STARRED REVIEW
April 16, 2019

Falling in love, on the job

Boss and secretary. Doctor and nurse. Parent and nanny. Romance is filled with stories where the emotionally charged proximity of employer and employee cause hearts to ignite. But falling in love on the job can mean more than flirty innuendo over takeout while pulling an all-nighter, or steamy sex on the conference room table. These terrific new stories are playful and naughty and fun, but they’ve also got surprises up their sleeves.

STARRED REVIEW

Falling in love, on the job

April 16, 2019

Boss and secretary. Doctor and nurse. Parent and nanny. Romance is filled with stories where the emotionally charged proximity of employer and employee cause hearts to ignite. But falling in love on the job can mean more than flirty innuendo over takeout while pulling an all-nighter, or steamy sex on the conference room table. These terrific new stories are playful and naughty and fun, but they’ve also got surprises up their sleeves.

STARRED REVIEW
April 16, 2019

Falling in love, on the job

April 16, 2019

Boss and secretary. Doctor and nurse. Parent and nanny. Romance is filled with stories where the emotionally charged proximity of employer and employee cause hearts to ignite. But falling in love on the job can mean more than flirty innuendo over takeout while pulling an all-nighter, or steamy sex on the conference room table. These terrific new stories are playful and naughty and fun, but they’ve also got surprises up their sleeves.

STARRED REVIEW
April 16, 2019

Falling in love, on the job

Boss and secretary. Doctor and nurse. Parent and nanny. Romance is filled with stories where the emotionally charged proximity of employer and employee cause hearts to ignite. But falling in love on the job can mean more than flirty innuendo over takeout while pulling an all-nighter, or steamy sex on the conference room table. These terrific new stories are playful and naughty and fun, but they’ve also got surprises up their sleeves.

STARRED REVIEW
April 16, 2019

Falling in love, on the job

Boss and secretary. Doctor and nurse. Parent and nanny. Romance is filled with stories where the emotionally charged proximity of employer and employee cause hearts to ignite. But falling in love on the job can mean more than flirty innuendo over takeout while pulling an all-nighter, or steamy sex on the conference room table. These terrific new stories are playful and naughty and fun, but they’ve also got surprises up their sleeves.

April 16, 2019

Falling in love, on the job

Boss and secretary. Doctor and nurse. Parent and nanny. Romance is filled with stories where the emotionally charged proximity of employer and employee cause hearts to ignite. But falling in love on the job can mean more than flirty innuendo over takeout while pulling an all-nighter, or steamy sex on the conference room table. These terrific new stories are playful and naughty and fun, but they’ve also got surprises up their sleeves.

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Boss and secretary. Doctor and nurse. Parent and nanny. Romance is filled with stories where the emotionally charged proximity of employer and employee cause hearts to ignite. But falling in love on the job can mean more than flirty innuendo over takeout while pulling an all-nighter, or steamy sex on the conference room table. These terrific new stories are playful and naughty and fun, but they’ve also got surprises up their sleeves.

Working for Logan Prescott is just about the last thing in the world Claire McKenna, heroine of Jamie Beck’s The Promise of Us, wants. Not only is he the boy-next-door, childhood crush she never quite got over, he’s also the brother of Peyton Prescott, her former bestie who betrayed Claire by stealing her boyfriend, Todd. It doesn’t matter that Todd fled after Peyton was diagnosed with breast cancer. All that matters is making sure her life remains Prescott-free forever and ever, amen. But Logan’s not willing to leave matters like that and tilts the situation in his favor by making Claire an irresistible offer—hiring her to redecorate his apartment, throwing her a financial lifeline to keep her beloved business going. And in the meantime, he throws in a seduction that turns her quiet life upside down.

Claire’s life needs a little rattling. After a traumatic injury during her teens, she’s spent her adulthood playing it stiflingly safe. Logan challenges her in a multitude of ways, though the author is wise enough to show that not all of those challenges pay off. She also plays with the usual expectations by showing that gorgeous, charming Logan is not always nice. He can be manipulative. Calculating. Downright cunning in the right mood and fiercely cutting in the wrong one. When Claire lists her reasons for why they won’t work, they aren’t strawman arguments—they’re real and rational, true challenges for them to overcome in a story where nothing ever seems like a foregone conclusion. Everything feels profoundly realistic, not only in the depth of the conflicts but also in the thorough grounding in the present, with references to current bestsellers, recent natural disasters, even topical man-made tragedies. The injury Claire suffered was from a mass shooting. A refugee crisis is referenced. This might be off-putting for readers seeking an escape from reality, but I think others will find it refreshing to turn the pages and meet people having serious discussions about real issues—as well as serious struggles against real obstacles as they find their way to each other.

“Struggling” is a familiar state to the hero and heroine of Under the Table. Zoey Sullivan is trying to rebuild a new life after the collapse of her marriage, turning a long-time passion for cooking into a semi-steady career as a private caterer. And Tristan Malloy, the very rich, very handsome, very, very shy hero who hires her to cater a small dinner party, is struggling to get out of his beautiful museum of an apartment and figure out a life to lead.

Tristan was raised in a quiet, sheltered Caribbean community by his grandparents who brought him up to have extremely polite, strongly principled and totally ignorant of modern media. The end result is a guy who appears to be “stuck in a time warp of manners, courtesy, and pleated pants.” Not one to avoid hard work, Tristan has come to New York to figure out what comes next. And not one to back away from a challenge, Zoey is determined to help. She takes him shopping for skinny jeans. She brings him to a nightclub. She introduces him to delivery pizza and Guitar Hero. But while she’s playing Pygmalion with Tristan, Zoey is also dealing with her own doubts and insecurities over her separation from her emotionally abusive husband, her mingled love and resentment of her carefree and careless sister/roommate, and her uncertainty about where she belongs.

It’s lovely to read a romance where the characters spend so much time being good to each other and good for each other. They don’t get everything right—there wouldn’t be much of a story if they did—but there’s no fighting just for the sake of building drama. Their intentions nearly always stem from a genuine desire to do what’s decent and honorable, which takes a kind of courage that’s rare and special. And while the ending didn’t have me totally convinced (the revelation of a secondary character’s motives didn’t quite ring true), I still admired the way the heroine made the final decision to confront her problems head-on, having the conversations she needed to have, even if they hurt. Both of the characters struggle throughout the book, but even more than the challenges that arise, you’ll remember the strength they showed in the face of them.

Get the Books

The Promise of Us

The Promise of Us

By Jamie Beck
Montlake
ISBN 9781503905245
Under the Table

Under the Table

By Stephanie Evanovich
William Morrow
ISBN 9780062415929

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