Friday, May 2, 2014

Perfect Partners - Jayne Ann Krentz (Pocket - Apr 1992)


Midwestern librarian Letitia Thornquist didn't have the right stuff to run Thornquist Gear, Inc. That was the bottom-line opinion of Joel Blackstone, the seasoned CEO who had built the small Seattle sporting goods store into an industry giant. But Letty's rich Uncle Charlie willed her the company, and now she was bubbling with enthusiasm to have Joel, a perfect mentor, show her the ropes.

Teaching her the business was all Joel grudgingly planned to do ...until the sensuous curves under Letty's navy suit and the unabashed desire in her wide, innocent eyes left him longing for a personal kind of merger. Soon his sizzling kisses convinced her that she wasn't in Kansas anymore. But no matter how skilled Joel was in the art of love, Letty knew she was at risk in his arms. Behind his tough facade she sensed a world of hurt that cried out for her warmth and understanding. She realized the "L" word might never be spoken if trust didn't make them perfect partners 9 to 5...and in the loving after-hours of midnight to dawn.

Fun book as both Letty and Joel go through some emotional growth.  Letty has been a small town college librarian for the past several years.  When her Uncle Charlie leaves her his sporting goods company, she decides it's time for a change.  She quits her job, breaks things off with her cheating fiance, and heads for Seattle to run the company.  Joel had an agreement with his boss that Charlie would sell him the company, as Joel was the one who took it from a little store to a major company.  But Charlie died before they could do it and now Joel is stuck with a woman who wants him to teach her what to do.

Letty is pretty naive as she thinks that she can step in with her ability to research how to do anything, plus getting Joel to teach her what to do.  She's made the decision because she needs a change.  She feels that she's been going through life more as an observer than a participant and this is what she needs to shake her up.  She doesn't seem to really understand how furious Joel is that she's basically stolen the company from him and expects him to be just fine with teaching her.  She has a lot of confidence that she will be able to handle things just fine.  Where she is lacking confidence is in her personal life.  She caught her fiance cheating with one of his grad students, which he blamed on her poor performance in bed. She's "read articles" that some women just don't do well that way and thinks she's one of them.  She doesn't expect the sizzle that she feels around Joel and wants to keep things purely professional between them.

In spite of her apparent ditziness, I loved the way that Letty had some real ability to contribute to the business.  Joel does his best to keep her involvement limited, but she finds a way to get involved.  Her tent raising efforts with their new line was a perfect example, as she showed Joel where some mistakes had been made with the tent instructions.  She was not going to back down in her opinions even though Joel was doing his best to intimidate her.  She also had strong opinions about the takeover that Joel had planned and she wasn't going to just sit back and let him run it all.

Joel had gotten involved in the business from the very beginning when he was hired to work there.  Letty's uncle wasn't a great businessman as  he'd rather be fishing.  So whenever Joel made a suggestion, Charlie told him to do whatever he felt was best, and soon the business was thriving.  He had great plans that came to a halt with Charlie's death.  He was stunned by Letty's plans and furious that she wouldn't just do what she was told.  He decided the easiest thing to do was humor her by letting her think she was doing important things, but he kept her limited in what she was actually exposed to.  He especially wanted to keep her away from his takeover plans for a small company in his hometown.  Joel is bent on revenge against the owner of that company and plans to acquire it and dismantle it.  He holds that owner responsible for his father's death, a death that has haunted him for fifteen years.  He's not happy when Letty finds out about it and tries to interfere.

Joel is also attracted to Letty and has no problem with the idea of sleeping with her.  His attraction takes him by surprise because she isn't like anyone he's ever been involved with before.  In spite of his frustration with her, he is also amused and fascinated by her.  When he finds out about her ex-fiance's opinion of her sexuality he tries to let Letty know it isn't her, that he ex is the one with the problem.  I loved seeing the two of them as they gave in to the attraction.  Joel gave Letty the confidence she needed to see that there was nothing wrong with her as a woman.  Letty gave Joel the kind of care for him as a man that he had never had from anyone else.  

She also got him to tell her just why he was so intent on destroying that other company.  It took some real work on her part and the ability to break through his walls to get him to see that he could destroy the owner without destroying the company.  I loved the way that she kept after him until she could get him to see things the way she did.

I had a lot of fun seeing the way that Letty was more capable than anyone thought she was.  I also had fun seeing her deal with her ex when he showed up and tried to take things over.  I could sense her building frustration with him and the way he totally ignored what she said, and loved the restaurant scene where it all boiled over.  There was one more scene with him later where she really made her point with him.

Joel had a lot of baggage that he'd been dragging around since he left his hometown.  Once Letty got involved in his plans, he ended up having to face a lot of things he had been ignoring.  On their visit to the town I loved seeing the way that Letty supported him but still didn't let him run roughshod over her.  I liked seeing how he was so great with Letty once he realized how badly her ex had treated her.  It was also fun to see him actually start to listen to some of the things she had to say about the business.

I liked the whole takeover part and how Letty's influence made such a change in Joel.  I also enjoyed seeing her look at different things than Joel did and how it added to the overall picture.  There were times I wasn't sure how that was going to turn out, especially with the past Joel had with the owner's daughter.  Things got kind of intense when Joel put the plans in motion.  It was great to see the teamwork that made everything work out at the end.

It was great to see Letty's confidence in herself grow as she learned more about the business.  There were a couple great scenes where that confidence enabled her to stand up to Joel in ways he really didn't expect.  I also liked seeing how Joel finally started to accept that there were things that Letty could do for the business that he couldn't, and that maybe they could end up being perfect partners after all.

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