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TBR Challenge: The Ultimate Betrayal by Michelle Reid

Sensuality rating: lightly steamy

Since I couldn’t start reading until Tuesday afternoon,  my pick for this month’s TBR challenge was deliberately as short as possible. It does fit the theme of a “hyped book” though, since I’ve heard it mentioned many times as someone’s favorite Harlequin or as a really different Harlequin.

It is indeed different in many ways, especially for the Presents line. The couple are already married and have three children — we don’t usually see so much domesticity in HPs, especially without any servants involved.  And the issue is a fairly common domestic one: Rachel has been busy with being a mother and less available; Daniel has been working late a lot and under a great deal of pressure. A nasty phone call from a so-called friend tips Rachel off that that’s not the only thing Daniel has been under.

Reid does a good job of making this the sort of angsty read Presents lovers adore, within that unusual framework.  The effect the news has on Rachel and the marriage is painful and believable. There’s a lot of fighting and bitterness. (And one very unusual aspect in a romance — although Rachel and Daniel continue to have sex, Rachel keeps freezing and being unable to have an orgasm.)  Rachel starts to believe that she’s too dependent and boring, and tries to explore some of the things she was interested in before she got pregnant and married at 17. And she tries a new look and flirts with another man.  In a different sort of book, that might all go somewhere and it’s rather disappointing that the story ends with Rachel and Daniel both content for her to continue as the Happy Homemaker without any outside interests.

I have mixed feelings about the way infidelity was handled in the story:

*SPOILERS* (more…)