Signed Over to Santino

Signed Over to Santino

Paperback - 2016
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Santino's six-week mistress  

Reeling from a family tragedy, champion figure skater Carla Nardozzi loses her virginity in one uncharacteristic night of oblivion with Spanish aristocrat Javier Santino. She flees the next morning, not knowing her rejection has earned her a black mark... 

Three years later, Carla needs Javier's help and he seizes his opportunity for retribution: Carla must become his lover to save her home. Javier should be satisfied; his ice princess is thawing once more. But as the passion heats up between them, Javier realizes he's found something even sweeter than revenge!

Publisher: Don Mills, Ontario : Harlequin Enterprises Limited, c2016
ISBN: 9780373134458
0373134452
Branch Call Number: PAPERBACK
Characteristics: 190 pages ; 17 cm

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FindingJane Feb 21, 2017

The blurb for this novel had me feeling a cold lump of distaste and dread. A man has a passionate night with a woman and afterwards she says they can’t see each other again. Does he nod with understanding? Does he part with words of regret and tenderness? Oh, no. Those would be mature responses. Here’s what Carla Nardozzi recalls of Javier Santino.

“The man who’d taken her virginity. The man who’d granted her the most sensual, intensely unforgettable night of her life. The man who’d then absorbed her shocked, poorly delivered words the morning after with granite-faced hatred, then proceeded to banish her from his life with the cold incisiveness of a scalpel-wielding surgeon.”

Yikes. No wonder she wants nothing more to do with him. Imagine reversing the genders of the people involved. Would any man want to get further involved with a woman who treated him this way after a one-night stand? I think not. So why should a woman put up with it?

But the author wants you on Mr. Santino’s side. So, time and again, we’re shown how Mr. Santino is in the legal right to have Carla do as he tells her, how he can’t trust her word when she’s apparently lied to him, how he has to (man)handle her affairs because her father has proven so inept at them. Well and good. But there’s no excuse or joy to be found at reading how Mr. Santino jabs at Carla’s apparent infidelities (when they’re not even together?), her escapades when he’s not around or how he’s always emotionally or physically manipulating her.

At times, Javier seems no better than Carla’s father. The similarities between these two men who mean to use Carla’s fame is so startling, I kept wishing that Carla would bring it up if only to sting Javier as meanly as he stabs at her.

But Carla herself concedes power to him at practically every turn, pleading, begging or apologizing for matters that aren’t even her own fault. She rarely tells him “no”, can’t resist his advances and basically turns into a passive, quivering lump of jelly whenever he advances on her. And he’s always advancing on her.

Javier is also one of those domineering guys who constantly need reassurance the woman they want doesn’t need another man. His conversations with her often read like interrogations and every passing mood of hers demands an explanation. Combining dictatorial commands or demands (hardly ever a “please” from this guy) with neediness isn’t appealing in a real or fictional hero.

Of course, he’s fighting his own attraction to her. But he can’t resist her. She’s the only one who lights his fire; he’s never been obsessed with any other woman like he is with her, etc., etc., etc. It doesn’t work. This is one of the worst and lowest kind of romantic fantasies, the kind that finds their culmination in books like “Fifty Shades of Grey”.

I realize that love isn’t all sunshine, rainbows, hearts and flowers. But there’s a difference between love that has its sober side and the kind of twisted affection on display here, one that’s supposed to spring from viciousness, betrayal and vindictiveness. If love is meant to arise from such horrid origins, then we can expect to find oak trees springing up from the ocean floor.

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