Harlequin Presents #984
The Unusual Plot
Emma Darcy‘s Don’t Ask Me Now is such an unusual Harlequin Presents. I had seen this love-triangle plot done similarly in the Temptation line, which was more sexually explicit, but to see it in HP was a bit surprising.
What’s the big deal? Well, this book features two heroes that the heroine sleeps with, although it’s not as tawdry as I’m making it out.
Many years ago, the heroine, Cathy, had a torrid love affair with Anthony Pryor-Jones of the Pryor-Joneses, part of Australia’s creme-de-la-creme. His family disapproved of her as he came from a wealthy heritage while Cathy was a nobody. Hero #1 was obsessed with her, and they had fantastic sex. But Cathy finally broke free of that toxic relationship and relocated to Sydney.
Years have passed, and Cathy’s made a new life for herself. She’s got a great friend and business partner, Tom. Tom, Hero #2, has always wanted Cathy, but he’s been friend-zoned for some time. Finally, when he thinks he’s breaking through her icy reserve, they bump into Anthony at a ball.
Cathy sees him, and her feelings come rushing back. And Anthony wants her again, too.
Tom isn’t just going to stand by and let it happen. He demands Cathy see him as he really is: a man, a desirable one, who genuinely cares for her. But Tom’s not willing to play second fiddle to her ardent feelings for Anthony. Even if he knows Cathy loves him, he’s unwilling to be next-best in bed, as he’s quite jealous of the passionate relationship she shared with Anthony.
“Don’t ask me now, Tom,” Cathy says to him, as she can’t decide what her heart wants. But she must.
Who Gets the Girl in This Love-Triangle?
I’m happy to say that it’s the nice guy who wins out in the end. Hero #1 turns out to be no hero at all. Tom and Cathy get invited to a weekend party at the Pryor-Jones estate. As Anthony sees that Tom and Cathy are drawing closer and Cathy won’t give in to him again, he tries to make Cathy jealous by having sex with a young girl in a car (what a stud!). Then he cruelly and abruptly abandons her when he sees Cathy fleeing his family’s party.
Cathy realizes it’s Tom she wants, needs, and, most importantly, desires. They have a great scene where they make love and break the bed (this occurs at the party at Anthony’s parents’ house, so they’ll all see the results of Tom and Cathy’s wildly erotic night).
Final Analysis of Don’t Ask Me Now
What a unique Harlequin Presents is Don’t Ask Me Now! It was written with just the right touch to keep you guessing who’s the right man in this love triangle and then making you root for that right man to get the girl. I don’t even want to imagine how this kind of plot would be addressed in a modern HP/ Mills and Boon. But, if it has, I don’t want to know.
Emma Darcy did this perfectly. Although there are many of her books I enjoy, like Fantasy, this book is really special. It’s one of my most beloved Harlequin Presents, if not top ten, then top 20 for sure.