Blackmailed Bride, Inexperienced Wife (Innocent Wives) (Harlequin Presents Extra, #83) - Annie West
If I could give zero stars this would get Zero. Fucking. Stars.There's going to be a lot of cursing and spoilers. Beware.This book right here is everything I fucking hate about Presents and much more. I mostly skimmed the entire thing. Within the first few pages I hated the "hero" Dario Parisi. I wanted to commit violence unto him. Alissa Scott I didn't have as much of a problem with at the start, but at a certain point it turned and I wanted both of them to die a fiery death.Dario Parisi was a horrible, horrific, manipulative, abusive bully. He was incredibly judgmental and cruel. He wouldn't let Alissa speak, or defend herself against his accusations, taunts and cruelty. He had her "investigated" but didn't know shit about her and would still sling unjustified hate at her. And the things he thought about her were infinitely worse. His attraction to her pissed him off because he wanted a 'better class of woman'. Not a slutty druggie party girl who lived off other people's money and had the easiest of easy lives (note the sarcasm, that's what he thought but not a word of it was true — about Alissa at least).Alissa Scott was weak, pathetic, and maddeningly passive. She barely even attempted to defend herself against Dario and set him straight. Her protests against him were weak at best. She grew up with an abusive grandfather, who tried to control everything she did and was. So she stayed away from men because of him. Dario was EXACTLY like him. Yet she trailed after him. Her attraction to him made her let him treat her like utter shit. You could maybe, MAYBE make a "cycle of abuse" argument for her being so idiotic over this guy, but it wasn't presented that way, and regardless that wouldn't be a fucking romance. Period. Not that this was. Dario may not have raised a hand to her, but he was an abusive bully nonetheless. Alissa kept telling herself she stood up to his demands when in reality she didn't. Not to a single one. She didn't even put up a nominal protest at his demand she move to Sicily, thus leaving her job and life in Australia, and moving farther from her sister. She let him roll over her from the moment he barged in to destroy her original plan — marring a gay friend to fulfill the terms of her grandfather's will that she be married and live with the man for six months to inherit an estate in Sicily, then sell her share for cash to help save her sister's life. (For real, my ass would have been at a homeless shelter picking up any random dude before I capitulated to his machinations.) She never called him out on his actions and the way he spoke to and treated her. Mostly her thoughts were about how sexy he was and her attraction to him, some thoughts to her sister (who was terminally ill and needed money for experimental treatments in the US), a few to how awful he was, but mostly it was the attraction. I wanted to rip out my goddamn hair. I don't give a flying fuck how sexy a man is, he'd lose that real quickly in the face of the way he treats me. I don't care if Matt Bomer gets up in my space. I'd lose my lady boner real damn quick if he treated me even a fraction as badly as Dario treated Alissa and I'd have no problem kicking his very pretty ass. It's not cute. It's not sexy. It's not romantic. And yet West goes on and on and on about their attraction. Let me tell you, lady, I don't give a fuck. I skimmed through it before I resorted to self harm.And for the love of all that is holy, Alissa, STOP FUCKING SHIVERING. If everything makes you shiver you may need to see a doctor.I don't remember the circumstances why, but at least twice Dario assured Alissa that he has never had to nor ever would force a woman. And yet at some point he threatens to rape her. Of course it's not called that, but that is exactly what it is — plain as day. And instead of calling him on it, she feels a ~flash of desire~ and dares to hope. What in the fuck? Are you kidding me with this shit? I guess I'm supposed to be happy that this is the modern Presents where it's just a threat. In the olden days he would have just raped her. But never fear, this brings its own brand of disgusting sexual exploit.Dario ends up extorting sex out of her. You can't dress it up to make it something else. That is exactly what it was. He turned her into a whore. And she let him.Her sister was getting sicker so she again asked for an advance on the money she'd get upon inheriting the estate and selling her half (she had asked once before they married, but of course he verbally abused her and refused). Since he couldn't deal with his attraction and thought she was lying about her sister needing help he tells her he'll give her the money if she fucks him right then and there and then any time he wants it for the rest of their time together. What in the bloody fucking fuck? What the fuck kind of piece of shit psycho demands something like that? He thought at the time she wanted the money to help save her sister's farm. Like, somehow that would have made it okay, and the fact that she needed it to save her sister's life made him awful. I just . . . what in the fuck? It was written like a misunderstanding. Not about what it was, but she thought he knew about her sick sister and was still demanding this, while he's thinking she wants the money for her sister's farm. I was so disgusted that West wrote it as an actual romance sex scene. I was so fucking angry and disgusted I started tearing up. I don't remember the last time I angry-cried. Then I pushed that down and got so pissed I actually beat the book against the wall. Now I have to clean that! (Who knew book covers could do that? Crap.) I also scraped my knuckle. It hurt for days. I had a book rage injury, you guys.I've never wanted to do violence to a book more. I would have set it on fire were it not for the fact it was in the same book with another story that I actually did like. I skipped the scene. I only read a few lines and wanted to throw the fuck up so I only read enough to know when it was over. Alissa never thought the term "whore" – I was hoping at some point she'd throw that in his face. But somehow it was okay for her because there was sexual attraction between the two. The next day she worries she wanted it and used it as an excuse for having done it. The only one who thought the word "whore" was Dario later on when he was feeling guilty and berating himself. She never really held it against him the way she should have. Not to mention SHE SHOULDN'T HAVE DONE IT. (She shouldn't have married him either, but . . .) Yes, she felt up against a wall but come the fuck on now, really? And Dario, that shit fuck asshole, gets pissed when she asks about getting the money the next morning. Like because he gave her so much pleasure she would forget about what it was for. Then he thinks she's nothing but a slimy little whore who fucks for money like lowlife trash, never mind it was clear to him she was a virgin and that the money wasn't even for her. And WHAT IN THE SHIT DID HE EXPECT? He made the terms clear. He knew she was doing it for the money. How was he so fucking off that he'd think it would suddenly become romance because there was pleasure?? Aaaaaaaaargh!Near the end he told her about his past and why he was on this quest for "family honor" and that made everything okay for her, apparently. He had it rough so that excuses his heinous behavior. It never occurred to either of them that he wasn't honoring his family by becoming what he was just to get what they used to have instead of building a new legacy as a good man. Honoring them by making the name worth something decent, rather than something to be feared. He finally learned of Alissa's past and felt more like the piece of shit he is for all his assumptions and the way he treated her. He still wasn't worth anything to me in the end because there was no change in him. The truth changed his mind about Alissa, but he was still an assuming, judgmental, bullying asshole when it came to everyone else. Thank Jebus they were in "love" so he wouldn't eventually inflict himself on another woman.It wasn't actively in the book much, but I didn't like the sister dynamic at all. Alissa had endured two abusive men and a slew of other bullshit including a drug conviction and prostituting herself to protect and help Donna. All Donna did was hare off and act like an asshole necessitating these actions later on (silly "I had a crappy childhood" behavior. Her illness was brought on by her own idiocy). And in the end she gets the loving, sweet husband and nice life? While Alissa gets what? Crapped on time and time again? Screw that.The second I skimmed the last line I literally threw the book across the room. I'm not exaggerating that in the slightest.I can't believe the same author wrote this book and Captive in the Spotlight. There was nothing okay about this book. I almost wish there was a tort for book induced rage and injury now.