I've read a number of Lauren Dane's novels and have always liked her voice, both in her paranormal, and contemporary work. Megan Hart is new to me, although I do have "Stranger", in my TBR. I found their combined voices in this novel to be wonderful. I got to know these characters easily and despite the strong personalities of the men and women I could sense their vulnerabilities and angst in taking tentative first steps in new relationships. I have to say the dry wit and clever verbal sparring, particularly between "Kate and Dix", and certainly some of the sarcasm, had me laughing out loud.
taking care of business
The setting for this story is in a hotel in Philadelphia where Human Resources Director Leah Griffin has organized a conference for her company's managers. Leah's closest friend, Kate Edwards, a successful, driven attorney, is attending providing legal advice for the company.
Leah and Kate are lifelong best friends who share their most intimate and naughty secrets without fear of reproach. They also instinctively know when it's time to back off and allow time for painful experiences to be internalized before they are spoken aloud. I really like books that have a theme involving friendship between women. I think it gives more reader insight into their personalities and depth to the characters.
Leah has just ended an 18-month relationship with a rather immature, unpleasant and demanding man, Mike. She has been unhappy and dissatisfied with her personal life for a long time, unable to achieve sexual satisfaction during the majority of the intimate relationships of her life. I could feel her frustration welling up from the pages. Kate knows what her friend needs in a relationship, however Leah is unable to admit it to herself.
Kate has been enjoying an exciting sporadic sexual liaison with Charles "Dix" Dixon, the head of the legal team for Leah's employer. Kate or "Katherine" as she is known in professional circles is brilliant, has a razor sharp tongue and is ruthless, a top-notch attorney. I loved this character; basically she takes no prisoners in the "boardroom". However, "Kate", has a vulnerable side with respect to her personal life having been burned at the stake early on in her career related to an intimate relationship with a colleague. Needless to say she is very reluctant with respect to entering into a more committed relationship with Dix.
Leah, meets Conference Services Manager, Brandon Long, a mature younger man originally from Iowa, for whom she instantly feels an attraction. While she initially dismisses him, because of his youth she soon learns she was sorely mistaken and finds he has a strength of personality, integrity, and is sexually experienced. At the beginning of the book Leah is somewhat unpleasant with Brandon because of her relationship history and emotional conflicts, making it difficult for a reader to like her. However, as Brandon responds to Leah as a female dominant and her insecurities are laid bare, I at first empathized and then began to like her.
Dix is a 40 something divorcée who is a supportive and involved father of two teenage girls. Dix is sexually obsessed with Kate, ruminating about her constantly. He wants a more committed relationship but she puts up innumerable roadblocks. Kate and Dix are both tough, evenly matched career attorneys, the fireworks between these two just blazed off the pages sexually and during intense arguments leading to even hotter sex. Kate's soft side is revealed in the bedroom under Dix's "very experienced" ministrations.
I was struck by what I can only describe as intense verbal "foreplay" between both couples, the non-verbal nuances, and the intensity of their sexual encounters. The sensual prose, I thought was outstanding.
We have to have the conflict between lovers and trust me there is a truckload that arises between Leah and Brandon, and Kate and Dix. I was really squirming wondering how the authors were going to resolve the issues between these lovers and bring them together, especially Leah and Brandon. However, at the end of the day, Ms. Hart and Ms. Dane did not disappoint.
I will look forward to reading more of Megan Hart's and Lauren Dane's work.