Category Romance: Elusive as the Unicorn by Carole Mortimer

The most exciting aspects of Adam and Eve—the main characters in Carole Mortimer’s Elusive as the Unicorn—sadly start and end with their names.

category romance
Elusive as the Unicorn by Carole Mortimer
Rating: two-half-stars
Published: 1989
Illustrator: TBD
Published by: Harlequin, Mills & Boon
Genres: Category Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 187
Format: Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader

Category Romance: Elusive as the Unicorn by Carole Mortimer


The Book

Elusive as the Unicorn by Carole Mortimer is another mediocre romance that Harlequin publishers bafflingly honored with their so-called Award of Excellence.

Why they chose this ho-hum Carole Mortimer entry when she’s written many more books that—although they might not have been the best of the best—at least had some sizzle to them, is a mystery to me. It only reinforced my belief that the editors gave this distinction to authors with long careers as a “pat on the back” for their overall body of work, not because a story was particularly riveting.

elusive as the unicorn

The Plot

Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden

The plot of this one is a little cringy. Alas, it’s not cringe-worthy for the good “bad” reasons that an HP or Mills & Boon can be. Eve Eden—yes, that’s the heroine’s name—is a British woman with a secret. She keeps it so well hidden that not even her beloved fiancé knows of it.

Adam Gardener—yup, that’s the hero’s name—is an American art businessman (yeah, I know that’s not the accurate term, but Adam’s demeanor shouts cocksure US capitalist, not fine art lover) in the UK searching for the elusive “Unicorn.” The Unicorn is a painter whose works have caused quite a stir in the art scene. But no one knows who this mysterious Unicorn is.

Have you guessed their identity already?

When Adam meets Eve, he knows they’re meant for one another—their names decree it so! He pursues her relentlessly, even if she is engaged to a dull fiancé. Eve has loved her fiancé Paul for years. Why? Beats the heck out of me. Sure, their names are Biblical, but she’s Old Testament, and he’s New Testament–an obvious sign they were never meant to be.

Paul’s Not Really the Marrying Kind, Anyway

Paul doesn’t speak to her kindly and ditches her at a party to mingle with important people. This allows Adam to tell Eve how horrible Paul is. He berates her for being such a shortsighted fool and scolds her for letting her boyfriend treat her like crap. So Eve should ditch that zero and hook up with him, the book’s hero.

Then one day, Adam plants a big old Yankee kiss on her, which gets Eve hot and bothered. She realizes, “Oh, I’m supposed to be attracted to the guy I want to marry, not just like him for “reasons.” So she dumps Paul, and Adam is there to gobble her up.

Ultimately, Adam gets proof that Paul was stealing Eve’s fortune right from under her nose. Eve was too busy with her art to count her millions, and multitasking was not for her. Seriously this girl was just so passive!

No worries, Adam is mega-rich, and Eve can paint her brilliant pieces to heart’s content on either side of the Atlantic.

elusive as the unicorn mortimer ward of excellence
The art scene in the early 1990s was très avant-garde.

Adam Gardener and Eve Eden (The Stupidest Names Ever for a Couple in a Romance Novel)

Adam was like a single-minded predator, a shark fixated on what he wanted to eat (Eve tacos). He was so overbearing; it was actually charming. Adam was the lone bright spot in this book, but his flame was not strong enough to make this thing sizzle.

Eve is a placid, non-entity of a character. All she wants is to be left alone to paint her pictures and marry Paul. Her grandparents left her a windfall, so Eve could afford to live as she pleased. (Eve’s an orphan, naturalment). She has a cousin who makes googly eyes at Adam, but there’s nothin’ doin’ there.

elusive as the unicorn

Final Analysis of Elusive as the Unicorn

Elusive as the Unicorn was one in a string of mediocre Harlequin Presents that I read in the spring of 1990, which made me temporarily lose interest in the line in favor of the more lusty Temptation romances. I thank the “reading gods” for authors Robyn Donald, Violet Winspear, and especially Charlotte Lamb for drawing me back in with their over-the-top cruel heroes and insane plots.

This book wasn’t horrid, but it wasn’t exciting or angsty. While I appreciated (and still do) that Carole Mortimer was one of the few authors in the Presents line who wrote blond heroes, if Elusive as the Unicorn was an example of the best of her works, I wasn’t interested in reading more. Thankfully, it turned out that Mortimer wrote many, many books, and this award-winning romance was by no means the best of them.

This is a romance I’m glad to say I’ve read—for historical reasons, not out of enjoyment.

elusive as the unicorn
Rating Report Card
Fun Factor
Overall: 2.3


Eve Eden considered Adam forbidden fruit

When Eve Eden discovered that Adam Gardener, successful art entrepreneur, was searching for the legendary English artist, The Unicorn, she nervously shied away. The Unicorn’s true identity hit too close to home….

Besides, Eve was rattled by Adam’s mesmerizing presence, especially in light of the ridiculous coincidence of their names–and his determination to take advantage of it! But Eve was already engaged to marry her longtime friend, Paul.

Yet Eve found herself troubled by the different choices Adam and Paul presented. If only the answer to her dilemma didn’t keep eluding her….

Elusive as the Unicorn by Carole Mortimer

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