Poo Penny and I both read The Italian’s Pregnant Virgin by Maisey Yates, to completely differing results. I messaged Poo Penny to read it because of the science (or lack thereof) in the story. Poo is a chemical engineer, so I was eager to hear her take on the premise behind the story. I thought it was ridiculous, though it didn’t really effect my enjoyment of the story. Poo, on the other hand – YEOW!
Poo Penny’s Take:
UM. Alright, well that was weird. Lots of spoilers ahead.
First off, the why Renzo needs to call Ashley, the ex, to confirm Esther’s story is beyond me, they have these little things called DNA tests. They can even be done while pregnant! However, the claim that Ashley took Esther to a neighboring province to get the procedure done with a condom full of Renzo’s swimmers is abso-fricken-ridiculous. First of all, condoms are usually coated in spermicide, so they die within hours. Pretending that there was no spermicide, unless crazy pants Ashley kept the condom in a dark and anaerobic condition, they swimmers would have died within a few days. And since we don’t really have a timeline for when Ashley took said condom to said doctor, I guess its kind of possible, but improbable. But what freaking doctor would take a sperm sample and simply impregnate a surrogate? There is a lot of paperwork that goes into that kind of stuff.
Besides that, when Esther and Renzo do hook up, OMG DO YOU KNOW WHAT THEY DON’T USE? A FREAKING CONDOM. He just says, “I am clean and healthy, I was tested after Ashley”, and Esther says, “Yes please, give me the uncovered sausage I have no experience in this but I am sure it is a great idea, I am already pregnant, so the worst that can happen is some unexpected STI, and you are rich and don’t lie because I have known you for 3 weeks.” I think you can all guess how I feel about contemporary romances not using condoms.
There are spoilers.
This was ridiculous, but I enjoyed it anyway. Esther’s pregnancy is HIGHLY improbable, to the point that my eyebrows couldn’t raise any higher on my forehead. After making a deal with Renzo’s wife, Ashley, she agrees to become a surrogate for what she thinks is a couple desperate to have a child. What she doesn’t know is that Renzo and his wife are on the outs, and that Ashley sneaked a used condom (yes, yes, she did!) to a fertility clinic in a neighboring country because surrogacy is illegal in Italy. The first thing I kept wondering was where oh where did she hide that used tube of latex. In her panty drawer? It was just so bizarre, and I couldn’t stop reading. But wait! It gets better!
Esther, it is revealed, has been raised in a commune. I was like, really?! I have never read a Harlequin where ANYONE was raised in a commune. So here is this naïve, gullible woman who was thrown out of her secluded commune by her father after being caught with books and gasp! CDs. She is backpacking her way around Europe, and is currently working in a bar in Rome and living in a hostel until she saves up enough scratch to continue on her journey to – nowhere, really. Somehow she thought agreeing to be a surrogate to a complete stranger was a good idea?? Without even bothering to meet the husband whose sperm she would be cultivating??
Equally unbelievable, Renzo, a worldly, wealthy man, just takes her at her word when she shows up with her crazy pregnancy tale. He does call Ashley later to confirm, but Dude! You are a gabillionaire, and DNA testing is not outside of your budget!! Because surrogacy is illegal, and because he has already caused enough embarrassment to his wealthy family, he makes Esther agree to pretend to be his fiancée. He’s fresh out of a divorce, the ink hasn’t even dried on the divorce papers, and he and Esther are going to make everyone believe they are madly in love and will be married soon. Ugh. His poor mother. She, of course, doesn’t believe a word of it, and since she’s kind of a b$tch, she deserves to be put out by this sudden development, and the upcoming gossip it will yield.
I love Yates’ writing, and try to find the time to read as many of her books as I can (I’m failing and am far, far behind on her backlist). While I didn’t like Renzo, not at all, I found the story so far outside of the realm of believable that couldn’t stop reading it. Esther is portrayed as a hippie type, who sits on the floor to eat her breakfast. Renzo is SCANDALIZED to find her seated on the floor, sitting in a sunbeam, happily munching away at her cereal. This guy is so uptight I feared for him. Then I kind of hated him when he pretended to be in love with Esther, so she would marry him. He really was the worse kind of manipulator, and because of that, I was not convinced by the HEA. He LIED and told her he was in love with her, and then – BOING! fifteen minutes after she calls him out on his dishonesty, he decides that he really does love her. I did not buy it, and I was disappointed when Esther bought it. Make this jerk GROVEL!
Grade: 3.75 stars
Review copy borrowed from our local library
About the book:
“You will be my wife…”
Esther Abbott was backpacking across Europe when she was approached about being a surrogate. Desperately in need of the money, Esther agreed. But when the deal falls apart, she’s left pregnant and alone, with no one to turn to…except the baby’s father!
Learning he is to have a child with a woman he’s never met is a scandal Italian billionaire Renzo Valenti can’t afford. Following his recent bitter divorce and with an impeccable reputation to maintain, Renzo has no choice but to claim the child…and Esther as his wife!