I did not like this book very much at all. I've read several Harlequin Presents in the past few days, and loved them, which is why I kept reading them instead of doing other things I should be doing around the house. And I'm usually a fan of Maisey Yates, but this book bothered me quite a bit.
The story begins with Zara, who is given to a king as a gift, and to his credit, he's kind of horrified by this. But then decides she'd make a great wife for his brother, Andres. His brother though was such a creep. Something of a sociopath, wanna-be rapist. I could not get past the first few scenes in the story when Andres is with Zara. He's trying to make clear that she has to do what he says and if not he's threatening to rape her. What? Yuck. As readers, we're shown his thought process and told he would never do this to a woman, but the very fact that he's threatening her in this way is upsetting. Lots of, "well, I'll show you what I mean" as he towers over her, thrusting his hips against her. As the story progresses, his behavior only gets worse. We learn he's had control issues his whole life, he was so badly behaved his mother left. He does not need a wife, he needs an extended stay in a mental health facility.
As for the story line, after he gets angry with Zara, then has sex with her against the wall during a luncheon - her first time, how romantic - he suddenly decides he can't get enough of her. She feels the same about him, which I guess is supposed to make it all okay. They grow closer, ready to get married on Christmas, then all of sudden Andres wants to make clear he doesn't love her. The way the story is told, this came out of nowhere, didn't flow with the story at all. Then there's all this about him dealing with his mother not loving him and he thinks he doesn't deserve love.
Of course they end up together in the end, everyone loving each other. That's not a spoiler, that's simply how these books always end. But none of it felt convincing. I need more than the thoughts in his head to believe any of this.
I usually really like Harlequin Presents, with their over the top, rich, powerful, ruthless men. But what makes me love these books is that the men, despite their power and often times arrogance, still fall hard when they fall in love and even if they treat everyone else horribly, they treat the women they love like the best thing that has ever happened to them. I didn't feel that with this book. In fact, I felt like Zara needed to run as far away as possible from this guy.
I received a copy of this via NetGalley.