Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Marlow Family, #1
Hero: Hugh Walton
Heroine: Julia Fry
Date of Publication: August 1985
Started On: December 26, 2018
Finished On: December 27, 2018
Love in the Valley by Susan Napier, published in 1985 is a novel I picked up after encountering a list of lackluster reads and wanting something that would overtake all my emotions. Susan Napier is one of my favorite Harlequin authors that I love to read. Some of her titles have been absolutely riveting, while others have been tedious in a way that only authors who want to project “strong” heroines can make a book tiresome.
Love in the Valley is a book that fits neither category I suppose. It is a book that stands out in some ways and had me wishing that the author had explored the possibilities in her characters, especially the hero who was crafted so well in so many aspects.
Qualified Cordon Bleu chef Julia Fry meets top New Zealand lawyer Hugh Walton when she takes on the job of being the personal chef for the Marlows at their holiday home on the Coromandel Peninsula. Having never met Hugh before, Julia is stunned by the emotions that he invokes in her from the very first encounter itself, whereby she understands that when it comes to their temperaments, they are both different from each other as night and day.
Julia and Hugh’s “relationship” develops through a lot of mishaps that follows their encounters, with Hugh bringing the classic deflection tactic into play that serves as the much needed angst in the story. While Hugh turns out to be cold, distant, aloof, and controlled in the way he carries himself, the passion that I knew lurked beneath the surface remained untapped. But that aspect of his character remained largely unexplored. Of course, there was humor in the story, the kind of snarky-natured humor that Susan Napier is famous for in her stories.
Julia turned out to be an okay heroine for me. I didn’t hate nor did I love her. I guess partly because her character also seemed to lose focus along the way, to regain it towards the latter part of the story. Given Hugh’s past, I understood his nature, why he keeps to himself, and why he in most likelihood would never have gone after Julia in the end. But had the author taken on development of Hugh’s character differently, tapped into the deep hidden reservoir of passion in him, I bet this could have ended up being the kind of story that romance lovers like myself would have adored over and over.
Recommended for those who love Harlequin romances.
Final Verdict: Love in the Valley though enjoyable, is a story that had so much untapped potential.
Julia put her hands on his shoulders, feeling the shifting strength, the smooth, slick wetness of curving muscle. His lips and teeth and tongue were excitingly active, tugging gently at the soft inner skin of her mouth, exciting her taste-buds, drawing her own small tongue into the depths of his dark mouth with gentle sucking motions that were incredibly erotic. All sensation was centred on her face, but she was gradually becoming aware of his hand splayed on her spine, the hard stomach pressing against the ridge of her hip.
‘What are you going to do?’ she asked breathlessly, with conscious challenge, knowing already what he was going to do, and wanting him to do it.
‘Something I shouldn’t,’ he muttered, lowering her against his mouth, sending sparkling streaks of exhilaration through her body as his limber tongue invaded her mouth, punishing with pleasure. He held her easily, as if she weighed nothing, as he kissed her, tilting and turning her small body with his hands so that he could explore her mouth from different angles. Julia’s hands left the rigid tendons of his wrists and clutched at the solid warmth of his neck as she felt him move, carrying her backwards, hard thighs bumping between her dangling legs.
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