Elizabeth Harbison's trademark sparkle and wit is back in fine form with Plain Jane Marries the Boss. The title pretty much sums up the story, but don't be fooled into thinking this will a lackluster read. This Jane can stand up to anyone.
Jane Miller loves her job as executive assistant to Terrence Breckenridge III, owner of a struggling construction company. She's secretly admired Trey for five years, but he's never taken notice of his rather mousy-looking assistant, though he's extremely appreciative of her work. All that changes when Trey's father arrives in town, hinting he'll turn control of the company over to Trey if Trey shows signs of "settling down."
But Trey's latest girlfriend has just dumped him for a richer man. So, as he usually does when he's in a pinch, Trey turns to Jane. Will she pose as his fiancée long enough to get Dad to transfer his shares?
Jane is a little leery of this setup. After all, deceiving Trey's father falls outside her normal ethical range. But Jane also knows the problems Dad has caused by trying to control the company from afar. There's a big contract in the works that could put the company on solid financial ground for good. If Dad steps in to muck things up again, the company could go belly-up. So Jane agrees to help out.
This premise has been used in the past, numerous times. What saves Plain Jane from mediocrity is the dialogue between Trey and Jane. These are two people acting exactly like I'd imagine them to act if caught in this situation. Trey is taken aback when he sees Jane outside of the normal office surroundings. He never knew she'd dress like I>that! Jane is no slouch when it comes to a tart reply. Nor does she hesitate to let him know exactly what she thinks, now that the blinders are off and she's free to do so. But her "plain-looks" insecurities must be overcome, and Trey must realize that he really wants a woman with a solid core, not just a flashy exterior.
The only thing that had me wondering a bit was the idea that Jane would have been pining for this guy for five years. The phrase "get a life, already" entered my head, I admit it. It didn't seem to fit with the Jane we get to know in the course of the story. Of course, an ugly-duckling romance works best when the main characters undergo a character makeover, and Jane certainly did that.
Plain Jane Marries the Boss is a wonderfully lighthearted romance for a winter's night. Check it out while you can still find it.