The Tycoon’s Pregnant Mistress, by Maya Banks
The first in Ms Banks’ The Anetakis Tycoons trilogy, this is also her debut title with Silhouette Desire. Having read some erotic romance by Ms Banks before, I was very keen in reading her category work and seeing how her voice adapted—or transformed, if you will—to the constraints of category lines. I am very happy I had the opportunity to read this novel, as I enjoyed Ms Banks’ writing even though some of my less favorite plot devices made an appearance.
Here’s the much hated back cover blurb:
He had an heir!
Greek hotel magnate Chrysander Anetakis’ former mistress was pregnant? And had amnesia? That meant Marley Jameson didn’t remember betraying him by selling company secrets. Or that he’d thrown her out of his life. So he told her a little white lie: they were engaged. Then he swept her away to his Greek island to await the birth of his baby and enjoy her sudden devotion… before tossing her out.
But he didn’t count on Marley regaining her memory so soon.
The Anetakis Tycoons: Three Greek tycoon brothers bound for love… only as a last resort!
Did I mention that I hate the blurb? I do. The novel is soooo much better than that! Seriously, I wish someone would make the marketing people read the novels they are writing blurbs for! /rant
But, where was I? Ah, discussing the novel itself, yes.
The novel starts with Marley learning that she’s pregnant and wondering how to break the news to her lover. Even though she shares an apartment with him, she doesn’t know quite where she stands with him or what place she occupies in his life, and plans to find out before springing the baby news on him. At about the same time, she is set up (rather obviously by an also rather obvious villain) as the person who has sold two of Chrysander’s hotel designs and plans to the competition.
After a rather ugly scene—which left me wondering what on earth Marley could have been thinking when she quit her job to get involved with that jerk—she leaves the building… only to be abducted immediately after.
A few months later, both reader and Chrysander learn about Marley’s abduction, and about the fact that the trauma seems to have caused her amnesia, erasing from her consciousness everything but her name. Everything up to and including the fact that she’s pregnant with Chrysander’s child.
He, however, connects the dots at once, deciding on the spot to take charge of both Marley and his baby. The most expedient means is to lie, and so he does. (And I’m back to, what on earth did she see in him?)
From beginning to end, Marley was a curious yet believable mix of too trusting and worldly, helplessness and determination. She realizes that she’s dependent on Chrysander not only in the material sense, but also for information on herself. This, coupled with the fact that Marley now believes in their engagement—built upon a supposedly loving relationship—make her decide to reconnect with him.
Theoretically, doing so would hasten her recovery of her memory and reassure Chrysander about the future of their family.
For his part, Chrysander spent a good chunk of the novel feeling thoroughly ambivalent about his own feelings; torn between resentment for the supposed theft and betrayal it implies, and a deep concern for Marley’s wellbeing that is out of proportion with a healthy, simple pregnancy—even if her mental health is a concern.
His own ambivalence and her trust combine to force Chrysander to re-examine his feelings for her and to question whether he can forgive her previous actions and grow to trust her again.
Hopefully without spoiling anything, I can say that the final confrontation with the villain of the piece was more than a bit disappointing; mostly because there was a tad too much telling vs showing, but also because that person’s behaviour during that scene doesn’t jibe with previous characterization. Smart, sorta smart, really smart…dumb? Eh, not really believable.
So, between the amnesia plot device, the meh villain, the arrogant jerk as a hero, and the what-on-earth-was-she-thinking? heroine, one would think this novel tanked for me, right?
Here is the power of Ms Banks’ writing: even though I couldn’t understand Marley giving up her independence to move in with—and live off of—Chrysander without actually knowing what, if anything, he felt for her; and even though the reason for her amnesia left me scratching my head once it was revealed; despite all that, I rooted for her. I cared for her. I wanted her to find happiness.
And by novel’s end, I wanted her to find that happiness with Chrysander.
The Tycoon’s Pregnant Mistress gets 7 out of 10 and I am waiting to read the next two installments.