HP: The Magnate’s Indecent Proposal by Ally Blake

Why I read it:

I read the review over at AAR and I decided to give this new-to- author a try.  I’m glad I did.

What it’s about:

Chelsea London (yes, I know – but the characters roll their eyes too, so it’s all good) has a dog grooming business in Melbourne.  She meets her sister (Kensington!) for breakfast at a swisho restaurant where you have to hand over your mobile phone before you go in.  She (literally) trips over a gorgeous specimen of manhood (Damien Halliburton, our hero and the day-trading magnate of the title) and it’s lust at first sight.  Still, until they phones get inadvertently swapped, both think that’s that.  When they re-connect (har har) each thinks it must be “fate”.  But, Damien is fresh out of a long term relationship – his ex wanted marriage or nothing and got nothing.  Damien thinks he can’t do marriage so he’s not offering long term. 
What worked for me:
Oh, I liked ths one.  I enjoyed the humour and the repartee between the various characters (well, mostly).  It read like a rom-com movie – my favourite kind.  I enjoyed the dialogue and I liked the characters and they took me a long way to mostly overlooking what I saw as the book’s shortcomings.  But more of that later.

I liked the dialogue between the two sisters.  Here, Kensington, happily married with loads of kids, is urging Chelsea to get with the programme and put herself out there.  

“How do you think a girl gets herself married these days?: Kensey asked. “It takes putting herself on the shop shelf to begin with.”
“I like dating”, Chelsea said. “Especially men with muscles and dark eyes and all their teeth.  I’m on the shelf.”. 
“Right.  With a big Do Not Feed The Animal sign slung around your neck.  One sideways glance at another woman, one bounced cheque, one hint he might have feet of clay and you bite the hand that fondles you.  Whereas that creature over there is so-o-o on the shelf fluorescent lights aim towards him wherever he goes.”

Chelsea doesn’t suffer fools or bimbos and her words can have a bite.  Like here when she can’t find the check ticket to get her phone back from the condescending restaurant hostess:

“I seem to have misplaced it.”
 “It will be hot pink.  Hard to miss.”
“Yet visualising it still hasn’t helped it appear.

Damien’s gorgeous, rich, a member of Melbourne’s elite.  And he’s smooth with the lines too.  It takes a little while for him to understand it’s not his phone in his pocket and there are a couple of confusing phone calls.  Later, when he’s trying to convince Chelsea to meet up with him to swap their phones, he says:

“And when you get back to Chic [magazine] to explain why I was not you, if they mention anything about my predilection for zebra print underwear they’re making the whole thing up.” 
Chelsea leaned back in her chair and began to play with her hair. “I’m not sure Chic are in the habit of spreading rumours like that about random guys.”
“It’s a scandal.  Best kept under wraps for all our sakes.”

And later, when he’s playing catch up after she’s suspicious of the smooth and she asks him why he called, really, he says:

“Because you’re the girl who fell into my arms, and spilled my coffee and stole my phone and gatecrashed my thoughts until I had to admit to her that I’ve been seriously thinking that a two minute phone swap isn’t what we ought to be doing tonight.”.

It’s a sexy little story too

And the idea of you in a wet T shirt almost short-circuited my brain right now”.
At his words, she actually felt her uncooperative breasts straining against the cotton of her long-sleeved T shirt.  “I have no boobs.  Wetting them is not exciting.”  
“It’s exciting to me.

See what I mean with the smooth?
I liked the references to Melbourne.  I am an Adelaide girl but I’ve been there and it seemed familiar to me without being so “Australian” as to alienate an overseas reader or indeed, me.  I liked the Australianisms in the story – they were real and not cringeworthy – eg “a stone’s throw away” and that it’s a “mobile phone” in Australia, not a “cell phone”.  There were no dingoes or kangaroos in the main street (hooray). It felt true, while at the same time, it could have been set in any reasonable-sized city.
There was the opportunity for a “Big Mis” late in the story and I’m glad Ms. Blake chose to have the characters step up and actually talk to each other.
What didn’t (work for me):
I said that mostly I liked the dialogue between the characters.  But there were a few exceptions.  Damien’s best mate is Caleb.  At one point in the story he is warning Damien away from Chelsea and says “Everything I say I say out of love.”.  Erm, no.  I don’t think that’s something an Aussie hetero male would say to his friend.  Maybe he’d say “I’m just looking out for you” or “I’m just watching your back” but using the “L” word?  Not so much.  Also, later in the book, Caleb is described as not the “blackguard” others thought him.  Blackguard?  In a contemporary?  Maybe a better word choice would have been man-whore.  They are small things overall but they threw me out of the story a bit.
Most of the conflict was because of Damien’s conviction that he wasn’t a marrying kind of man.  I’m not sure I really understood it.  And, he got over it real quick.  I believed at the end of the story that he was a marrying man but it was too quick – so I guess that means I didn’t totally buy the conflict.  
Which brings me to.
The romance was quick.  I mean really quick. It happened over the course of about a week.  Even though it’s an HP, a week?  I could certainly believe that they were falling in love and were working their way to a HEA but the “I love you” and “let’s move in together” in only a week? When the hero starts off the week thinking he’s not the type to EVER get married?  I’m not sure I bought it.  I did want to though.

What else?
When I finished the book, I gave it a B+ and my notes read “fun sexy read, nicely Australian, hero to die for, some mate banter seemed unrealistic and ? blackguard.  Would have liked time frame to be longer than a week.  I will read more from this author.” 

Thinking about it later, the whole time frame/hero conflict thing bothered me more and I wondered if I should change the grade.  In the end I decided not to.  When I was reading the book I was enjoying it so much that the time frame and the hero’s conflict weren’t a huge deal – both things took on more significance to me after I was finished and thought about it some more.  Overall, I think the grade should be about my enjoyment of the story and I should stick with my first thoughts.  And, I will definitely read more from this local (and really, very good) author.
Grade B+

4 comments on “HP: The Magnate’s Indecent Proposal by Ally Blake

  1. Kristie (J)

    I've never tried a Harlequin Presents book before. I'll be honest and say the titles are the main reason, shallow I know. But your review of this one has made me change my mind I do believe *g*

  2. Kaetrin

    Thx Kristie J! TBH, I think this is not at all a typical HP story (at least, not as I understand from review sites like DA – who love them but are not blind to their faults) – the "magnate" aspect is very much played down and our hero's not an "alphole" who gets brought down a peg or two by the end. Also, the heroine is not a virgin, is a successful businesswoman in her own right (albeit not on the same level as Damien) and she's not a doormat.

  3. bookthingo

    I'll have to look this one up. I love the excerpts you posted. My library doesn't have it listed, which is a bit of a bummer.

  4. Kaetrin

    Do you have an ereader Kat? I picked the book up at the Harlequin ebook store for about AUD$4.00.

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