Beauty and the Boss
by Lucy Gordon
(Harl. Romance #416, $3.50, PG) ISBN 0-373-03548-9
****
As assistant publicity director for Orchid Cosmetics, Delia Summers' access to the world's finest beauty products only enhanced her natural attributes. She is drop-dead gorgeous and for all of her 24 years, Delia has been able to trade on her looks. Men, from her father to would-be suitors to the local traffic cop, all have been putty in her hands. But her mother had warned Delia the day would come when she would meet a man who was immune to her charms.

One evening, when the self-absorbed Delia's mind iss focused more on herself than her driving, she has an accident. She injures businessman Craig Locksley's guide dog, Jenny. For seven years, Jenny has been Craig's eyes and his close friend. Delia is both mortified and guilt-ridden. She has to find a way to make things right.

"Whatever her mistakes she'd always been able to win swift forgiveness. But not from this man. Her beauty, the magic talisman she'd always relied on, meant nothing to him."

Nothing Delia attempts appeases Craig. He refuses to accept either her apologies or her offers to pay for Jenny's medical care. Craig "sees' Delia as shallow and unhappy and castigates her about the "superficial appearance of beauty." She is shaken by his assessment of her.

Craig Locksley is a dark, brooding man who, despite what Delia calls his "all-seeing inner eye," had been blinded both without and within. His beautiful wife left him after the accident that took his sight. He has had to fight for acceptance in the business world and for custody of his preteen daughter, Alison. Like Delia uses her looks, Craig is able to use his blindness to gain the upper hand in business.

Jenny's physical injuries heal, but the accident leaves her psychologically damaged. Her confidence has been shattered and she is afraid to accompany Craig in traffic. Jenny will have to go back to guide dog school for retraining. When Alison refuses to leave her father to attend camp for a few weeks, guilt-ridden Delia volunteers to help Craig out at home after work at the cosmetics company. Begrudgingly, he accepts her offer and the two are thrown into a living arrangement than encourages their mutual attraction.

Beauty and the Boss is the fourth novel in Harlequin Romance's "Marrying the Boss" series. Lucy Gordon has crafted a strong story about confidence, second chances and the relationship between fathers and daughters. The main characters are incredibly well-drawn and the reader witnesses not only the development of their romance but their redefinition as people. Delia brings light to Craig's dark world. Craig brings depth into the shallowness of hers.

The secondary characters add needed shading to the novel, although Alison often seems too good and too mature for her years. The writing is tight and Gordon has economically paced her story of several months in the characters' lives into less than 200 pages.

Several weeks ago, I reviewed another Lucy Gordon novel, Be My Girl! It was a delightful story with subtle touches of British humor. Beauty and the Boss shows another facet of the author's range. I strongly recommend it.

--Gwendolyn Osborne


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