Shelves: doormat-heroine , blackmail , manwhore-gets-the-virgin , marriage-of-convenience , martyr-heroine , mary-sue , ow-om-drama , hero-is-a-big-fat-jerk , harlequin-romance , vintage-romance This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This will thrill fans of vintage, angsty HPs where the so-called hero is an asshat of Herculean proportions and puts the heroine through the ringer before their HEA. I myself am not averse to anti-heroes by any means but when they are paired up with spineless jellyfish heroines, I find the experience more barftastic than satisfying. Here, our ruthless, manwhoring, blackmailer of virgins is aghast that his bride is less than enthusiastic about consummating their essentially business marriage This will thrill fans of vintage, angsty HPs where the so-called hero is an asshat of Herculean proportions and puts the heroine through the ringer before their HEA. Here, our ruthless, manwhoring, blackmailer of virgins is aghast that his bride is less than enthusiastic about consummating their essentially business marriage contract when he has made it clear that he only put a ring on it because he wants to amuse himself for a couple of months before tiring of her.
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ISBN 0 2 CHAPTER ONE Melanie Ryan sat curled up on the window seat, the tray of tea untouched and forgotten on the low table beside her as she stared dismally through the rain-spattered window at the water gushing from the gutter to wind its way across the lawn towards the lower part of the garden where the cannas flowered for the last time before the winter. Between Sister Wilson and herself, they had supported Granny Bridget at the graveside, sheltering her from the rain with their umbrellas, but the strain of it all had been too much for the frail old lady, and Dr Forbes had had to be called in when they arrived back at Greystone Manor an hour later.
Melanie sighed wearily, pushing her fingers through the long strands of silky, corn-coloured hair that waved naturally about her delicate features and curled softly on to her shoulders. These events, following so close to one another, had been a blow to both Melanie and her grandmother, but, to Granny Bridget, the sudden death of the son she had always idolised had been the last straw, and she now lay in her room upstairs in a state of induced sleep to ward off the effects of shock. The future looked bleak, Melanie decided, but after a lengthy discussion with the lawyer, it was almost a miracle to discover that they still had Greystone Manor.
She had her job at the textile manufacturers, and between Granny Bridget and herself they would manage to retain Greystone Manor, the home they both loved so dearly. Greystone Manor was a rambling old house which stood on several acres of ground against a slight rise on the outskirts of Johannesburg. The grounds sloped down towards the gates, and the indigenous shrubs and trees provided the privacy they had always insisted upon in the past.
A knock at the door brought her out of her reverie and Flora, her white apron starched and spotless, announced a Mr Jason Kerr. Melanie stared up into the sympathetic, dark-skinned face of their faithful servant, and frowned.
Jason Kerr. The name sounded vaguely familiar, but that was all and, nodding briefly, she indicated that he should be shown in. Rising to her feet and straightening the pleated skirt of her deep blue woollen dress, she was unaware of how well the colour matched her large, heavily lashed eyes; eyes that mirrored instant recognition when her visitor stepped into the living-room and closed the door firmly behind him.
She had glimpsed him briefly at the funeral that morning, and had been left with the puzzling impression that he had looked right through her with such intensity that, for a few seconds, she had felt strangely breathless.
Now, face to face with him in the large living-room with its old teak furniture, she had the oddest sensation that the air was being drained systematically from her lungs. Tall, with broad, powerful shoulders, Jason Kerr advanced towards her with purposeful strides until he seemed to tower over her in the most imposing and frightening manner. His hair was dark, almost black, and his hawk-like features could very easily have been chiselled out of granite, she decided, but it was the piercing quality of his steel-grey eyes, however, that unnerved her the most.
They swept down the length of her slender figure in a dissectory manner, stripping her of her confidence, and making her feel like an ill-at-ease teenager instead of the self-assured twenty-three-year-old woman she was.
Taking a firm grip on herself, she gestured towards the chair behind him. Here was a man who knew what he wanted, and would leave no stone unturned until he had succeeded in getting the object of his desire, she realised suddenly, and the thought sent an inexplicable tremor along her nerves. He was there unwillingly, and the reason for this she still had to discover as she voiced the question that hovered menacingly in the air between them. Jason Kerr sat perfectly still in his chair, watching her through narrowed eyes, but Melanie sensed the pent-up energy in that large, muscular body, as if every muscle was geared for action; waiting, like a predatory animal, for its prey to make the first move.
A shudder shook - through her slight frame, making her clutch wildly at the arms of her chair once more and, as if accepting this as a signal, Jason Kerr moved as well, removing a large envelope from the inner pocket of his superbly tailored jacket and extending it towards her. Her father had offered Greystone Manor as security for the sizeable loan he was accepting from Jason Kerr.
All the necessary papers were there, duly signed and witnessed to the effect that, if something should happen to Hubert Ryan before the loan was repaid, Greystone Manor was to be sold and, from the proceeds of this sale, the said amount should be paid over to Jason Kerr, and the remainder to Bridget Ryan and Melanie, which would enable them to purchase a smaller, more comfortable home. White to the lips, with the delicate network of veins clearly visible at her temples, she extended the envelope with its unacceptable contents towards the man seated opposite her, but her hand shook so much that it almost fell from her fingers before he took possession of it and returned it to his jacket pocket.
Sell our home in order to collect the money owing to you? His self-assured manner triggered off her anger. How dared he sit there looking so cool and disinterested while Granny Bridget and herself were faced with losing the home they loved and cherished?
Please, Mr Kerr…give me time to think this out. I might… just manage to get the money elsewhere. It she had not been so tired and distraught with grief, she might have recalled that there had been enough in the newspapers over the past three years about Jason Kerr to excite the dullest imagination. Wealthy managing director of the Cyma Engineering company, and In his late thirties, he was considered by some as a connoisseur of women, and by others as a man with a razor-sharp brain who never failed to seize an opportunity when he saw one.
Influential, and often ruthless, he was a man who commanded respect and, occasionally, fear. That was what Melanie experienced at that moment. Sister Wilson, slender for her forty years, rose from the chair beside the old-fashioned bed with its heavy drapes as Melanie quietly entered the darkened room.
If only she could find a similar relief, Melanie thought with a twinge of envy. Relief from her own grief, and this new threat that hung over their heads. She had a week; a week in which to find thirty-five thousand rand and, somewhere among all these papers, she hoped to find something with which she could accomplish the seemingly impossible. So far she had come up with nothing of importance, but there were still several drawers and cupboards to go through before she would admit defeat.
She sat down to a solitary meal in the dining-room, but her plate was eventually returned, practically untouched, to the kitchen, with Flora muttering something in Zulu to the effect that Melanie would soon be nothing more than a shadow if someone did not do something about it. Helping herself to another cup of coffee, Melanie returned to the study and sat staring broodingly at the sheaf of papers before her while she sipped her coffee.
Would he carry out the agreement signed by her father without the slightest compunction?