Bond of Hatred by Lynne Graham
At 16 I looooved reading books from my mother’s Harmony & Harlequin collection.
Those books gave me access to romance novels beyond the classics like Jane Austen’s and Charlotte Bronte’s books.
Taste changes and now I have a much lower tolerance for the “sexist egotistical billionaires meets innocent virgin” kind of novel that often recurs in both Harmony and Harlequin romance.
Not all of them are the same though and good writing can do wonders.
In “Bond of Hatred by Lynne Graham” I enjoyed the writing and the first 60% of the story but I ended up very disappointed with the rest.
Plot and Personal Thoughts:
Alex, the hero, acts like an asshole toward Sarah and even if misunderstandings are the main cause, he’s too domineering and a bit delusional on his own.
He’s a possesive egomaniac always in control of the situation that fully embodies the “greek billionaire” stereotype.
Sarah shakes things up for him and that’s why his attraction to her begins.
She tilted her chin. ‘Get lost.’
‘If you were not a woman…’ he launched at her with raw, splintering aggression. He was white beneath his bronzed skin, his classic bone-structure starkly prominent. He was rigid with fury and frustration.
‘You’d be dead,’ Sarah murmured shakily. ‘If I were a man, I’d have killed you for what you did to Callie in your fancy big office five months ago!’
Sarah , the heroine, knows how to put him in place.
She is hardworking and independent.
Unfortunately she’s very insecure about her physical appearance and also an innocent virgin, of course.
She had to grow up fast after her parents’ death and, at barely 17, she had an 11 years old sister to take care of.
At 24 her world crushes down again when she loses her beloved sister too and she’s left responsible for her infant nephew Nicky’s future.
Misunderstandings and a proposition (Sarah makes it, thinking Alex would never consider it) leads them to a marriage neither had anticipated or wanted.
Sex scenes are written in typical Harmony style so be prepared for trascendental plesure, an orgasm while being in pain because it was her first time and a completion so emotional that “there were tears in her eyes and an almost child-like sense of wonder when he shuddered above her and reached the same plateau”.
A bit OTT but it actually didn’t bother me much.
I know…odd for me
Also the scenes often start with her unwilling and him seducing her into “willingness” because:
He touched her, shaped her, caressed her and moved down her quivering length with his tormenting mouth and the kind of erotic expertise she was defenceless against.
That is one of the things that bothered me most about this book.
I hate when hero “seduces into willingness” the heroine and her brain stops working properly.
Five hours in bed with Alex had made her more than a little uncertain. She had a vague memory of him dressing before she fell asleep. Dressing in haste but not so fast that he hadn’t had time to survey with satisfaction the plundered, witless female still lying in his bed.
Sarah cringed. Alex had strolled out of his bedroom, positively re-energised by the completeness of her surrender.
I intensely disliked both MCs after the scene quoted above.
I also didn’t enjoy the involvement of Alex’s stepmother Vivien.
She firmly believes that, if a husband gets jelous and experiences how being cheated on feels, he’ll not stray again and he’ll remain faithful.
She then proceeds trying to convince Sarah of that and sticks her nose where it doesn’t belong.
I think either you believe in respect and fidelity or you don’t.
People that cheat once will probably do it again.
I enjoyed the angst and their banters, up until the 70% mark and at first I had a good feeling about this book.
Unfortunately Sarah’s behavior and thoughts turned into cringe worthy to me:
Was it any wonder that Alex was on the brink of straying?
On the brink —that meant it wasn’t too late. It wasn’t too late to prove that she could be everything he could want within marriage, was it? But to prove that point would mean ditching not only her personal insecurities but also her pride.
And she does. It’s not clear if he actually meant to cheat on her because the plot went from engaging to confusing and maddening from 70-80% to the ending.
This quote gave me one more reason to dislike both Alex and Sarah:
“I had to know how he really felt,’ Sarah explained. ‘Now I won’t ever have to feel that I deprived him of his son.”
‘Our son now,’ Alex countered possessively. ‘Andy will give Damon a son and they will both forget that he ever had another.’
In Alex’s primitive mind it’s acceptable for his brother Damon to forget he cheated on his wife Andy with Sarah’s sister and had little Nicky.
At that, Sarah says nothing.
This whole story happens because Damon cheated then lied about the circumstances to EVERYONE.
How is it acceptable to sweep everything under the rug like that?
I wanted to slap every single character involved in this story.
▪ The Billionaire stays a Neanderthal and there’s NO EVOLUTION WHATSOEVER. He actually thinks a new child will make his brother forget he already has a son. WTF?
▪ The poor innocent girl that seemed a promising heroine at first turns out appallingly worthy of that Neanderthal.
Considering this IS typical Harmony stuff and the book was published in 1995, I think overall the writing was quite good.
⭐ 2 stars ⭐ even if that last ~40% felt far from “OK” to me..
~ My Ratings ~
Writing: 3,5 /5
Plot: 2,5 /5
Hero: 1 /5 A Neanderthal Billionaire that doesn’t evolve throughout the book.
Heroine: 2,5 /5 Very promising at first, I loved their banters but then it becomes clear she’s on hero’s same stage of evolution.
Secondary Characters: 1 /5 goes to Vivien (Alex’s stepmother). I couldn’t stand her attitude towards husbands infidelity. She thinks jelousy keeps them for straying again! …yeah right -.-
2 /5 to everyone else, expecially Alex’s brother and his spineless wife.
MC’s chemistry: 3,5 /5 Explicit sexual scenes included.
Triggers: Not proper rape but hero insist on seducing heroine after she clearly states she doesn’t want him and she ends up willing because “her body can’t resist him”.
Hero photographed with other women but he assures heroine he didn’t actually sleep with them.
I only believed it reading the last page.
Recommended to: Harlequin’s and Harmony’s books readers might enjoy it (if not bothered by things that bothered me)
Usually quotes are what helps me decide if a book is right for me so…check them out, they might be helpful to you too!
~ Quotes ~
His striking bone-structure tightened, hooded dark eyes resting on her without any perceptible emotion at all. ‘Then you force me to be blunt—–‘
‘Oh, I don’t think you need forcing,’ Sarah opined, sweetly sarcastic as she raked him with unhidden derision. ‘I would say that being blunt comes very naturally to you. The challenge would be sensitivity.’
‘Do you want to know what you really deserve?’ she asked with saccharine sweetness, venom dripping from every syllable. ‘A wife who would make your life a living hell —a real bitch!’
‘like you?’ He vented a cruelly amused laugh, raking her with merciless derision.
‘I wouldn’t touch you with a barge-pole!’
‘Unfortunately when I told you that I would give you whatever you want,’ he drawled in a dark, deep voice with an unbelievably insolent smile, ‘I wasn’t including myself in the offer… When I go to bed with a woman, I have to like her. That is the barest minimum requirement.’
‘Liking isn’t required… but I will have respect.’
There was a sizzle in the atmosphere. Sarah revelled in it. ‘It’s good for a man to have a goal to work towards… even when the goal will remain eternally out of reach.’
Alex took her mouth with shuddering force and engulfed her in his hunger, his need, his demands and she went under like a novice swimmer, but she was dragged down into that sexual oblivion without fear. Her last coherent thought was that if she had died without learning what he could make her feel, she would never have lived.
Men always wanted sex. Men were just programmed that way. And just be-cause Alex was gorgeous and rich and spoilt for choice when it came to satisfying his sexual needs it didn’t mean Alex was one whit different from any of the other men who had tried to pounce on her.
No, she thought sickly, the only thing different about Alex was that he had succeeded where the others had failed.
She connected with dark golden eyes and the world started to spin and her mind went terri-fyingly blank. Worse, every quivering skin cell went shamelessly on red alert. She had worked incredibly hard at willing these things to stop happening to her, but so far she could not feel that success was within reach. It was gruesome… all her life to have rejoiced in supreme self-control and then to be presented with Armageddon in the shape of a mere male.
Why were you still a virgin?’
‘I stayed away from macho pigs like you!’
‘Maybe on some level you knew I was in your future,’ Alex drawled with unashamed conceit.
‘If I’d known,’ Sarah practically shrieked at him, ‘I’d have come into your office with a shotgun!’
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