Captive in the Spotlight: Blackmailed Bride, Innocent Wife (Harlequin Presents) - Annie West
This is just on Captive in the Spotlight. I'll rate and review Blackmailed Bride, Innocent Wife separately.I really enjoyed the hell out of reading this. I don't typically read Harlequin Presents. They usually seem like a contemporary update of the eighties books. I hate the severe power imbalances; the borderline abusive, controlling, sexist, manipulative, dreadful Heroes; the virgin Heroine/powerful experienced Hero (don't get me wrong, I love virgin characters a lot, but it seems overly fetishistic in these books); the many stories that sound suspiciously rapey; and other obnoxious tropes. But sometimes when I find a deal I can't resist (this was a two in one!). I don't think I've liked any of the Presents I've read before so it's great I finally found one that doesn't irritate the crap out of me and, instead, had me glued to the pages.It's definitely a different setup than I've read in a romance before. The Heroine, Lucy Knight, has spent the last five years in jail for killing the Hero's, Domenico Volpe's, brother. He wants nothing to do with her, but this is also a huge news story and he wants his family out of the spotlight so he offers Lucy refuge from the paparazzi until everything dies down.I felt like the story struck a good balance when it came to the power imbalance and virgin tropes. Dominico was controlling and overbearing but not to a significant degree. I didn't really feel like I wanted to junk punch him. Lucy was a great, strong Heroine, but of course she'd have to be having been thrown in jail at 18 and losing everything. I love that she didn't bow to Dominico's demands and manipulation. She maintained her innocence and made him hear her. And his starting to trust and believe her wasn't led by his libido but by actually getting to know her. I was really invested in the characters and the story. It was hard for me to stop reading I was so interested in seeing where the whole thing went.I only had three rather minor-ish issues. I wish this was written for the Intrigue or Romantic Suspense lines because I would have loved to have had a lot more on what really happened five years ago and getting proof and maybe even a showdown than focusing more on their "oh, this is wrong!" attraction. Which makes sense under Presents, but I think there was the potential for an even more interesting story in there. West did a lot of that alluding to something, drawing it out, and revealing it later thing. Which drives me nuts unless it's done really well, and it rarely is in my opinion. I don't see what's gained by keeping the audience in the dark. Just tell me already and let's move on!The end was a little lackluster. I enjoyed the rest of the book so much and it was such a different story for me, the very typical, predictable ending fell a little flat. Other than that I really don't think you can go wrong with this one.My review of Blackmailed Bride, Innocent Wife. 1 Star (but really a big fat zero).