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Kiss of a Tyrant PargeterKiss of a Tyrant by Margaret Pargeter
Harlequin Romance #2375

The virgin’s vindication. One of my favorite tropes. If you don’t know of it yet, it’s a good one. It culminates with the hero – an angry man of the highest order – as his head snaps up to look in mute horror to study the face of the maiden beneath him after he’s inadvertently stolen her virginity. The inadvertent part is important.

But not as important as the hero’s grim belief that the heroine is not a virgin. And dammit, she should be.

What if I asked you to prove you’d never belonged to another man?

Such is the way with Kiss of a Tyrant.

Sloan Maddison is an Australian alpha male who finds himself in the English countryside where his widowed mother contemplates returning to live. In a country inn, he meets interior decorator Stacy Weldon. Stacy is “on leave” from her career, helping her mother and sister at the inn after being nearly raped by her boss. She is wounded and angry and not optimistic about her future.

Sloan is attracted to her. Pretty sure he wants to marry her. So uses his mother’s illness as an excuse to carry her off to Australia. But on the way out the door, he gets wind of that “affair” with her boss. And he’s hopping mad about it. She must have asked for it, and along the way, collected other affairs that now debases their own kindling desire.

The hero’s she-must-have-asked-for-it motivation is a hole in the plot that has widened over time. But it’s easy to jump across. Because Sloan is sexy in the way only an angry pants hero can be. Mean, misguided, and hard to get. Oh, but in love nonetheless.

The wrap-up is a bit holey, too, and would have been for readers even in 1980. Sloan is mean to Stacy up until the final moment, but claims he had known of her innocence for the preceding two whole days before the final page. He wanted to see if she could really adapt to his remote Australian way of life. Huh.

Sloan is mean as a billy goat. But, alas, sexier. So I can forgive the holes, even if Mr. Angrypants can’t.