Posted in: AztecLady Reviews
Parker’s Price, by Ann Bruce.
First things first. Reader beware: I received a review copy of this book directly from the author. Further, I’ve reviewed only one other story by Ms Bruce, “Rules of Engagement,” and I liked it—a lot.
A contemporary romance with a hint of suspense and just shy of 200 pages, Parker’s Price is longer than a novella yet still shorter than most novels. One of Carina Press‘ launch titles, this is an ebook only story. Here is the blurb:
She was sexy, smart…and not for sale. But that won’t stop him.
When Parker Quinn is forced to accept an outrageously high bid at a charity auction, she has no choice but to go out with the last man on earth she wants to spend time with. Dean Maxwell may be one of Manhattan’s most eligible bachelors, but he’s also the man who had an affair with her sister and abandoned her when she became pregnant with his child.
Dean doesn’t know why Parker hates him so much, but he’s determined to show Parker the type of man he really is. Whisking her away to a private island in the Bahamas for a sensual, sun-drenched week together, Dean leaves Parker’s preconceptions shattered and her desires inflamed.
But even as their passion reaches irresistible heights, Parker has a decision to make. Can she allow herself to fall for the seductive magnate, or will family secrets and a dangerous ex tear them apart?
Since its release about a month ago, I have read a number of reviews of Parker’s Price, often contradictory (Wendy the Super Librarian thinks Dean is too sexy for words, while Mandi at Smexy Books thinks he’s too alpha). Having read the novel, I have to tend to agree with Wendy, while sorta understanding where Mandi is coming from (I think… please do feel free to correct me in the comments if I’m wrong).
The story begins during the auction mentioned in the blurb. Organized by Parker to benefit a women’s charity, this is an event during which dates with models and staff, both male and female, of the magazine she edits are bid on by attending wealthy members of New York’s high society. Everything is going right on schedule when Tyler Moore, successful attorney, obnoxious sack of ego and recent ex, corners Parker. To her delight, a very attractive man comes to her rescue, pretending to be her date for the evening. Given the mutual sparks flying, she’s counting her lucky stars… until he introduces himself: Dean Maxwell, the man who impregnated and then abandoned her younger sister.
And now, sparks of a different kind fly.
Dean, however, is not going to be so easily thwarted. Not only is he very attracted to Parker, he wants to know why he suddenly turned into the personification of the Black Death as far as she is concerned. Master manipulator that he is, he arranges things so that in a matter of days Parker finds herself flying off to a private island in the Caribbean with him, for a week of rest and se…duction.
Since this is a romance, with a happy ending for the protagonists, it will surprise no one to learn that Dean is not the father of Parker’s niece—though that conversation doesn’t take place until about halfway through the book. Then again, time-wise it’s been less than a week since the auction, and Ms Bruce’s writing is so good that I found myself suspending my disbelief on that point without major effort. (Not so much on the fact that Dean gets Parker on a plane and to the Caribbean without warning—passport, anyone*? [and no, private plane and private island don’t quite solve the issue for me])
But knowing that Dean is not the cavalier philanderer she has believed him to be does not magically solve the issues between Parker and him—or rather, Parker’s issues.
And then there’s the little matter of a vandalized apartment…
The story is intimate, centered on these two people and their interactions, but there are a few, well-written, secondary characters with key roles: Dean’s sister, Vanessa, and her daughter Candy; Parker’s sister Brenda and their mother. Dean’s chauffeur-cum-bodyguard Gordon. Deirdre, Parker’s across the hallway neighbor. Even Tyler, who so easily could have become a two-dimensional cliché, is shown to have depth.
I have to say again that it takes talent to condense a full story into relatively few pages, something that Ms Bruce succeeds at—heck, there’s even an epilogue and it didn’t annoy me (much)!
Parker’s Price gets 8 out of 10
* * * * *
updated to add: Parker’s passport is mentioned, in fact (my mistake entirely). No mention of a visa is made, though–and while it’s entirely possible that no visa is required for citizens of the US to visit any island or nation in the Caribbean, it gave me pause. Mostly, though, the visa issue is symptomatic of my difficulty in believing the feasibility of, essentially, kidnapping someone like that.