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Elusive as the Unicorn by Carole Mortimer

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

MILD SPOILERS 😉

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
Plot
2.5
Characters
2.5
Writing
2
Chemistry
2
Fun Factor
2
Cover
3
Overall: 2.3

Synopsis

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
gypsy carole mortimer

Contemporary Romance Review: Gypsy by Carole Mortimer

BOOK-REVIEW-contemporary
Gypsy by Carole Mortimer
Rating: three-stars
Published: 1985
Illustrator: TBD
Imprint or Line: Harlequin Signature Edition
Published by: Harlequin
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 383
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: AmazonAbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Contemporary Romance Review: Gypsy by Carole Mortimer

MILD SPOILERS 😉

The Book

I have a real love/hate situation with Gypsy by Carole Mortimer, a full-length contemporary romance. It’s got some concepts I adore and others, like adultery, that make me want to toss this book across the room.

Carole Mortimer is one of the few Harlequin authors who regularly features blond heroes (I prefer them to the “tall, dark” archetype), so I have tons of her books. Usually, I enjoy reading them.

She had been his brothers wife, he hadn’t seen her for three years, and yet he had only to think of her to ache with an unrequited desire, knew that he ached with that desire even now.

The Plot

Here, the fair-haired “hero,” Lyon, is a real nasty piece of work. He’s an adulterous husband who refuses to divorce his wife because he feels he owes it to her to stick around.

That made no sense to me. I had a hard time dealing with the adultery concept. For some reason, I can accept it in historicals, but in contemporaries, I don’t have much sympathy.

I couldn’t understand why Lyon’s wife didn’t divorce him.

Worse still is the supposed heroine, Shay. What kind of woman is cool with screwing a married man who lives with his wife, who also cheats, and they all hang out together at parties like it’s no big thing?

gypsy carole mortimer

Yes, she was very young, plus a virgin before Lyon came along and was naïve. But naïve and stupid shouldn’t mean the same thing.

And yes, Shay left Lyon to marry his younger brother, Ricky, when she discovered she was pregnant with Lyon’s child. It’s creepy, too, how now Ricky’s dead and she’s pregnant with his child.

But all that in Gypsy didn’t bother me as much as Lyon being married. He is supposedly madly in love with Shay, yet unwilling to divorce his wife, while they both carried on affairs. I guess everyone has their peeves, and adultery in contemporaries is one of mine.

gypsy by carole mortimer
Gypsy, Carole Mortimer, Mills & Boon, 1986, cover artist unknown

Final Analysis of Gypsy

Still, Carole Mortimer’s Gypsy had this kind of “car-accident” vibe to it, where I couldn’t look away or put the book down.

The serpentine semi-incestuous and adulterous relationships did make for a crazy time. It’s worth a read, even if I felt I needed to shower afterward.

3 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
3
Characters
2.5
Writing
3.5
Chemistry
3
Fun Factor
3
Cover
4
Overall: 3.2

Synopsis

Claiming his woman…

Shay is the raven-haired beauty the Falconer brothers called Gypsy. Irresistible to each brother, it was Lyon Falconer who claimed her—when he didn’t have the right… Yet it was Ricky, the youngest Falconer, who picked up the fragments of Shay’s shattered life and married her out of love.

But, with her husband’s death, destiny has hurled Shay back within Lyon’s reach. Now Lyon has a final chance to prove that Shay has always been—and would always be—his!

GYPSY by CAROLE MORTIMER
love unspoken

Category Romance Review: Love Unspoken by Carole Mortimer

category romance

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book

Carole Mortimer’s Love Unspoken is one of those infamously controversial Harlequin Presents where readers can’t stop talking about it, even if it’s not necessarily well-loved.

It must be the change of seasons. Something in the air, because I can’t explain it, I really liked this one—almost loved it, actually, until the end.

The Set Up

Love Unspoken begins with the heroine, Julie, a jet-setting journalist, having just been released by terrorists. They had held her and her fellow flight-mates hostage.

She’s a little bruised and reeling when her boyfriend, Steve, shows up with concern. Julie and Steve have been dating for six months—by her own admission, some of the happiest she’s ever spent—but Julie, a mature gal in her mid-twenties, just can’t make the jump from heavy petting to sex.

She likes keeping Steve on a firm leash while he pants for more from her, but she’s not giving him any biscuits!

Steve knows Julie was involved with the Zack Reedman in the past. In fact, she had a year-long affair with him, so could it be old feelings for him that hold her back?

“You’ve forgotten how to be a woman!”

The Plot

Julie adamantly denies having any attachment to Zack, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. It was no mere affair; Julie had been married to Zack for a year, a turbulent, passionate year before they separated.

She’s still married to Zack despite not having seen him in three years.

Time is not on Julie’s side because her best friend is married to Zack’s brother and invites her to spend some time convalescing at their home in the country.

Just coincidentally, it also happens to be the anniversary of Julie and Zack’s marriage, when who should show up unexpectedly, but Zack!

Zack has been keeping himself quite busy with plenty of women and now seems to be on the verge of engagement with another woman.

Divorce is now on the agenda, yet Zack can’t keep his hands off his ex. Julie, disgusted, pushes him away, restating her hatred of him.

Zack’s brother demands to know just what happened to break up the couple. Zack was incredibly jealous and possessive and never appreciated Julie’s career, which kept her out of the country more often than at home.

He would always accuse her of having affairs with her coworkers.

On the night they split up for good, Julie got a call to fly out for a job. This is when Julie drops the bombshell. In a fit of rage, Zack beat and raped her, ending their once-loving relationship.

Zack and Julie act ridiculously as he pursues her, and she flees from him while they both string along with their significant others.

Their crazy lust–er, love, for each other won’t be denied. They have a one-night stand together while said significant others are under the same roof with them—Julie’s guy is even the room adjoining hers!

The Insanity Continues

Of course, this being the land of drama, that one night results in pregnancy. Julie does her best to hide the pregnancy from Zack, but he finds out anyway. Then he finds out that after she left him, she suffered a miscarriage.

We’re well near the end of the book, but Zack hasn’t changed one bit and stopped being a jealous lout because he falsely accuses Julie of hiding that secret because he wasn’t the baby’s father. What an a-hole, right?

Julie and Zack reunite platonically for the baby’s sake, she quits her job, and they settle in the country.

Finally, after giving birth to their child, Zack discovers one more truth: it was due to his violent rape of Julie that she miscarried their first child.

Zack leaves his wife at the hospital, locks himself up in his study, drinking his miseries away, wallowing in self-pity.

So Julie does the only thing she can, releases herself from the hospital early to run to Zack’s side.

She reveals the last truth to him: her father was a serial adulterer, driving her mother to an early death. That was why Julie always kept herself at a distance from Zack because she never wanted to love as deeply as her mother did.

Zack cries, she cries, and the two vow to spend their marriage together as one passionate affair.

Final Analysis of Love Unspoken

Now, why the hell did I like a book like this?

I can’t explain. The emotional ups and down in Love Unspoken were thrilling, with almost every chapter ending in a shocking cliffhanger where more information is revealed.

I can understand why the plot would turn many readers off, and to be honest, when I had heard what the book was about, I wasn’t crazy about reading it. But something about it just worked for me.

As I said, it must be something perverse in the air that made me enjoy this.

There is no actual resolution to their problems. There’s no marriage counseling. No private counseling.

No helpful aid from friends and family. Zack’s still jealous still uses alcohol as a crutch, still potentially violent.

And Julie is… Well, Julie’s clearly not all there, either, because she’s willing to overlook all those dangerous flaws because of true love.

What a horrible hero. What a horrible heroine. She’s a codependent user, and he’s a drunk abuser.

They deserved each other and will no doubt have a very long, very rocky marriage where they make everyone miserable, including themselves, but will only be more miserable apart from one another.

What a crazy mess. And I liked it.

4.5 Stars

Rating Report Card
Plot
5
Characters
4.5
Writing
4.5
Chemistry
4
Fun Factor
5
Cover
4
Overall: 4.5

Synopsis

“You’ve forgotten how to be a woman!”

Zach Reedman’s bitter accusation had been the death knell of his marriage to Julie. And even after three long years Julie still winced when she remembered his parting words

She’d been a budding journalist, he her publisher when they met. A love too strong and passionate to resist had led them quickly to the altar, but even after her vows Julie’s career had come before her husband.

Older and wiser, she met Zach again, And as the wounds time had never fully healed were reopened, so once more was her heart…. 

LOVE UNSPOKEN by CAROLE MORTIMER