Black Widow Bride

  The Untamed Sheik

Millionaire Under the Mistletoe
by Tessa Radley
(Silh. Desire #1985, $4.75, PG-13) ISBN 978-0373-76985-8
I really struggle with plots that include lust that turns to love for a person who the character hates, detests, mistrusts and thinks is the scum of the earth. I mean, seriously, how does that lead to love?  Or when the hero feels sorry for the heroine and is partly motivated by pity, but is filled with lust, how can that turn into love? In Millionaire Under the Mistletoe we have both scenarios, making it hard to like the characters and to believe in the story.

Years ago, Miranda Owen’s father was accused of embezzlement and was arrested following a public announcement by the new finance officer of Ironstone Insurance, newly promoted and very young Callum Ironstone. Before the trial, Miranda’s father wrote to her, her mother and her brother Adrian a letter saying he was sorry and he was innocent. Then he killed himself. Luckily for them, Miranda soon discovered that the insurance policy would still pay out a settlement and that is what they lived on. Miranda’s mother is a frail woman and doesn’t work. The money provided the opportunity for Miranda to go to culinary school and she is now ready to set out on her own. She vowed she would get back at the Ironstones and in particular, Callum.

For Callum’s part, he had evidence including a written confession from Miranda’s father and never doubted he had the right man. What he regrets is the manner in which he proceeded. He was young and trying to make a statement to show his father and three older brothers he was ready for a spot on the executive team. He realizes now he could have been less high-handed and been just as effective. Callum also tried to assuage his guilt by ensuring that Miranda’s family had money. He has been paying out an allowance for years, has paid for Miranda’s schooling and is currently providing Adrian with a job and a chance at a scholarship so he can attend school.  Miranda does not know any of this.

The scene is set when Callum decides to offer Miranda a catering job at his house in order to help her gain contacts so she can begin her own catering business. She is currently working as an under chef at a local restaurant and hates the politics and the head chef.  Her dream is to find a man to marry and to have her own business. As one might imagine with their history, the first meeting is filled with accusations and anger. But wait - that sly devil, lust, pops his head in and two sane people start thinking with their anatomy. Of course Miranda accepts the gig. Callum keeps fantasizing that she is wearing nothing but a sexy apron. One think leads to another and they spend the night of the party together. Then Miranda hates him in the morning and Callum is determined to get her back into bed. He is so determined he doesn’t propose to a woman he had been arranging to marry for convenience. He doesn’t feel it is fair to ask her to marry him when Miranda is filling his head. That’s about his only decent action.

Of course, all the secrets have to come out, making Miranda hate Callum more and lust for him more. She wakes up one day and realizes that he is a really decent guy and she must now love him. Callum, who abhors emotion and for some unknown reason doesn’t believe in love, finds that he too is in love. But they can’t tell each other due to the other’s obvious feelings…  I just could not buy the transformation and really, didn’t care. 

I normally like Tessa Radley’s stories, but for me, she missed the mark in Millionaire Under the Mistletoe

--Shirley Lyons 

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