Dante’s Blackmailed Bride

The Perfect Solution

The Twenty-Four Hour Bride

Mr. Strictly Business
by Day Leclaire
(Silh. Desire #1921, $ 4.75, PG-13)  ISBN 0373-76921-0
I can't give this entry in the “Man of the Month” series a recommendation.  Having waited a couple days to write this review, I found myself at a complete loss as to what the book was about.  Mr. Strictly Business is not engaging and totally forgettable.

Catherine Haile and Gabe Piretti worked together in Gabe’s firm until they started a relationship.  Catherine quit and Gabe took care of her.  But Catherine resented the number of hours Gage had to work and one night, she just couldn’t take it anymore.  She left him.

It is now a number of years later, and Catherine is running an event planning business with a silent partner, Dina, who happens to be Gabe’s mom.  Gabe is still running his own successful business, the purpose of which is to buy and sell companies.   Catherine and Dina have run into problems and it appears they are on the verge of bankruptcy.  Catherine goes to Gabe with hat in hand to ask his help in figuring out where the money is going.  Gabe agrees to help her but with terms.  And they are strict.

Gabe will help evaluate the firm’s finances if Catherine moves back into his house and his bed.  He wants to give their relationship one more try.  It is difficult to believe but Catherine agrees and the rest is predictable and lacking in creativity with plot twists seen a mile away.  The antagonist is Gabe’s girl Friday, Roxanne, who actually tried to break them up before.  She is holding out hopes that Gabe will turn to her and she is now desperate when it appears not only is he rejecting her again, but going back to her primary nemesis - Catherine.

The premise is a bit absurd and because of that, many of their actions did not ring true.  I felt like I had read this book many times, but in much better circumstances. The staging of incidents of sabotage was over the top and the secret of who was behind it not even a bit intriguing.

Catherine is a wimp, often whining about the lack of choices she has and then falling for Gabe like she has no mind of her own.  Gabe, meanwhile, acts like a bully and tries to make it look like he just loved her and wanted her back.  Using Catherine’s desperation and then trying to make her feel like she is the one holding back is the behavior of a man insecure in his life and love.  I struggled to like either one of them, which in turn made it difficult to like their story.

The death blow for me was the secret about why Catherine really left Gabe and his mother’s role in the whole thing.  It was not hard to guess and when it was revealed, the secret seemed like just another excuse.  And come on, if a guy can’t trust his own mother, who can he trust? 

Having read Day Leclaire in the past, I was very disappointed in Mr. Strictly Business.  The story is definitely not worth your time and effort. 

--Shirley Lyons 

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