Posted in: AztecLady Reviews, New Concepts Publishing, random musings
Published originally in October 2008 in the United Kingdom by Black Lace, Taking Care of Business is being released in the United States on March 31st. I have read some of Ms Dane‘s work (Undercover, reviewed here) but nothing by Ms Hart until now.
I only mention this because during the first few chapters I found myself trying to identify which author had written which section or character. Not a good idea, because as long as I was analyzing the writing I wasn’t being pulled into the story, which is ultimately why I read. Once I stopped the guessing game, the characters and their circumstances grabbed me.
Before we get into the review, the usual warning: this is an adult novel, with adult themes, graphic language and explicit sex scenes. Minors, and any adult objecting to any of these, should avoid reading further, let alone the book itself.
Here is the back cover blurb:
After leaving the wrong man, Leah Griffin’s not ready to look for the right one. All she wants to do is survive the conference she’s planned and spend time with her best friend, Kate Edwards. But she never expected the conference services manager to be so tall, dark and handsome… or so eager to please. It’s Brandon Long’s job to make Leah happy, and after a scorching interlude in her hotel room, neither can deny that business has become pleasure.
Smart, driven and successful attorney Kate Edwards has spent her life making the right choices. Directly counter to those right choices, she’s involved in a long distance, secret love affair with a co-worker. And Charles Dixon is a bad choice she can’t help but make-over and over. A conference and a promotion bring Kate back to Pennsylvania and suddenly Dix wants far more than a few nights in random hotel rooms. He wants something permanent and Kate has to figure out if sometimes a wrong choice is exactly what a woman needs.
Taking Care of Business follows long-time friends Leah and Kate at a pivotal moment in their lives-which happens to coincide with a work conference set up at a hotel just a few blocks from Leah’s house. The novel opens with Leah kicking out her live-in boyfriend, while Kate has just accepted a position a couple of hours away.
Interestingly, Black Lace‘s tagline is “Erotic Fiction for Women,” not romance or erotic romance. Why do I find it interesting? Because while there are two romances in the novel, the way they are written is more about the journey of discovery, by each of these four people, of who they truly are at their core-not who they had decided, at some point in the past, they should be.
Through out the book I enjoyed each character’s internal dialogue, and their growth as they came to terms with their feelings, their needs, their sexuality, as an integral part of their lives. Neither of these two couples enjoys a traditional happy ending with wedding bells and picket fences, but there is a wonderful element of hopefulness that stayed with me after I closed the book.
The novel spans less than three weeks, but manages to cover a surprising amount of ground. From Kate’s “ball busting” professional demeanor to the feminine and sensual woman beneath the lawyer’s clothes to the person willing to be vulnerable; from Leah’s need to give, both sexually and emotionally to her realization that sometimes taking is another way of giving and that control is, at best, an illusion. From Dix’s sexual fascination with Kate to accepting the responsibility of loving her and being loved in return. From Brandon’s reflexive response to Leah to his understanding of what his willingness to please can translate into between two consenting adults.
Ms Hart and Ms Dane do a great job of intertwining a couple of subplots into the main storylines, one involving Leah’s ex and the other involving Dix’s secretary, as well as the general work side of the conference. At a bit under three hundred pages, the novel didn’t feel crowded by too many people or events. Instead, the narrative flowed naturally from one scene to the next.
On the whole, I enjoyed Taking Care of Business quite a bit, except for a teensie little insignificant personal peeve, which got in the way: each time any of the characters-particularly the women-used the c— word for female genitalia, I felt jarred out of the narrative. And since the term was used liberally through out the book… :wince:
My grade for Taking Care of Business, when all is said and done, is 8.25 out of 10.