Catching the Corporate Playboy
by Michele Dunaway
(Harl. American #931, $4.75, PG) 0-373-16931-0
Cameron O'Brien and Lee Reinhart, friends since college, love to challenge each other with elaborate bets. Cameron is in St. Louis to oversee the purchase of a local newspaper for his family's publication conglomerate. Lee runs the newspaper and the two of them arrive at a local diner early in the morning after watching the printing of the next edition. Cameron is not impressed with the diner or with the clumsy waitress.

Darci Sanders is working at the diner to prove to her Grandpa Joe that she has the determination needed for an executive position. The diner was Joe's first location, but the company expanded over the years into a variety of restaurant ventures, including upscale locations. Darci has a high-powered business degree and wants to use it in the company. If working for two weeks as a waitress convinces her grandpa that she has the strength to move up, she's ready to do it.

Darci overhears Lee bet Cameron that Cameron cannot take a woman of Lee's choice and, without her knowing about the bet, teach her to handle New York society and Cameron's family. When Lee chooses their waitress, Darci, she is furious. She had been the subject of a cruel bet by some of her classmates when she was in high school and she has never forgotten it. She decides to fool Cameron by going along with him and then teach him a lesson at the end.

This “My Fair Lady” story with several twists is actually humorous and touching. Cameron is a bit of a snob and Darci does manage to tweak him quite a bit by pretending to be a working class woman. She lets him assume several things that lead him to think the worst of her background. Cameron, whose name was on a recent list of most eligible bachelors, is not into commitment, but finds he enjoys Darci's company and the simple activities they do. He even helps her overcome the bad feelings she has over the high school bet. Darci begins to care about him, but knows that when he discovers who she is, he won't be happy with her.

As the twists continue, the two are more and more attached to each other, but they also don't trust each other. Each knows the other is up to something. Well-meaning family and friends see the attraction between the two and try to help, not knowing about the deceptions. A few of the situations and coincidences strained reality a bit, but not enough to lessen my enjoyment of the story.

The author does know St. Louis. Her descriptions of the area and of the people ring very true. She even knows that the best thing to order at Dressel's Welsh Pub is the stockpot!

--B. Kathy Leitle

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