Here's the deal--while I cheerfully admit I read and like romance novels, I'm not a big fan of contemporary romance and even less a fan of category romance. That section of the genre exists in the same mental space I use for fashion magazines and home decorating blogs. Oh, so you mean there are women who are 5'10" and a size 4 and wear a $375 dollar dress while the tide rushes in and splashes their legs in an artistic manner? Okay, your fantasy, you do what you want! Hot sexy men who want a commitment falling for ordinary women ? Your fictions do not bear a resemblance to my life, whatevs!
I lack aspiration in so many ways.
But back to the book. Why is it so interesting and what makes it a good read? Yes, there's hot sex. It's a Harlequin Blaze title. But there's also accounting, and a female character with an interesting personal dilemma, some humor and a romance that you can believe in.
Dane Weiss and Keeley Davis don't know each other, but both get pulled into a secret, off-the-books investigation at Bingham Brothers. Dane is a protege of Charles "Binky" Bingham, a charming roue who should be in his oatmeal years, but is still a hands on manager of his family firm. Binky is also fond of strippers and targeted for retirement by his priggish grandson who cannot wait to get his hands on evidence that Binky's incompetent. Keeley has mad forensic accounting skills and is enticed to help by her friend Sugar, Binky's latest girlfriend. Oh, and how does Keely know Sugar? She used to dance at the same strip club under the name Cherry Tarte. Matter of fact, because of her dancing days Keeley is the go-to accountant for Chicago's exotic dancers (hey, you can deduct your makeup, but not your boobs, and keeping track of receipts is very important!)
Right, so the idea is Dane will go into Bingham Brothers as the new controller, and Keeley will pretend to be his secretary because no one would expect the female secretary to be able to examine the books in minute detail. Keeley knows this role will require her to play down her intelligence and competance, but it's her own perverse notion to play with people's expectations by donning Cherry's red wig and lucite sparkly heels, left over from her stripper days. Dane already fancied Keeley in her business suit and bun, and well, who wouldn't be attracted to a tall redhead in her stripper garb while she gives off a "I like you/No, not interested" vibe. Their relationship is believable and enjoyable, since they have a lot in common besides the sex and levels of extreme hotness--devotion to family, belief in hard work, sharp minds.
And seeing how Keeley manages to reconcile and integrate her past with the person she's become, who is indeed the woman she's always been-- a combination of sharp accountant and flashy dancer-- is a pleasure. I'm a sucker for an integration tale. I think it's my favorite theme of personal growth.
Another point of interest--her bio indicates Marie Donovan is a Chicago area librarian, so I have this "yes! kickass librarian" good vibe thing going for her work. She's definitely one to keep an eye on.