so thrilled you enjoyed the books and thanks for passing on the recommendation. Can't imagine you reading 3 in one day - clearly you're a hedonist! Hope you had champagne and chocolates at the same time
    Sarah
    x

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  15. I do love a good romp with Greeks and sheikhs & marriages of convenience. Pleasurable reading.

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  16. Anna

    I love them as well and pick a lot of them up on the first of every month at my local Big W store LOL.

    I love a Cinderella story and having babies in them and the Greeks and Italians and Sheikhs and all that wealth and yachts they are great reads

    I will have to try Sarah Morgan I don't think I have read any of hers yet

    Have Fun
    Helen

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  17. I love Harlequin Presents! I don't have a lot of time to read these days, usually 2 hours a night. I can finish a steamy Harlequin Presents in one sitting. I would have to say that engagements and marriages of convenience are my favorite types of Harlequin stories.

    Thanks for the great giveaway!

    user1123 AT comcast DOT net

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  18. I love the secret baby plots and Greek or Italian tycoons...lol.....
    though I will admit that I haven't read about a Sheikh in a long time...I shop at Harlequin quite often...lol

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  19. Oh yeah! Love Harlequin books because they are like eating addictive popcorn. You just can't stop! I love the secret babies and marriages of convenience. Yes-Yes! I would so love to win and then: It's "popcorn" time!
    Connie Fischer
    conniecape@aol.com

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  20. Sorry, guys, blogger has been playing up something awful! Bloggy Blogger (as we ALMOST say down here in Oz!). Apologies to those who have tried to get on and haven't managed it. Thanks to those who have managed it! xxx

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  21. Great post, Anna. Will have to check these recommendations out.

    I was pleasantly surprise a few years ago when I tried some of the newer Presents and other Mills & Boon lines. I hadn't read them for years - having switched to the longer category romances. They've certainly moved with the times, yet have kept the aspects that we loved about the old ones.

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  22. Hey Marie - I remember Lynn Turner and have several of her books!

    Speaking of angel series - I still have the Intrigue series about angels, from when Intrigues were first launched!

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  23. Wow, Annie, I haven't read any of Sarah Morgan's books, but boy do I need to change that! :-)

    Each one of these books sound fabulous!

    Thanks for sharing ... and for adding to the TBR pile - LOL!

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  24. Oh, Marie, you really need to go back and try HQ again. I think they are perfect quick, fun reads and I always seem to find a new author to follow.

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  25. I'm a sucker for great dalogue!


    Christine, me too!! There's nothing like great dialogue to up the measure of a good book.

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  26. Sheree, I don't think you can ever have too many HQ books in the TBR pile ;-)

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  27. Nas Dean, I hate to admit it but I still haven't read an Annie West book. (hiding from Anna). I just haven't made it around to her books yet, but so many people rave about her writing.

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  28. Sarah Morgan, thank you so much for stopping by the site and for offering up a giveaway. I'm looking forward to diving into your books.

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  29. I do love a good romp with Greeks and sheikhs & marriages of convenience

    Marybelle, I don't think I could have said it better myself ;-)

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  30. Helen, you haven't tried Sarah Morgan yet either? At least I'm in good company and I know if you are going to like then I will too since our tastes are so similiar.

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  31. I can finish a steamy Harlequin Presents in one sitting.


    I totally agree with you, Stacie

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  32. I shop at Harlequin quite often...lol

    Maria, isn't it great to shop online for HQ books. I love their site.

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  33. Hey Anna S!! So good to see you around!! :-)

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  34. Hey, Anna! What a great blog! I've only read a couple Harlequin Presents, but I do like a good secret baby plot. In fact, I haven't read one in awhile...makes me want to rectify that! :)

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  35. Sarah, delighted you loved the post. Thanks for swinging by. Seriously, I had a wonderful wallow the day I read those three (and then a week later, I read another three - and now I'm stuck waiting for your next book which is killing me!). I didn't NEED champagne and chocolates!

    And thank you so much for offering everyone a giveaway here. Lucky people!

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  36. Mary, there's just something magical about Presents World, isn't there? I remember the first time a friend of mine referred to the line as Greeks and Sheikhs. Made me giggle!

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  37. Helen, all that glitz and glamour is such a fun part of these stories, isn't it? Love it? As you say, the yachts! Do I want a yacht? Oh, no, I do not...NOT! Hmm, channeling Frank Sinatra there!

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  38. Stacie, I have to say I've always been a sucker for the marriage of convenience stories. I love them in historicals too. I love the fact that these two are trapped under one roof even when they don't want to be - and we just KNOW what's going to happen. Snicker!

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  39. Maria, try Annie West's sheikhs. They're some of the best in the business. As you can probably tell, I've been on a bit of a Presents binge lately. Read a stack of India Greys too. They're the most wonderful escapism! And as a few people have pointed out, they're a great way to have fun for a couple of hours!

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  40. Connie, I agree with you about them being a great way to escape the rigors of the world for a couple of hours. Actually the really good ones pack a big emotional punch too which is wonderful. It's a writing skill I really admire - that ability to really touch the heart in only 50,000 words.

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  41. Anna, waving madly at my Bandita buddy. Thanks so much for swinging by! Actually you put it perfectly - they great new Presents have moved with the time but you still get that wham bam factor (stop it, you lot, you have SUCH dirty minds!) you got with the older classic stories. Love it. I love that in Sarah's books, the heroines are so strong. They might be poor - sometimes they're poor to the point of destitution - but they're not going to be pushed around, no sirree. Such fun!

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  42. Buffie, Sarah was new to me too but wow, she's wonderful. She's become an autobuy for me since I discovered her and I wanted to share my admiration with you all! Yeah, this site is BADDDDDDDDD for the TBR pile - and the credit card. But good for the soul ;-)

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  43. Buffie, Buffie, Buffie, I'm going to send a Greek Sheikh over to spank you with his huge...wallet! You MUST read an Annie West. They're fabulous!!!! She's got a new one out in July that's a real treat - PRINCE OF SCANDAL. It's a really fairytale royal romance and I love it.

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  44. Andrea, grab a nice cup of coffee and a box of chocolates and your latest squeeze... Well, if without your latest squeeze, the first two will work! And pick up one of Sarah's books. I bet you're there till the last luscious page!

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  45. Phew, blogger seems to be behaving! Thanks, everyone, for swinging by. I'm having such fun talking about these great books today! And isn't it lovely of Sarah to give us a prize? When she emailed me and suggested it after the blog went up, I was absolutely delighted!

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  46. Hey, I seem to have become the messenger of the gods.

    Annie West just emailed to say she hasn't been able to get onto the site. She's really rapt in the wonderful comments you've all been making about her books (although she's going to send Prince Raul around to give Buffie a stern talking to about reading one of her books as soon as possible - actually I added that, Annie's much too nice! LOL!). She also said:

    Anna, I adore Presents stories. How could I not? And I'm thrilled to see you've chosen to focus today on one of my fave authors. Sarah's books are always full of passion and emotion and real people. Milly the farmer is a case in point but it's hard for me to choose a favorite story. I'm trying to remember the name of a particularly enthralling south American story from several years ago. I've got it somewhere...

    I'm glad you enjoyed all three of those titles. So did I! I'm wondering what book of hers is out next in Australia.

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  47. Actually, I just started reading Harlequin lines this year. Boy, I didn't know what I was missing! I always thought "those books" weren't worth my time. I sure am glad I was proved wrong. And now the Harlequin website gets quite a bit of my business!

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  48. Artemis, I think it's a real pity that romance - and I have to say Harlequin in particular - get such negative press in the wider world. There's some fabulous books and writers in category fiction. And the variety is enormous - yet people who don't know them deride them as "all the same." Grrr! If you haven't read Sarah's books, give them a go. They're really classic love stories and beautifully done!

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  49. Anna, as usual, you have recommended more delicious books that I simply MUST have! *g*

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  50. I enjoy setting down to a Harliquin every so often. They make for a quick read when you don't have a lot of time and also very good.

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  51. My first romances were historicals and they are still my favorite. I have read the Presents Line from time to time. I think I have a box of them in my TBR mountain. As with most books, I'll read the blurb and if the story grabs me, I'll grab the book no matter the genre or book line. There is nothing wrong with dreaming of modern princes, millionaires/billionaires, sheiks, or shipping magnates.
    Who wouldn't want to be swept off to Corfu?

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  52. OK I promise to check out the newer HQ series. I really did like them at one time. And basically if the story is good, it really doesn't matter who published it, I'm sure I'll enjoy it.

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  53. Gannon, I live to coax you to exercise the Visa card ;-)

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  54. Virginia, I agree with you. And sometimes they're wonderful for a wallow when you know exactly what you're in the mood for.

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  55. Ah, Corfu!!! I'm with you, Pat! I read right across the genres. Just at the moment, for some reason, I'm not really in the mood for historicals. Perhaps because I'm trying to write my own! Harlequins really seem to be hitting the right chord in Campbellandia at the moment. I'm doing Supers next month!

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  56. Marie, I think that's the secret - if the story's good, the story's good, end of, ahem, STORY!

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  57. Hey, thanks, guys for a fabulous day in the lair. Apologies to those who didn't manage to get in - I know how frustrating that can be! I'll check with Sarah what she wants to do with the giveaway and I'll be BAAAAACCCCKKKK!

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  58. Hey, girls, a winner has been chosen! MARYBELLE, congratulations! Thanks to everyone else who swung by. Doing a giveaway on one of my reviews is a real bonus - as you know, it's usually just the reward of a good chat. Thanks again to Sarah!

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  59. I love Harlequin Presents and the rest of the Harlequin series.

    smccar1 at hotmail dot com

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  60. The Presents line is my favorite Harlequin line. I love the marriage of convenience with a wealthy Greek or Italian. throw in a sexy Sheik every now and again and I am a happy reader.

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  61. Hey, Stephanie, cool! Actually I've had great fun here talking about the Harlequin Presents line. That's what started me on reading romance and I still read quite a lot of those books.

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  62. Gigi, there's something quite addictive about those books, isn't there? If you haven't read Sarah's Presents/Sexys/Moderns, I'd highly recommend them. Sounds like they're right up your alley.

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