The Bride Thief

In Over His Head

Red Roses Mean Love

Whirlwind Affair

Whirlwind Wedding

A Sure Thing?
by Jacquie D'Alessandro
(Harl. Tempt. #954, $4.25, R) ISBN 0-373-691-548
Two competitive co-workers who secretly have the hots for one another. Not exactly groundbreaking, but Jacquie D'Alessandro manages to make this couple rise above the usual hate each other, have hot sex, love each other pattern.

The co-workers are Jilly Taylor and Matt Davidson, two ad execs who want to land the same contract. Both of them are too busy trying to make their way to the top at Maxximum Advertising to think about getting involved with anyone, particularly their biggest rival. Matt is gun shy having been duped by his ex-lover, who was also a co-worker and Jilly is tired of controlling men who want her to give up her career.

When their conniving boss tricks them into spending the weekend together at a romantic resort to woo a potential customer, neither Jilly nor Matt is very happy. Close quarters and only one bed soon have them thinking about a lot more than work.

There are two sources of conflict in this story. The first is Matt and Jilly's reluctance to start a relationship with a co-worker. This makes perfect sense and would work fine as conflict. Strangely though, it's barely used and instead the author chooses to focus Jilly's paranoia about dominant men.

After seeing her mother flounder after Jilly's father died, Jilly has vowed never to be put in a position where she can't take care of herself. Her career and independence is very important to her and woe be the man who tries to change her.

On the surface, this doesn't seem like a bad source of conflict, but Matt is not a "take-charge" kind of guy despite Jilly's assertions to the contrary, leaving the conflict deflated. Instead, Jilly comes off shrill and ridiculous, getting her back up over every little thing Matt does for her. For example, she gets all defensive because Matt schedules a facial for her, or gets her milk for her coffee. In the words of her sarcastic friend Kate "That bastard, does his cruelty never end?" Thank heavens for Kate, she says everything the reader is thinking.

Still, Jilly does recognize that she's been so paranoid about avoiding controlling men that she's forgotten the difference between controlling and thoughtful. She does this quickly enough to rebound from TSTL land, but still the whole thing makes for weak conflict. Frankly, there really is no good reason for Matt and Jilly not to get together after their fling, except silliness of their own making.

Being part of the Temptation line, Jilly and Matt of course spend a lot of time having sex. Sex in bed, sex in the shower, sex in the snow, and so on. What sets them apart for other couples is that they also get to know each other outside of bed. There are several scenes where they are shown talking about their families, their lives, their hobbies. They find out they have much in common and can have conversations that don't involve sexual positions. It gives a better foundation to their relationship, making it more realistic.

This helps, because there is also a lot on this book that just doesn't ring true. First off, I can't imagine a professional business man who would willingly trick two co-workers of the opposite sex to share a room, regardless of how big the contract was. That along with the very coincidental good fortune that ends the book is contrived. Apart from that, this title is an acceptable read and fans of the line, and of the Wrong Bed series, should enjoy it.

--Anne Bulin

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