Another rescued take-free Harlequin romance, no speculative elements, and if someone out there wonders what exactly am I getting out of these books, I'm wondering the same thing myself.

grlfrom.jpgThe pair: Suki Black is a successful singer, who lets her emotions flow only on stage. Joel Harlow is a rich dude who develops one-sided obsession about Suki after seeing her perform.
Good points: awesome late seventies-early eighties fashions, from shiny caftans with lightning bolt design, sexy mermaid-style black lace dresses and innocent-looking faux-Victorian frillies (heroine) to slim-fit black silk shirts worn open-chested with matching black pants (hero)
Bad points: near-total lack of romance, horrible abusive man whose only redeeming quality seems to be his money.

The dominant 'alpha-hole' character so common in romances is not to my taste, but I can see the appeal (someone else taking charge and making all the decisions is at times a very relaxing fantasy). I get that this type of character can and should appear bossy, arrogant, commandeering and/or dangerous. However, it would not be a romance unless there were some mutual sparks of interest to sneakily develop into flames of passion and finally love. Joel Harlow, the hero of this book, sparks nothing but discomfort and straight-out fear in heroine Suki – and severe irritation bordering on disgust in the reader, in this reader a least. Mr Harlow looks angry or cruel or scary all the time. He intimidates and harasses Suki, kidnaps her, and takes advantage of social conventions and Suki's fear of scandal to abuse her. There are no smoldering looks, any chemistry between the two or indeed any giveaway this is supposed to be a romance, beyond that it is published in a romance series. For quite long I was hoping a second love interest would turn up, to protect Suki from this madman. No-one showed up so I had to resign to wait for a change of character in mr Harlow. But it never came. I'd ask for my money back if I had paid any.

The only thing going for mr Harlow – besides his fashion sense – is that he is the richest man in the world. Hmm. Has ever a romance been written where the male lead is a millionaire and yet somehow a decent human being?

In the last few pages poor Suki finally says something meaningful, and it almost seems like Joel might make some kind of breakthrough in his self-centered thinking, learning to see how his behavior appears to Suki, but unfortunately no. The moment is gone as soon as it came, and then marriage plans pop out of nowhere, as unconvincing and artificially plastered-on as marriage plans would be at the end of History of Accounting. Suki is never rewarded emotionally for all the abuse, and there is no convincing proof anything is going to change about Harlow. This does not fit at all into my theory of emotional justice being a driving force in romance books! How distressing!

This book raises so many questions, like
- Where are all the cover art illustration originals to pre-nineties romance books?
- Did women in the eighties really find this book a captivating and satisfying romance?
- Was a substantial part of the book, where Harlow sees the error of his ways and grovels in front of Suki begging for forgiveness, cut out due to page limits?
- Have I misidentified 'emotional justice' as a key ingredient to romance?
- Why do I torture myself with these idiotic books, in vain looking for some insight into human nature or whatever?? If I were to die tomorrow, I'd regret not having read important, wise, profound books I have waiting by my bedside. Why invest my precious reading time on stray Harlequin romances? What is wrong with me?

Final verdict: Girl from Nowhere annoyed me so much I ripped it apart and threw it in the paper recycling bin. Next time I see a cheap romance in a take-free box, I'm going to remind myself I'm not immortal, my reading time is limited, and the minutes spent on Girl from Nowhere are gone forever.