The title is completely misleading. The novel is 100% american. And the heroine, Neely, doesn't become the hero's girlfriend until Chapter 8 of a 10 chapter book.
This is a fantastic fantastic story...if you like romances about high-income good-looking main couples. The plot is excellent. There is no criminal activity whatsoever. No blood-sucking, murder, stalking or thieving. That makes a nice change. Also missing is the hotness. I was going to say that does not matter but that would not be the truth. Especially missing is the language that goes with the hotness. I actually enjoy reading that. But all that is missing from this novel. Just because the main couple are middle class doesn't mean they can't talk dirty about bump and grind.
The spice in the story comes entirely from the two times the hero, Sebastian, turns into a Complete Asshole. The first time is in Chapter 7. Brother! He is such a bastard to the heroine, Neely. He makes an accusation that comes entirely from his own sexism and professional prejudice. The only reason he gets away with it is because Neely puts him right straight away and he immediately apologises in a believable way. The second time is in Chapter 9 when he tells Neely that the condition for continuing their relationship is that she never works for his father. Believing that she betrays him if she even talks his dad. I just totally applaud Neely for the way she dealt with both situations. Sebastian is a very complicated character indeed. I can't make up my mind whether he actually likes all his shirt-tail relations at all or whether he is just determined to be as unlike his father as possible.
Sebastian has a couple of scenes of profound depression. The first when he's lying in the dark when Neely plays the violin. And then it was Completely Wrong how he was marginalised at his sister's wedding. Neely was right. Sebastian should have walked Vangie up the aisle. That was the most fitting way his family could have thanked him for all he'd done for them. I wanted to cry for Sebastian as I read that scene. Real high income extended families don't care a fig about normality. The clever author though immediately turned Sebastian into the bad guy when he resented his Dad making some moves on Neely during the wedding despite her going to so much trouble to communicate verbally and through her body language that she was 100% loyal to him alone.
I'm giving the impression that Neely doesn't have an interesting back story. She does. But she understands it better than Sebastian does his. And she had some happiness when her mom married John. Sebastian was always on the outside. Sebastian returns to Neely because he feels lonely without her. I also wanted him to realise that it was his relationship with Neely that would stop him turning into a carbon copy of his serial womanising father.
What I didn't really understand is how come Neely had so much less money than Sebastian. She is an award winning architect! Surely she could have afforded to buy the houseboat. Also. Is Neely really going to marry a guy who himself says that he is proud to be a carbon copy of her workaholic Dad? That is a conversation she should have had with herself...definitely. A bit less Lara and Max...a little more of Neely dealing with some insecurities would have been lovely. Although I think Sebastian will commit to his children.
The writing is very good. (Yes, its a series romance so it does have the usual quota of ickness...like Neely giving out mixed messages about her relationships with the older men in the story...like Sebastian not asking about what the other tenant in the houseboat was like...like Neely secretly going to work for her long-lost dead-beat Dad...and please...she ditches Sebastian and moves into his Dad's house. What kind of behaviour is that??? In a way. This story should have been about Neely. So really, unlike other reviewers I didn't think she was 'too sweet' at all. Plus. Let's face it, the way she off-loaded her pets onto people she hardly knew at all was pretty ruthless. To say nothing of the fact that she must have known Max had kicked Sebastian off the Carmody project because he wanted to promote his daughter's skills on a touchstone design commission. btw Sebastian is a millionaire in all but name. Happily though, no secret baby.) I'm putting it on my recommended list where it will stay unless I read it a few more times and decide the HEA is too fragile.
I bought it as an e-book from the Harlequin website. It downloaded in about 3 seconds flat. I was at first very suspicious of the speed but everything worked lovely. You need adobe digital editions though.
p.s. I haven't deserted print. I've got a big package on the way. Can't wait!