Review of THE TUSCAN TYCOON'S WIFE by Lucy Gordon (see her website)
THE COUNTS OF CALVANI
Harlequin Romance #3760, August 2003
Selena Gates just wants to make it to the next rodeo, the next chance for a payday that will keep her, her aging trailer, and her aging barrel pony on the road for another chance. When her friend suggests she marry a millionaire, Selena laughs. A miracle would be easier--millionaires don't go for women without curves. Selena's hopes seem shattered when she runs into a car--and meets handsome Leo Calvani--the Italian farmer who just happens to be a super-rich aristocrat. Leo keeps his personal history a secret when he discovers that Selena has strong class prejudices. She distrusts the rich and is absolutely fearful of the titled aristocracy.
The two find the attraction overwhelming and Selena, after a series of rodeo successes made possible by Leo's secret financing of a new trailer and a new horse, visits him in Italy. She is shocked to discover that he is rich--and hobnobs with the titled of Italy. Still, he is a farmer at heart and she consoles herself with that when he asks her to marry him. But when she learns that he is to be the heir to the Venetian palace and the title of Count, she draws the line.
Author Lucy Gordon tells a Cinderella tale with a twist--this Cinderella doesn't want a prince. She wants a horse. Failing a horse, a farmer would do. Gordon's strong writing sustains reader interest despite her limited explanation of exactly what made these two people right for each other. American readers are likely to find Selena unconvincing as a fellow American. Her diction is ever-so-British (no American would ever wear a bathing costume), and her anti-aristocratic reverse snobbery is unknown in the states (we don't have enough contact with the aristocrats to have any negative feelings about them). Even lacking this, Selena is annoying with her willingness to assume that everyone thinks the worst about her, and to blame others for her problems (she was the one who ran into Leo's car but she failed to take responsibility for following too closely).
It's a challenge to combine an independent heroine with a care-giving and wealthy hero. Gordon makes a valiant attempt and THE TUSCAN TYCOON'S WIFE makes for a mostly enjoyable read.
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