Reading Down Under

Princes of the Outback by Bronwyn Jameson

Depressingly, it was the book that I found the least interesting that has taken me by far the longest to read, completely throwing off my “one review and month” schedule. As a child I was always determined to finish books, not letting them defeat me by being difficult and this helped me a great deal throughout my university course. Princes of the Outback was my first Mills and Boon and, most assuredly, the only one as well. Mills and Boon is a company that churns out romance novels (Harlequin romances in Australia are identical) for a hungry market. I had never been near them before, as they are somewhat infamous for being trashy and poorly written but when I saw a collection of three and all of which set in Australia I thought it would be an enjoyable, light-hearted read. That is not what I got at all.

The three novels are actually intertwined, all three revolving around three rich handsome brothers who are out for wives and children as their recently deceased father handily put a clause in his will demanding as such within a year or they don’t get their inheritance. This is a flimsy basis for a plot even on best of days and Jameson seems to understand that, with the three young men attempting the three month deadline for conception for their mothers sake and, in one case, a personal desire for a family. The story itself is flawed and weak, made worse by the fact that the three brothers are such stereotypes that I cannot suspend disbelief for a moment. Thomas is the dark, brooding loner who lost a wife and wants to only be left alone. Rafe is the playboy, which seems to be the length and breadth of his character, and Alex is the obsessive business man who leaves nothing to chance and always gets what he wants.
Now, romance novels are always based on one core idea: that women can fix or be fixed by men. This goes even further in these three books because all the brothers are cured of their impressive flaws through sex. There is a lot of graphically described sex in these stories and in such over zealous terms that you suddenly realise that this was the whole point. The story is there, clumsily attached like the stories in video pornography, but really it was down to the sordid descriptions of the acts. This was a great disappointment for me as no one who loves stories wants to see one take a back seat for anything. But Thomas is cure of his loneliness, Rafe stops being a playboy and Alex learns to be happy. Rafe’s story was the one I found to be the most enjoyable because Rafe and his wife meet in bizarre circumstances and seem to have a fine time making things stranger and stranger for each other. They are also the only couple who seem to get along outside of the bedroom for any length of time. It’s so strange that these stories are romance yet I feel the actual love and romance is so fake and unbelievable that I don’t want to keep reading.
The Australian background is almost forgotten at times, though by the end is does start to feel more natural as characters talk about outback cabins, trips to Sydney and Melbourne and other such things but it’s all in the background. The steamy scenes are all that the writer really cares about and, if that’s what you’re after then you most certainly wont be disappointed.
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