Saturday, June 7, 2014

Be Mine - Jennifer Crusie, Victoria Dahl, Shannon Stacey (HQN - Jan 2013)

SIZZLE by Jennifer Crusie

Business takes a backseat when successful ad executive Emily Tate meets Richard Parker.  He's an accountant who's been sent to keep her in line and under budget in her ad campaign for a sensual new perfume called Sizzle.  And if Emily's not careful, she could well melt in Richard's hands.

Emily is an ad exec who is very good at what she does, but she does have problems keeping within a budget. The company assigns accountant Richard Parker to keep her under control. Emily calls him Richard the Hun because of his habit of just rolling right over anything she has to say.

Emily doesn't want anyone trying to control what she does. She's determined to do things her way no matter what. She is frustrated because he doesn't listen to what she says about her advertising needs. She is also attracted to him, just as he is to her. I was a bit put off by the way he was coming on to her at work. It felt a bit too much like sexual harassment to me. She said no to going out with him several times before she gave in. Then when they went out, he never listened to what she said, ordering for her at the restaurant, ignoring her when she told him what she wanted. Then later, practically assaulting her, not listening to her when she said stop. Richard was a total jerk through most of the story. He ignored just about everything she said. When she'd get through to him he'd say "sorry" but then go right back to not listening. I'd have hit him with something hard to try to get through. I didn't really feel the relationship between them. Even her "lesson" on listening felt more like a sex scene he sort of liked than an actual lesson, as shown by his actions the next day. He finally got it when her secretary lectured him, and he came through on the advertising campaign, but I hold out no hope that he actually changed. I understand why Jennifer Crusie herself doesn't like this story. From the FAQs on her page: "Can I write to your publisher to request that they publish a reprint Sizzle?
DO NOT ASK FOR A SIZZLE REPRINT. That damn book is following me around the way early porn films follow actresses."

TOO FAST TO FALL by Victoria Dahl
Series: Jackson Hole (Book 1.75)

For Jenny Stone, driving is her escape -- from her past, her problems, her quiet life in Jackson Hole.  But after Deputy Nate Hendricks stops her -- again -- for speeding, she could lose more than just her license.  She could lose her heart.  Nate seems to think that Jenny should replace her love for fast driving with something even more...heart pumping.  And despite her need for speed, Jenny's never been one for defying the law.

I really liked this one. Jenny is a pretty responsible person in everything except her driving. Sometimes she just needs to go out and drive fast. Unfortunately for her, Deputy Nate Hendricks seems to be on that same stretch of the road when she does. So far she's only gotten warnings, but this time he tells her to get to driving school before he stops her again and gives her a ticket that will get her license pulled.

Nate doesn't know why he keeps letting Jenny off, but she gets his motor running. When he makes plans to meet his cousin, he chooses to do it at the saloon where Jenny works. At that point, they connect during something other than a traffic stop and their chemistry is off the charts. Just when things start to get interesting they are interrupted by Jenny's flaky ex-husband.

Jenny feels guilty about the way her marriage ended so she agrees to store some landscaping equipment for him until he can make other arrangements. At the same time Nate discovers that he is involved in some shady business with Nate's cousin's nephew, and fears that Jenny is also involved. When he goes to her house to ask her about her ex, he ends up getting distracted, then sticks his foot in his mouth by questioning her after they'd had sex. 

Nate is torn because he doesn't want to believe she's involved, but it's hard to ignore what he sees. Jenny is hurt by his lack of trust, and does what she does best, which is run. She has to decide if it's time for her to stop running away from her problems and start running toward a chance for happiness. I loved the ending and Nate's really sweet way of grovelling. 

ALONE WITH YOU by Shannon Stacey
Series: Kowalski (Book 6.5)

When waitress Darcy Vaughan's friend asks her to help out with the launch of a fledgling restaurant, she's happy to oblige.  Little does she know the owner is Jake Holland, the perfect guy who slipped through her fingers after their one night of passion.  But for Darcy and Jake, one touch was just not enough.

My favorite of the three stories. Darcy meets Jake at a local bar where she is participating in Trivia Night. Her usual partner isn't there, so Jake is assigned to her. He is passing through on his way to open a restaurant in another town. They connect quickly and have a hot night together. He gets her number and promises to call. Through a series of unfortunate events, the number gets destroyed and he can't call, though he tries hard to find her.

Darcy's boss, Kevin Kowalski, asks her to help his friend set up their new restaurant. She is stunned to discover that the friend is Jake, the guy who got away. She figures that he was just a player and refuses to listen to his excuses. The attraction is still there, but they agree to keep their relationship professional.

This decision gives them a chance to get to know each other without the physical getting in the way. They develop an excellent friendship and working partnership. I really enjoyed the banter between them, especially when it came to the menu items.  The friendship develops into love for both of them, but neither one actually says it. Jake has these great plans running around in his head for Valentine's Day and the grand opening, but doesn't let Darcy in on any of it. All she sees is him talking about how well they've worked together, so she takes her broken heart back home. It takes friends pointing out to them what idiots they're being for them to come to their senses. I loved the ending and how Jake used a trivia contest to show her how he cared.

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