BLOG REVIEW: Passion Flower by Diana Palmer

23yo interior decorator in New York City doesn't mind trading in her glamorous big city life
for a job as a combination cook, housekeeper, & office assistant in the struggling Texas ranch
of gruff 35yo cattleman Hero.
Her recent illness & family losses has sapped her life & changed her motivations.
Hero is too steep in his current financial struggles to take notice of heroine.
Until one day when he finally becomes aware of her as a woman.
It didn't take long, however, for him to reject her, when he finds out about her background.
Pushing her to her limits
and to revive her career.
Hero shows up at her work one day, looking richer & blackmailing her for her professional services.
He warns her of his plans to win her back.
And she retaliates with a warning that she won't settle for less with him.
Will his seduction attempts work to lower her guard this time?
Or does he give up & move on to someone more his type?

The last time I read Diana Palmer (DP) was 3 years ago. I needed all these 3 years to recover from her trainwreck of a book called Iron Cowboy (here's my review). So, now that time has numbed (cured?) my DP aversion I picked this book up. Overall, this book was pleasant & tamer than the typical DP book I remember. Sexual chemistry was gripping but there were no consummated-sex scenes. It was written in 1984 after all, when detailed sex scenes were not the norm in romance novels. There were some hot foreplay scenes though. The emotional tension between Hero and heroine, with their unspoken feelings, misunderstandings, & increasing attraction towards each other, was a big part of what made these foreplay scenes so hot. I love authors who can convey all this in a book. So, I don't even mind the lack of sex scenes.

There were few surprising & atypical moments in this DP book. Firstly, Hero was not as abusive as the average DP Hero. He was actually the one who felt inferior to heroine. His pushing her away was hurtful but understandable. He wasn't as cruel as other DP Heroes. The most hurtful statement Hero made to heroine was minimizing her sexual value as a replaceable body. Secondly, heroine stood up to Hero & didn't let him make her feel bad for being “better” than him or possessing standards. She was a typical meek & forgiving DP heroine. But she balanced it out with some spunk. Especially after Hero kicked her out. She left before the time he wanted her gone & she didn't let him dally with her without a commitment. As sexually tempting as he was. I liked that she didn't merely pine away silently for him during their 3 months apart. She got her act together & went back to the career she enjoyed. She didn't let Hero's insecurities about her better career & better pay stop her. She didn't even feel guilty! How refreshing for a DP heroine. Thirdly, she confronted him on his hurtful actions towards her. He was trying to avoid discussing his offenses towards him but she wouldn't let him. She told him like it was & he was the one who had to fumble & bumble his way towards earning her forgiveness & trust. And did he? I think so.

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His offenses:
After finding out she was a successful career-woman from a big city, he flew off the handle & wanted her out of his house within the week. This happened a few minutes after they first got hot & heavy. And he was being sweet with her & was promising her things. But, as soon as he learned her background, he said some pretty mean things to her. It didn't matter that she sacrificed her time & effort to work a second job to help him with his financial bind. It also didn't matter to him that she did it out of kindness to him & as a repayment for his kindness in helping her out by hiring her & letting her live in his house. He cut her with words & tried to make her feel bad for being more superior to him financially & socially.

His grovel:
1.) He sincerely apologized & took full responsibility for hurting her. He explained why he reacted the way he did. Not so she can excuse his bad behavior but to make her understand the root of his misbehavior & make it clear that she didn't do anything wrong. It was all him. 

2.) He sold the oil rights in his land, which was something he was adamantly opposed to before. He did it so to provide heroine with a comfortable lifestyle he believed she was used to. To be worthy of her financially & socially. This was a big sacrifice for him. He had to swallow his pride to sell his oil rights. Poverty & social pressure didn't make him budge an inch. But getting heroine back by being worthy enough for her did. 

3.) He respected her wish for marriage before sex & said “no” to her, when she finally yielded to him sexually. He knew how important marriage was to virgin heroine & wanted to keep her from having any regrets about their premarital sex. So, he sacrificed sex with her until their wedding for her peace of mind.

His grovel setbacks:
1.) Although he apologized & owned up to his misdeeds towards heroine, he did a lot of manipulating (including blackmailing her to work for him or else threaten her supportive boss' business & pretending he was interested in his female neighbor) first to break down her resistances. He played dirty. But I forgave him for it because he was doing it to get her back in his life. 

I also forgave him because she had such a strong hold over him. He accused her of ruining his libido with other women. He couldn't get it up with them. Poor thing...Not! His erectile dysfunction with other women (but not with heroine) & 3-month celibacy points to heroine's power over him. Also, when his plan didn't work as smoothly as he expected, he had to amend it a few times. This was somewhat endearing because it showed his vulnerability & his desperation for her. 

2.) He may have sold the oil rights to his land for her lifestyle comfort but he also did it to boost his suffering ego. His ego suffered a big blow when he found out that she was an educated city-girl who was a successful interior decorator with a higher income than him. His new wealth afforded him a sense of equality with her & maybe even a superiority over her, financially & socially. 

3.) He did put a limit on sex with her once she said “yes” to him. However, not without his lack of trying. He promised her at one time to not seduce her anymore but that didn't last long. He tried to win her back by tempting her sexually. So, I found it ironic that once he got what he wanted that he put a stop to their sexual play.

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Hero did grovel but his accompanying actions & motivations detracted from the depth of his self-sacrifice & atonement towards heroine. It made his groveling not as good as it could've been. I must say, though, that for a DP book this Hero's grovel may be as good as it can get. Either way, it took me awhile to sift out the gold of his grovel from the dross of his manipulative actions. But I did find it.

I moderately recommend this book.