12 July 2014

It All Depends On Love (Harlequin Presents No. 1363)

Synopsis from back of book: Tessa had worked hard to get to the responsible position she held. The last thing she'd consider would be giving up surgery for the joys of love and marriage.

Patrick was an obsessive workaholic who'd built an empire and now saw the acquisition of children as a natural step to ensure the succession. And he wanted a full-time mother for his family.

“It would serve you right if you fell madly in love with a successful career woman,” Tessa said.

“I'd prefer to be a bachelor forever in that case,” Patrick replied.

Their battle of the wills was inevitable – but would one of them emerge the winner...?

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, published by Harlequin Enterprises Limited, 1991; from my personal collection of books – I have no idea where or how I acquired it.

My thoughts: The plot was a little silly and far fetched. Tessa is 27 and a surgeon who spends all her time working, to the point of near exhaustion. Her boss forces her to take a three month vacation, so she goes home to her godfather's, where she was raised after her parents died. He is away himself, but the home is currently occupied by his housekeeper and a dog named Henry. On her first day home, she discovers a hole in the wall between her home and the neighbor's, where Henry has been slipping through to make himself a nuisance next door. While examining the hole in hopes of repairing it, Patrick, the new owner of the neighboring home, happens along, and assumes she is there in answer to an ad he's run for a household staff member. He is condescending and arrogant, and wanting to take him down a peg or two, Tessa goes along with his assumption, taking on the persona of an 18 year old drop out, letting him think she is house-sitting next door. When they part company, she thinks how funny it will be when he learns who she really is. But to her surprise, she is later offered the position.

You would think at this point she would decline the employment offer, but no, she decides to accept, and continue with the joke. Naturally they are attracted to each other, with Tessa constantly being insulted by Patrick treating her as a silly teenager (though of course she is masquerading as one), and Patrick fighting the attraction and appearing to feel disgusted with himself every time he breaks down and kisses her, since he of course believes she is a flighty teenager considerably younger than he is. I kept feeling a sense of foreboding and thinking no good could come of this little game.

What saved the story for me was Tessa's personality. She's smart and sassy and funny. Since her job is just a lark to her, she isn't under the normal constraints a household staffer should be and has no problem smarting off or talking back to her boss, Patrick, or his snooty assistant who is also her boss. Until her enforced vacation she had immersed herself in work after a bad breakup, and hasn't really been interested in another relationship, but now she finds herself wanting Patrick. Meanwhile, Patrick tells anyone who will listen his views on marriage – someday he'll marry, but he will expect his wife to put him first and not have a career of her own.

As Tessa gets deeper and deeper into her lies and more involved in Patrick's household, she does begin having qualms about her charade, and she keeps deciding she's going to come clean and reveal her true identity, hoping in the process to wipe a smirk off Patrick's face and show him how wrong he is to judge people. But then she decides for one reason or other the time isn't right, and of course once she realizes she's fallen for him, she wants him to fall for her before he finds out she is a dreaded career woman.

A quick, fun and enjoyable read, despite the silly plot (and slightly creepy cover). 

09 July 2014

Gone With The Nerd (Nerds, Book 4)

Synopsis from back of book: Movie star Zoe Tarleton has everything but respect. Now she's determined to get it by snagging the coveted role of a plain-Jane chemist. All she needs is for her decidedly uncool attorney, Flynn Granger, to teach her the award-winning subtleties of being a nerd.

California's “Bigfoot Country” is the ideal secret hideaway for coaching. That means rehearsing the steamy scenes too. Who'd have guessed that Zoe and Flynn's performances would be so convincing? Unfortunately, something is turning their hot love story into a hair-raising thriller.

The killer bees, the poisoned food, and the toppled tree are no accidents. Someone's out to get them. Does Flynn have a love-struck woman in his life? Does Zoe have an insanely jealous fan? Or is Bigfoot real – and more resourceful than anyone imagined? It's just Zoe's luck. She's finally found the man of her dreams and the role of a lifetime – and both of them could be her last.

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, published by St. Martin's Press, 2005; Christmas present from my mom.

First line: Two blocks from the restaurant, Zoe Tarleton knew she was screwed.

My thoughts: Zoe is a fun heroine, a movie star who's been relegated to glamour girl roles and who longs to be taken seriously. She's auditioning for the role of a nerdy scientist, and decides she needs to immerse herself in the world of nerdism. Enter Flynn, her contract lawyer. He wears glasses, he drives an older car (she has to ask him how to lock the doors because the car does not have power locks), he's in a long distance relationship with another lawyer, and his PDA is never out his reach. When Zoe asks him to go to a remote cabin in the woods under the assumed names (from the movie script) of Tony and Vera (in order for her to avoid being recognized by anyone) and teach her everything she needs to know about being a nerd, he is resistant, but finally gives in and agrees, on one condition – he has to tell his girlfriend where he'll be and why.

Part of the nerd training sessions involve reading lines of hokey dialogue from the movie script, with Flynn coaching Zoe on how a nerd would talk or act or respond to situations, such as telling her the character of Vera would not leave the top two buttons of her blouse undone, or she would not sound so sure of herself, etc. I thought the movie dialogue was a little over the top, and that Zoe was wrong in thinking this was a serious movie that would get her serious attention. I kept anticipating that in the end the movie would be a bomb or be canceled before it got off the ground, or something along those lines. But no, it actually was a serious movie.

Of course all kinds of wacky times ensue, some between the two of them, some involving the local townspeople. Flynn quickly gets into the spirit of things and embraces his nerd persona, and Zoe quickly realizes she wants to embrace Flynn. They dance around each other, and the build up to their relationship was played out slowly (though not too slowly since it is a single weekend) and satisfyingly.

I went into this one a little leery compared to the other Nerd books, as the backdrop of the Bigfoot storyline did not appeal to me at all, but I was satisfied with the way that played out.

As usual with a Vicki Lewis Thompson book, there is plenty of humor to go along with the heat. One of my favorite passages:
As long as Flynn kept his tie on, he wouldn't turn into Tony. Besides, most sexual encounters began when a guy loosened his tie. A loose tie led to everything becoming loose. Flynn wanted to stay tight.

Unfortunately when I made a note of that passage I forgot to write down the page number and I'm too lazy to flip through the book and look for it now.

Very enjoyable, and I'm looking forward to continuing with the series. 

01 July 2014

The Sheikh's Impatient Virgin (Harlequin Presents No. 2901)


Synopsis from back of book: Set up against her will as a potential Arabian queen for the notorious Sheikh Karim, unworldly Eva has a plan to deter the desert king. She will convince him she's a modern, sexually experienced woman - and definitely not marriage material - even though she is really still a virgin.

However, the next thing she knows, Eva's become a bride! And her new husband is having a startling effect on her...She finds herself increasingly impatient; could it be that shy Eva is curious about what lies ahead in the sheikh's marriage bed?

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, published by Harlequin Enterprises Limited, 2009; purchased at a library sale.

My thoughts: Royalty is not one of my favorite tropes, much less sheikhs, so I went into this book with low expectations. Putting aside the sheikh factor, I still would not have loved it. Every scene seemed to be so drawn out, an exchange between the two characters that probably would have lasted five minutes would take that many pages to get through. A character would say something, and then one of them would be thinking thinking thinking and in my mind I pictured the other character just frozen in place waiting for the first character's internal monologue to end. And at one point, the heroine puts a small dog in the pocket of her coat and then forgets about him for pages and pages, while she walks and then gets in a car and argues with the hero and gets out of the car and I just can't imagine a dog lying quietly in a pocket for all that time and I worried that she would accidentally sit on it.