Wednesday, August 21, 2013

TBR Challenge 2013: Training The Receptionist

The Book: Training The Receptionist by Juniper Bell

The Particulars: Erotic romance ménage BDSM novella, #1 in trilogy, Samhain, 2010, Digital Only

Why Was It In Wendy's TBR?:  I picked this up as a free download at the Samhain Publisher Signing at RWA 2012 (in Anaheim). 

The Review: Normally for TBR Challenge day I try to read something out of the print pile, but I'm currently traveling.  And since I had to bring several print books with me for my current stint of contest judging, I was loathe to add yet one more print book to my carry-on luggage.  The Kindle was coming with me anyway, so I looked for something appropriate for this month's theme, and found this novella.  Being a total sucker for boss/secretary stories (I know, I know....), I settled on this one rather quickly. 

And I frackin' loved it.

Dana Arthur lives in "Low-Life Long Island."  She's in her early 20s, getting ready to move into a dumpy apartment on a scary side of town, is single, and is flitting from one job to the next.  Which is how she ends up answering an entry-level receptionist ad for the firm Cowell & Dirk.  Exacting Mr. Cowell is currently out of town on business, which means her training period is being spearheaded by his partner, Simon Dirk.  Simon is demanding and particular about how a receptionist should not only meet the needs of their clients, but also the needs of him and his partner.  Yeah, you guessed it - Mr. Simon Dirk and Mr. Ethan Cowell have very particular ideas on what their receptionist's on-the-job duties should entail - and it's up to Simon to get Dana up to speed.  If that means a little "punishment" for her mistakes?  Well, so be it.  The question is, will Dana be up for the challenge, and now that Simon finds himself drawn to her, will he be willing to share with Ethan?

For those of you who have seen the movie Secretary (with James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal), that's kind of what we have here - except there's way less angst, Dana is not as "damaged" as the Gyllenhaal character, and there's the ménage angle.

I was sucked into this story right away thanks to the first-person narration.  I love first-person.  I want to have babies with first-person.  And certainly Dana is a great character.  I love that she's not standard issue romance heroine.  I love that she's got a little edge to her.  I love that she doesn't have her life planned out perfectly and she's sort of half-assing a lot of things.  She acts like a young woman in her early 20s.  She likes to party, she likes tattoos, she hates to be bored.  And certainly this new job?  Not boring. 

I have stated many times, publicly, that I am over BDSM.  Yeah, I lied.  Turns out I'm not over BDSM when it's written well - and it's written well here.  Dana is the sub (and yes, I've also publicly stated I'm over female subs), but I never felt like she wasn't in control.  Dana has choices in this story.  She has power.  Simon may be asking her to do things, he may even be "punishing" her - but she has the choice to walk away.  She has the choice to tell him no.  She doesn't want to.  And she never acts like some mealy-mouthed, innocent, brain-dead ninny that needs protecting and coddling.  Dana is in this situation because she wants to be there and she can walk away at any time.  Bliss!

This is a novella and it certainly does subscribe to the Erotic As Fantasy school of plotting.  As the reader you need to let go and just enjoy the ride.  You also need to be aware (I wasn't going into it!) that this is actually the first novella in a trilogy and yes the next two entries follow the same three characters.  Which means this month's TBR Challenge was completely counterproductive for me.  Yeah, this one is off the pile, but I immediately went out and bought the next two. 

And I'm currently holding myself back from immediately buying everything else Bell has written.


Final Grade = B+


ClaudiaGC said...

It's nice to see someone else admitting to also loving the boss/secretary plot. ;)
I like this series, too. Even though Dana is the sub she's pretty sassy and made me laugh out loud several times. I think this series would disturb some HR staff members with what's going on in this office. ;) Go, read the next two parts! I want to know what you think about them.
I'm also all 'bdsm-ed out' but I think this story worked for me because there is not one mention of a club or dungeon. I'm so bored of BDSM club stories.
Sadly, this author hasn't an extremely extensive backlist but I enjoyed her few other books, too.

Kwana said...

Dang it! I do NOT need to buy a book but I so want to buy this one now. I too adore good 1st person. Thanks for this review. Drats blang it!

nath said...

Sounds really good! :)

Wendy said...

Claudia: I know I shouldn't, but I can't help myself. I LOVE boss/secretary stories! I bought the next two parts and hope to read them soon. Have to get through the last of my contest judging and catch up on review books. And A-frickin'-Men on being bored with BDSM club stories.

Kwana: It's good first person. You should buy it. Hey, it's only a novella! A quick read - says Wendy who isn't helping at all :)

Nath: I really enjoyed it - and naturally went out and purchased next two installments. So much for whittling down the TBR....