Donna Reads: Arm Candy by Patricia Ryan

Nora Armstrong has just arrived in New York and is looking to start her own jewelry-making business. She’s staying with her cousin, Harlan, who she has no idea is gay until she meets his live-in boyfriend. Harlan picks her up and greets her with the idea that he’s volunteered her as arm candy to an aristocratic British man named David Waite in exchange for what he hopes is David’s business for Harlan’s event-planning enterprise. David is a fundraiser with many wealthy clients. David is cold and aloof, determined to keep Nora at arm’s length. Nora is forced by Harlan to pretend to be a glamorous model. Nora begins to fall for David and hates living a lie.

There were parts of this book that I loved – the conversations between Nora and David, David’s friend Alec’s mother, Harlan and his boyfriend, and the romantic proposal at the end. Unfortunately what spoiled it for me were the scenes that made me feel uneasy. When a woman says “no”, it doesn’t mean try harder to subdue her and rip her clothes off. Sorry, that’s not romance, it’s rape. If the aim was to portray that this ultra-civilized man had a darker, more animal-like side, it could have been handled in a different way. Having him try to force himself on a virgin was distasteful, especially given what happened to her when she ran from him. Could the poor girl have had a shittier evening? I wish those scenes had been left out.

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