Monday, April 13, 2009

We'll Leave A Light On For You

I don't know a reader alive who isn't hesitant when it comes to collaborative novels. My fear is that the seams will show. Author "voice" is a delicate, often times elusive, matter. Working with another writer and having to "blend" your "voices?" Not easy. However Megan Hart and Lauren Dane pull it off for a marvelous effect in their first book for Black Lace, Taking Care Of Business.

Leah Griffin is the head of Allied Packaging's HR department. It's her job to make sure their upcoming conference goes off without a hitch. Frankly, the conference couldn't have come at a better time. She's just ordered her douchebag boyfriend to get the hell out of her life and out of her house. In her words, "Their games of dominance and submission had become nothing more than an excuse for him to act like an asshole." Then she meets very tall, dark and handsome Brandon Long, who just so happens to be her go-to contact man on the hotel staff. Pretty soon this slightly older woman and younger man are setting off fireworks.

Leah's BFF, Kate Edwards, is also at the hotel to attend the conference. She's an upwardly mobile corporate lawyer who is working for Allied as a consultant. She is also having a hot and heavy affair with Allied's in-house counsel Charles "Dix" Dixon. Kate is very leery of mixing business and pleasure, but Dix has a way of turning her brain and knees to mush. What will he say when he finds out she's gotten a job transfer to Philadelphia? That she'll literally be living in his back yard? Will that put an end to their smokin' hot affair?

This is a fun, quick read - and so very different in tone and style from Hart's heavier, emotionally messy, work for Harlequin Spice. I literally plowed through this in an afternoon. First, Hart and Dane work quite well together and even though the story jumps back and forth between Leah/Brandon and Kate/Dix it blends pretty seamlessly. I've never read Dane before, and thought I "knew" Hart's writing - so imagine my surprise when I went to Hart's web site and found out that the couple I thought she wrote was actually Dane's doing.


Go Team Wendy.

There's enough conflict here to keep the story from being "all about sex" - and I appreciated that it wasn't a non-stop boink-fest, even though there is plenty of steamy stuff to go around. I also liked the inclusion of female friendship in the story. Romance novels are written primarily for a female readership, so it's interesting we don't see more "female friendships" on display in the genre. Hart and Dane get it right here. Two women who are candid, frank, and drop the F-bomb almost as much as I do. There's an affection there, and a real caring.

I will say that the Leah/Brandon story was my favorite - mostly because I was half in love with Brandon from the moment the author(s) introduce him. My absolute favorite type of hero - the genuinely nice guy who has been badly burned in the past, but is totally smitten with the heroine. Loved, loved, loved this guy! I also liked the fact that a Kate/Dix storyline featured some "real" believable conflict in the form of the Dix's previous marriage and two teenage daughters. Don't worry - they don't overrun the story (thank you baby Jesus!), but this bit of conflict was a nice touch and worked quite well.

This wasn't quite a Gushing-I'm-Madly-In-Love type of book for me, but I still enjoyed it quite a bit. I literally plowed through it in a couple of hours, and given my terminally slow reading nature, that's saying something. A fine collaborative effort and goody-goody - looks like a sequel is in the works.

Final Grade = B


CindyS said...

Okay, not on topic but I just saw what book you are reading. Can't wait to see what you think! I have to say I loved it. Baby and all.


Stacy~ said...

Great review. I'm a huge fan of Megan's work, and this one is on my tbb list.

Wendy said...

Cindy: I promised Kristie I'd read Ride The Fire before RWA. One less book for her to nag me about - LOL. I'm about 80 pages into it. Hope to get more read today.

Stacy: I liked how "fun" this book was. I adore Megan's work for Spice, but it does tend to be a little heavy. I like "heavy" - but I also like "fun" - and this story was a great way to spend an afternoon.

Mad said...

Wendy, I was iffy on who wrote which couple until I got to a part where one of the secondary characters said "sure thing, dingaling" and I knew it was Megan's writing. Want to know how I knew? She once said the same exact phrase to me in an email. ROFL

azteclady said...

Yay and yes and agreeing all the way through!


Kati said...

Then she meets very tall, dark and handsome Brandon Long, who just so happens to be her go-to contact man on the hotel staff. Wait...a straight man employed by a hotel's conference services staff? Heh. Not possible. Believe me, I've spent the better part of 10 years looking for my tall, dark, handsome go-to contact at ANY hotel.

Sounds like a fun book, Wendy, terrific review!

AuthorM said...

Thanks, Wendy! I have to laugh at all the folks trying to "figure out" who wrote which couple...we never kept it secret! LOL!!!

Glad you enjoyed it. TCOB was a heckuva lot of fun to write and I'm glad it was fun to read, too!



Wendy said...

Mad and AL: I liked this one a lot. A quick, fun read.

Kati: Well, it is fiction - LOL.

Megan: I purposely did not want to know who wrote which parts until after I finished the book. I didn't want to be unconsciously swayed one way or another because I'm more familiar with your work than I am with Lauren's. Actually, it was great fun to read the book that way - which is why I didn't divulge the answer in my review :-)

Tracy said...

This looks great and I would definitely be interested to read something that Hart has done that's not incredibly emotional. Thanks for the heads up, Wendy.

Lori said...

I have this one, but I'm not reading it till my cruise. I think I'll just shock the hell out of my mom, LMAO!!!

Wendy said...

Tracy: I adore Hart's Spice novels, but yeah - they're pretty "heavy." And sometimes I just want a quick, fun read without having to wade through a bunch of a emotional goo-gah. This book fits the bill perfectly.

Lori: Ooooh, this would make a great vacation read! Yes, yes - save it for your cruise.