by Stephanie Bond, contemporary (2000)
Harlequin Temptation, $3.99, ISBN 0-373-25869-0
Jack Stillman is a former high school jock who is trying hard to grow up. It isn't easy. When his responsible, no-nonsense brother left for his honeymoon, Jack is left in charge of their ad firm Stillman & Sons Advertising Agency. When the IRS agent arrives, Jack, already caught ogling at an old copy of Playboy and looking like something the cat dragged in after a fight with Bruno the bulldog, tells the sassy beautiful woman that the company is on the verge of bankruptcy. Smart huh?
Not smart at all, when he realizes that she isn't the IRS agent, but the chief marketing officer of Tremont Department Stores. The contract Stillman & Sons has with Tremont will make or break the ad firm, and Jack now has to scramble to win back the boss' daughter's good favors.
Now, this story is funny. I like it. The author does the glass ceiling too well. As a woman who has worked in a male-dominated workplace, I am more than familiar with male camaraderie that excludes women, and this is what even the boss' daughter Alex has to face from her father and colleagues. Jack doesn't hesitate to use his gender to his advantage.
While the secondary characters are deliciously funny - Tuesday the Secretary and Personal Assistant from Hell, the obligatory Adventurous Best Friend of Alex called Lana, for instance - I get frustrated after a while with Alex's inability to keep up with Jack. She is in a constant state of high-strung perplexity as Jack relentlessly and repeatedly pulls the rug from under her feet. Finally, she falls in love. I think it must be due to the exhaustion of not being able to catch up.
The end seals the doom of what could have otherwise been a keeper for me. Alex's own father emotionally manipulates her, and for me, that is one too many manipulations of Alex I can take without feeling ill. I feel sad for her, pity even. And when she declares that Alex and her father are two best men ever, excuse me while I run to the toilet and throw up.
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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