September TBR: Judith McNaught

This month, we have to pick a new author or an author we’ve not read in a long time. Well, since I have two Judith McNaught books in my pile, and she’s almost new to me, these are my picks for September’s TBR ChallengeRemember When and Every Breath You Take.

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Let’s start with Remember When. The main thing that drew me to the book was the synopsis at the back, which reads:

Alone on a moonlit balcony at Houston’s White Orchid Charity Ball, Diana Foster courageously upheld the sparkling image of her family’s Beautiful Living magazine. Recently jilted by her fiancé for an Italian heiress – an insult delivered via a sleazy tabloid – Diana was noe very publicly unengaged, and surrounded by humiliating rumours So why was billionaire Cole Harrison closing in on her with two crystal flutes and a bottle of champagne?

The former stableboy had received an ultimatum from his uncle: Cole must bring home a wife – soon – or lose his share of a booming multinational business. Coolly analytical and arrestingly attractive, Cole knew what he wanted in a bride, and Diana Foster – rich, beautiful, and a principled – fit the role perfectly. But while a long, slow kiss sealed the bargain that solved their dilemmas, neither imagined the extraordinary journey that would begin on that unforgettable night …

Faced with such a summary which tags the book as a celebration of the transforming power of love, I couldn’t resist.  And indeed it was heartwarming, tender, and every bit as moving as a small-town romance could be. I particularly enjoyed the way Ms McNaught described Houston, Texas, rather lovingly I’d say, and how she developed the characters of the protagonists.

Cole came across as a wonderfully flawed, bullheaded hero who’s able to melt your heart with some really tender gestures and lines. Diana’s brave struggle to keep her family together and genuine kindness sort of rubbed off on me after a while. This is a great book where both hero and heroine are well fleshed out, and the power is balanced.

IMB rating: 3.5

Some parts of the plots in Every Breath You Take sounded too incredulous, and I didn’t really enjoy it as much as Remember.  The story synopsis at the back of this second book reads:

They met in paradise: Kate Donovan, the beautiful, self-made Chicago restaurateur, and Mitchell Wyatt, ruthless businessman, scion of the fabulously wealthy Wyatt family – and, as Kate soon learns, a man who won’t take no for an answer. During their idyll on the tropical island of Anguilla, Kate and Mitchell lower their defenses and surrender all inhibitions – slowly at first, and then in a rush of emotion unlike anything they’ve ever known.

But their heaven crumbles when Mitchell is summoned home for questioning in eh disappearance of his half brother. Amid a media firestorm, he retreats into his world of privilege and power, leaving Kate to question everything she knows about her darkly mysterious lover: Is he in fact the culprit in this high-profile case? What secrets lay buried in his past? What does his future hold and what are his plans for her?

As Kate struggles to trust the fascinating an who may also be her most formidable foe, the web of intrigue grows ever more complicated.

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There were bonus scenes, but having never read the original, I wouldn’t be able tell. The web of intrigue and the suspense promised in the synopsis was a little under delivered, IMO.  It was nothing like the heart pounding mystery I expected, so I felt a tad let down even though the story was well written, form story pace, character development points.

There is one big plot blunder that I couldn’t forgive. The lovers forgot to exchange phone numbers!! Hello, Bluetooth, IR beams?? And that led to a BIG-Mis, which given the contemporary setting of the story, was so incredulous, and sort of just made me roll my eyes, but read on anyway, just so to get to the end of the story. The murder suspect angle was more a subplot, which was resolved rather quickly, rather too pat IMO.  Overall though, the book is still likable enough to warrant an IMB rating of 3.0.

Now, back to my paranormal spin.