Cinderella’s Millionaire

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The Ultimate Romantic Challenge

 
High Society Mistress
by Katherine Garbera
(Silh. Desire # 1808, $4.75, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-76808-7
**
One of the “Mistresses” series, this High Society Mistress is filled with revenge. The heroine is a “misunderstood” brat who is often depicted as a party girl, does it as a way to “get back at her father” and yet yearns to be taken seriously in the business. The hero is also someone we should feel sorry for, but he has chosen a path of destruction – only wanting to ruin the man he thinks ruined his life. With histories like these, it is no wonder their present lives are so messed up.

Tempest Lambert is the only daughter of retail mogul August Lambert. His company, Tempest’s Closet, is one of those high-end but big scale retail stores that come into a small town and take all the business from local stores. Then they move on to another town. When her mother died, Tempest was sent from boarding school to boarding school, rarely seeing her father. She entered the adult world by flaunting her wealth and her pizzazz, earning her the title of High Society Mistress because of her flamboyance and apparent lack of discretion with lovers. But she really wants to help run Tempest’s Closet and her father is keeping her from what she loves. In fact, he promoted someone else over her to run the PR department and she quit.

So Tempest turns to rival Gavin Renard, one of the Renard brothers who own Renard’s Investments, a company that is hell bent on taking over Tempest’s Closet. She is attracted to him as a man and yet, she knows it would hurt her father if she were to work for his rival. Gavin, meanwhile, hates August Lambert because his company ran his father out of business, leaving them poor and without means. Gavin and his brother Michael vowed to ruin the Lamberts and have spent their adult life seeking revenge that is just around the corner. He has the decency not to hire Tempest, but he still wants her in his bed.

Tempest and Gavin are attracted, so naturally, despite knowing they are enemies, they sleep together and actually convince themselves they can have a relationship that will not be affected by business. How naďve they are.

There were a few pages where I wanted to like this book and root for them to be together. But then would follow many pages where I could not accept that they might be falling for each other when there was no trust and they were in fact, shutting each other out everywhere but between the sheets. How can a realistic romance be built on that today? The author then expected the reader to believe that they were good for each other and their relationship changed the way they lived and felt about life. Even in the end, while Tempest went off to pout, Gavin struggled with how he could give up the revenge so that his life could be filled with Tempest.

Although we saw them briefly, Michael and his girlfriend were likable. I did enjoy some of the interactions between Gavin and Tempest, when they acted like adults…which was mainly when they were in bed. As soon as they started pursuing their feelings or exploring their relationship they lost me again.

I keep asking if the few pages I enjoyed are enough to give a “two heart: be wary” rating versus a “one heart: stay away” warning. My only suggestion would be to decide up front if you really like revenge-turns-to-love stories. That will be the key as to which way you determine if this book deserves your time. For this reader, High Society Mistress was too much revenge and too little love.

--Shirley Lyons


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