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Graphic Designer, painter, dreamer, fashion addict, unhealthy obsession with shoes and jewelry. Film lover and oh yes....books! :D
Heartless - Diana Palmer **I'm giving you fair warning, this review will be filled with snark and quotes I pulled from the book. I have to find some entertainment where I can when it comes to this book. It's all in good fun too! Sorry for the ramblings in advance.**

Finally finished this! It says so much when you let out a sigh of relief when you get to the last page of a book. :/I'm sorry Diana Palmer but you and I are going our separate ways. I tried very much but this did not work for me for several reasons. Same grievances I had in [b:Night Fever|566133|Night Fever|Diana Palmer|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1175854797s/566133.jpg|1154735] I had here, but here the problems were much more obvious and less forgiving. The set up of this story had the potential of being one ball of romantic angsty goodness but it just completely collapsed on itself not even half way in. The characters seemed to have the emotional maturity level and depth of 15 year old teenagers. Very one-dimensionial characters and painfully underdeveloped writing.

Gracie, sweet kind-hearted incredibly naïve overly-sensitive Gracie. She’s had a wide-eyed crush and been in love with her step brother Jason for years since her mother married his father. Jason pretty much looked after her and saw to her every need since she was 14 and moved in with his family. Buying her extravagant gifts and letting her live in his mansion. She seems to carry the world on her shoulders (in her head), she's such a dear who just takes everything to heart with quivering chins and maidenly gasps and blushes thrown in there. She was too fragile and sensitive for my tastes. And her doe-eyed fear/awe/hero-worship of Jason and eagerness to please him just made me...uncomfortable.
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I love shy less experienced awkward heroines, but here it was too much and weird rather than charming. Her overly-dramatic martyr the ‘sky is falling’ personality just grates the nerves. And the author trying to show her finding strength and sass just came off more comical than anything because it was so extreme and out of character.

I don't know, I loved the idea of stepbrother and stepsister fighting their growing attraction to each other. And before anyone gives me the side eye for that, there is no blood relation and they didn’t know each other their entire life so I didn’t mind it. I'm not a perv! Honest. I just really like angsty situations and tormented characters. My fault I thought I was gonna get tortured angsty conflicted couple instead I got Marsha and Greg from the Brady bunch.
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As for the hero Jason, he did absolutely nothing for me. In the first few chapters he came off like a chatter box who would tease and joke around then morphed into a glowering angry jerk who liked to storm off in rages through the rest of the book. RME. Spare me. And his ‘payback’ ploy after Gracie rejected him is a stunt a 17 yr old hot headed boy would do instead of a 35 year old man. It was so ridiculous and juvenile. And his passive aggressive ‘what happens, happens’ attitude after magically getting a fiance just didn’t make a lick of sense. How far up your own ass do you have to be to see how stupid & careless you are acting towards the people you love? When Gracie runs off after their awkward hot misunderstood kiss in the rain, Jason is hurt and humiliated. His pride is hurt so what does he do? He gets drunk and ends up in bed with a vapid venomous cartoonish she-devil model named Kittie, who sinks her claws into him the minute she finds out he’s a millionaire. And he completely lets her. After waking up in bed next to her with no memory of what happened the night before, he freaks out thinking that they had unprotected sex and she may be pregnant. So he decides they should get engaged and wants to bring her home with him because hey! Why not? he’s always wanted to be a father (and he's so damn giddy over the thought of having a child with a virtual stranger WTH?) and this is the ‘best’ it’s going to get after losing Gracie. Oh and he can’t WAIT to see the look on Gracie's face when he struts in with this ‘beautiful creature’ on his arm. -__- Again, how old are you? Where is your damn brain? I’m embarrassed for you dude.
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At this point, I wanted someone to just kick him in the balls and just stuff him into a box. Complete idiotic jackhole if I may say so. And oblivious doesn’t even begin to cover how dim witted he acted to all of Kittie’s outlandish over-the-top schemes to steamroll his life and run everyone out of his own house. GMAFB. Half the time he kept moaning & brooding over not even caring about her and wanting to end the engagement, but he keeps putting the inevitable off, letting everyone in his home continue to be miserable and be run off by that little shrew. Grow a damn pair! And Kittie’s huffy ‘old people!’ rants couldn’t scream any louder that she’s the BAD GUY. I couldn't even take this character seriously because she was such a flat silly caricature. Seriously she's vindictive enough and motivated enough to snoop around the household staffs' personal lives and expose their many numerous secretes (and there are about 5 of them I lost count). Just...why? All that effort seemed so pointless to me and was trying to make her even more loathsome and antagonistic than she already is. Not necessary.

Moving on...

So central story focuses on Jason and Gracie and the big awful shameful secretes Gracie is hiding from Jason (secretes plural because Gracie's got a bagful but I only found 2). Her mother was in a abusive relationship with Gracie's father, a volcanic tempered drunk who would beat her and throw her around in and out of the bedroom. One particular episode is so extreme where her mother runs out of the bedroom with a blood soaked bodice where her husband bit her. Yes you read correctly, he bit her on the chest, so badly that her entire night gown is soaked in blood. He must have some serious chompers to do that much damage. RME. That memory is forever seared into Gracie's brain plus her mother's stern relentless warnings that all men are lustful animals who will inflict harm on women in order to gain pleasure. They are complete animals! Stay away! Gracie takes that advice to heart, literally. She's never had any kind of relationship with a man platonic or otherwise because of that and is terrified to have sex. So naturally that little heated kiss in the rain where Jason fondles her and kisses her near the boobage area freaks her the hell out and she runs off. I could understand the fear since she witnessed what her mother went through but honestly? It just seemed a very regressive & gross misconception to put in a terrified impressionable young girl's head. Well-intentioned but wrong. And it was brought home more than once how many times her mother warned her about it and made her promise to never let a man near her. I mean really? This is what you are going to teach your child? <__< Anyways, Gracie's other big secrete, is her brain affliction, the same infamous night where her father is gunned down after the fight with her mother, he throws Gracie against a wall head first. It caused her to have some minor brain damage where some of her motor skills aren't 100%, but it's just described as her 'clumsy quirks' (why wasn't she checked out by a doctor for this?). So these two things are the big shameful secretes (I still don't understand why they had to be secretes) that Gracie and her mother tried very hard to hide in fear of scandal if word ever got out about the abuse. Um.. scandal? Seriously?? Domestic abuse is a sensitive subject of course but the characters in this acted like it was a world crime to have it made public. It's shameful and just <i> dirrrrty. GMAFB. This isn't the 1800s nor Regency London, Gracie’s mother went to such extremes to cover up their ‘awful secrete’ so no one would ever find out & also so her new husband at the time (Jason's bigot father) wouldn't find out how poor they were, so she decides to pass off Gracie as her step daughter and changed her last name. Um okay.

As for the rest of the plot, just a bunch of contrived cooky set ups that included 2 kidnappings, one of Gracie and one of Jason by evil kidnappers led by a Spanish dictator or some other silly nonsense. Random much? What the hell did this have to do with the story? Oh yes and another secrete was smooshed somewhere in here too about Jason's family inheritance, his birth mother and his dead father's whoring ways. Dun dun dun! One too many wackadoodle contrived secretes if you ask me.

Speaking of Contrived things:
- "Drunk men can’t sexually perform." Really?? That’s news to me. Is this some kind of special condition that I don’t know about?
-You need a PhD or Masters degree to become a teacher, Gracie has neither. So her magically getting a teaching job (her first job ever) at a community college and giving lectures in a matter of days after declaring her ‘independence’ from Jason is nice but not so easy as one, two, three.
-A woman using her own money to pay a ransom to free her husband and pick him up from Mexico all by her little ol’self without the cops is impressive but hilarious. Ha. I wish!
-A woman who is sexually promiscuous = her having orgies. O_o

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Scandalous! How come nobody told me this?! Got it.

Just going to get right to the point with examples...

Awkward phrasing & dialogue:
"If she hadn’t run from him that rainy night, she was thinking, all the anguish in between would have been spared. The thought lay in her expression. (I didn’t know thoughts could do that, interesting. And 'she was thinking?' Thinking what??)

"His dark eyes opened into hers, soft and quiet." (I didn't know eyes could do that either)

"How do you give a rattlesnake half a chance, offer it first bite?" (whaaa?)

"No, don’t prevaricate.” (say what now?)
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“You’re such a cat Gracie.” (Um..thanks?)

“Grr…great balls of fire, is that the time?” (Gee golly wiz I don’t know!)

Summarization in present tense:
Gracie overheard her talking to someone on the phone, bragging about her sexual exploits with a variety of men. She was engaged to a man who was dynamite in bed, she told the listener, so as long as he could satisfy her, she’d stay with him. But there was a Middle-Eastern prince who also coveted her, (me: rolling my eyes so hard) and he was much richer than Jason. Relationships were such a bother, she sighed. Men only wanted sex, but when they were rich, it was no hardship for her. She could fake pleasure as long as the gifts she got in return were expensive.

This is all coming from the heroine’s POV where she remembers overhearing Kittie talking on the phone with a friend. She's summarizing the whole thing in present tense, including all the small irrelevant details. Couldn’t the author just give it in dialogue format instead of the character painfully rehashing every. single. bit of the conversation like some summarized narration? It's the author's job to narrate, not the characters in this case. And the author had the annoying habit of doing this throughout the book. It reads very strange and heavy handed and becomes incredibly long winded to read through. Don’t have the characters tell me what happened, show me!

Dated as Shit Writing:
“He let out a word that had the women in the room flushing.” Jason! Gracie exclaimed, shocked." (A word like...fuck? Oh my! How unbecoming!)
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“Besides, it’s not so scary when I think about doing it with yo…” She clamped down hard on the word." (what? Sex? SAY IT. You won’t burn in hell if you do. I promise)

"He felt the faint resistance that quickly gave way to his ardor."

"While the ruffian was manhandling her, she tried to remember the other moves Marquez taught her. If she could just get…her…hands…free!"
(Excuse me...did you say ruffian?)

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The writing in this just came off like a weird western romance stuck in a historical setting but tried really really hard to be contemporary. The dialogue, character motivations and interactions are incredibly dated. I felt like I was reading about a virginal young heroine from the 1800’s. The time frame of this story is never specified but it’s definitely contemporary but not written like one. Comments like this:“did you two quarrel?” “protect her from amorous advances" "quickly gave way to his ardor" didn't make sense and her mother’s bloody bodice (really Palmer? a bodice??), Gracie’s canopied bed & long cotton night gown with tons of lace and hand-knitted doo dads on her bed spread seemed very out of place.

And of course...THE SEX TALK! :D
“Yes! Feel me, Gracie. Feel me…going into you!”
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“She clung to him, her eyes wide-open with shocked wonder as she saw his face. It was so intimate, she thought wildly. So intimate!”
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“Kiss you so hard that your mouth would be swollen from the intensity of it!”

“Harder, Jason, harder, harder…!"

“Hold me. Feel me driving into you. Feel me…exploding…inside you!”

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And finally THE EXCLAMATIONS!!! Can't forget those:

"In a few seconds, she knew, his teeth would bite into her, and she would look like her mother had, bleeding….!"

"His arms were contracting, and his mouth was opening, as she knew it would…!"

"If Gracie died, he had no reason to stay alive. He ha nothing left. He had…!”

"Come here to me!” He pulled her down into his arms and wrapped her up tight.."

“I would love that!” she whispered huskily." -__-
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Dear Mrs. Palmer, do you know what whispering entails? How about huskily? Cause I really don’t think you do.

And cue the violins:
"Her eyes were closed. “It was a nightmare. And we were so poor, Mrs. Harcourt. Some days I couldn’t go to school because I didn’t want people to see me wearing the same clothes every single day of my life…!

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Please...stop...talking...like THIS...!

So yeah, clearly I had more fun writing this review than reading the actual book. lol The writing was a pretty big driving factor in what derailed this for me.