Review: Shattered Dreams

Shattered Dreams by Sally Wentworth
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Virginity is the great separator of the whores and the whore-nots in HPLandia. No matter how much the heroine insists that she’s telling the truth and she has never had sex with anyone, much less half of the cisgendered, heterosexual males in Greater Manchester, the hero will not believe her until he finally gets it in there and breaches her hymen with his mighty, thrusting steed. Then all of a sudden, he’s all apologetic and the kindest, most sensitive dude the heroine has ever met and he’s on his knees, begging the heroine for forgiveness for how could he have been so blind, not to believe a beautiful wide-eyed innocent such as she? Give me a break.

Our “hero” Hugo Merrion shatters the heroine Kate’s dreams, all right, and practically breaks her down mentally and emotionally after all is said and done in this book. Hugo is unforgiving and brutal, even though all of the fault, everything that goes wrong within the story, belongs to him. Kate is truly innocent of everything he accuses her of. She doesn’t lie or deceive him about anything. He just flies off the handle because he received some incomplete information after the wedding about Kate; he doesn’t bother confronting her about any of it and just goes on assuming she lied to him because she must be Bathsheba and the Whore of Babylon incarnate, sent down by an Almighty Power to destroy him and all of MAN. What a tool. But maybe he can claim temporary insanity or something because his oversexed hormones overpower his mental faculties, turning him into a grunting, drooling Neanderthal who refuses to listen to reason.

When Hugo and Kate first meet at a fashion show for a charity benefit, Kate rightly assumes that Hugo is a rich, privileged douchebag who only wants to have sex with her because he thinks she’s a dumb model, so she flat out turns him down and does so several times. But then he kept returning, telling her he’s not one of those guys, so she gives him a chance and they have a handful of dates where she discovers that Hugo is a gentleman because he takes her to nice places like the opera where he doesn’t try to paw her or anything. Kate is pleasantly surprised. That is, until she invites him in for coffee and makes the mistake of kissing him and Hugo wrongly assumes that it’s on like Donkey Kong. He says he knows models sleep with everybody, so it’s cool with him and he’ll be very generous with her as her protector and even give her a generous severance bonus after he’s sick of her as his mistress. Kate is appalled and tells him to GTFO. Hugo’s little Hugo deflates, so he retreats to form a new plan: he’s going to get Kate to marry him, instead, and she’d for sure have to sleep with him then, the dumb broad. Kate is halfway in love with Hugo despite him being an enormous dirtbag, so she says yes when he proposes to her. They have a wonderful wedding and Hugo was affectionate and loving and seemingly proud of her, so Kate is deliriously happy…that is, until she overhears Hugo talking to a friend of his about the wedding being a huge mistake. Basically, Dickbag Hugo tells his buddy that Kate dicked him over because she’s really a big old whore despite her claim of innocence since he just received a report from a private detective that he hired to follow her around and the report says Kate has a lover that she lives with named Leo Crawford.

Unbeknownst to this creeper who had his girlfriend investigated by a private detective—seriously, who does this—Leo Crawford is actually Kate’s half-brother whom she doesn’t see often because he lives in Buenos Aires and he was just visiting her in London for a little bit for the wedding, but then he had to leave for an assignment immediately and couldn’t even attend the ceremony.

Kate is, of course, shocked. Okay, so the guy you’re so ga-ga about that you married him after knowing him for a month and change, (why do HP couples do this? Wait at least a year, kiddos!) suddenly turns out to be the complete jerkweed who only wants to get into your drawers, like you initially thought he was, and he doesn’t really love you—what do you do? Oh, girl. Trust your instincts, first of all. She flees to her girlfriend Margie, who couldn’t attend the wedding due to her kids being sick, because she knows Hugo won’t find her there and she’ll have time to regroup and formulate a plan that doesn’t involve sticking her head in an oven Sylvia Plath-style. Simon, Margie’s husband (a male—this is an important detail), is a solicitor and offers to act on her behalf to approach Hugo about getting an annulment. Meanwhile, he thinks Kate should get out of Dodge while the heat is on and says she can stay in their villa in Majorca, Spain. Sweet.

With a few bucks that Simon lends her, some clothes, and only her passport, Kate flees to Spain to hide out from Hugo. She hasn’t been there long when she comes across a girl who almost gets trampled by her own horse, so Kate saves her and gets hurt in the process. The family of the girl is grateful and pays for her hospital bills and asks that she stay at their house with them, instead of being all alone at the villa while she recuperates from her injuries. The girl she saved, of course, has a hot brother called Carlos, but for once, he doesn’t want to get with our beautiful, wild-eyed heroine. Instead, he already has his eye on a girl named Consuelo, but she takes him for granted and has gotten wishy-washy about the wedding that was supposed to be a sure thing already. Kate and Carlos become good friends with Kate giving Carlos friendly advice on how to get Consuelo to fall in love with him, without revealing anything about her own circumstance. She and Carlos get close enough that his own family begin to get suspicious of Kate, so they want her out of their house, if possible, but Carlos hasn’t forgotten that she had saved his younger sister’s life. Carlos promises to help her get back to England.

Hugo finally finds Kate in Spain because he has spies everywhere, following her around, and he tries to snatch her from a party with Carlos. He fails and gets thrown out for being a gatecrasher, so instead he goes the villa and breaks in to wait for Kate there. While waiting for Kate, he screws in all the windows shut so that Kate would have less avenues for escape. When Kate finally arrives at the villa, Hugo is lying in wait for her, and what follows is two days of imprisonment, interrogation, and mental and emotional torture (no joke). He accuses her of sleeping with Carlos and Simon, her solicitor friend, who owns the villa and gave her money to flee to Spain. He accuses her of sleeping with all the men who has ever helped her. To get away from his crazy ass, Kate manages to escape once through the bathroom window, but Hugo catches up to her when she trips over some sheep in the field and he tackles her to the ground, after which he proceeds to drag her back to the villa. Kate gives him a full confession, admitting that she is indeed a whore and has slept with everyone she has ever encountered in the modelling business and yes, Leo Crawford is her dirty lover, while Hugo records the whole thing (!) with the intention of ruining her life along with Leo’s, using her sordid confessions against her. Of course, none of it is true. Kate is just biding her time, humoring this psychopath at this point, waiting for Carlos to arrive to take her to the airport, like he promised.

When Carlos arrives two days later, he refuses to take Kate along with him because Hugh presents him with a marriage certificate to prove Kate is his wife. Carlos is an old-fashioned male with traditional Spanish values, so he won’t take a woman from her husband because he believes she belongs with him. Kate is trapped, shocked as Carlos says goodbye. Just as Kate has basically given up on ever being happy and is contemplating her life as Hugo’s prisoner for life, since she knows she’ll probably never leave him upon realizing she actually does love him even though he has treated her with nothing but contempt and disgust. Meanwhile, Hugo tells her he doesn’t believe the confession after all because she just doesn’t have the jaded cynicism of a whore and just seems so innocent, so he erases the tape. Kate finally tells him that Leo is her brother and Hugo confesses that he actually had the report double-checked and was beginning to have his doubts about Kate being a whore—but he just couldn’t believe that she wasn’t a whore, so he just hung on to his anger and pursued her with it because she left him and her leaving convinced him of her guilt. Kate tells him she left him because she overheard him telling his friend that the marriage is a sham and he just wanted to marry her because she wouldn’t sleep with him otherwise. Hugo’s response is basically, “Well, yeah, but then I realized I was actually in love with you from the very beginning, but the love jones messed with my sanity and I couldn’t think straight because my ballocks were doing all my thinking for me.” Abstinence Only as a form of birth control for unmarried couples is a TERRIBLE idea for this reason alone.

Hugo is a horrible person. I couldn’t really enjoy this book even though it’s by Sally Wentworth and she’s, like, on my Top Five Harlequin Presents favorite authors because Hugo is just a really bad person. He has no redeeming qualities at all. At first I was really frustrated with Kate as a heroine because I couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t just stop and tell Hugo that Leo is her brother, but as the novel went on, I was like, “No, forget that. Kate, you don’t owe him any explanation at all.” The dude hired a private detective to follow her around because he’s so convinced that she’s this dirty whore who could not be trusted. Jesus, Hugo, why would you marry anyone like that? Just because you want to sleep with her? What kind of reasoning does this guy have? He’s completely insane. The premise of this book did not make sense to me at all, plus the whole crap with Carlos could have been excised and the story would have been fine. That part was just really boring and kind of meandered. This was almost a DNF for me because Hugo was almost unbearable as a hero and I never wanted him to catch up to Kate ever. I just wanted Kate to be able to escape to Buenos Aires and live with her brother Leo, if I didn’t also suspect he wasn’t some kind of drug smuggler.

I just had a feeling that if Sally Wentworth had provided us some more info about Leo, he’d turned out to be hella shady or something…


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