“Of all the barrooms in the world, he had to walk into mine!” Venus Messina wasn’t about to believe what Mr. Uptight and Proper had just said: “What if I told you that you could be the long-lost granddaughter of a millionaire?” Yeah, like that was ever gonna happen. But she decided to listen to him anyway, and just days later, she was on her way to Atlanta to meet her supposed grandfather. Her father had never known she existed, her mother had died when she was a little girl, and Venus knew she’d been lucky to grow up in a large and loving foster family. But money was still tight; eight months ago she’d lost her job when she ended her affair with a company executive. The money she was being paid to visit Max Longotti and figure out if he was or wasn’t her grandfather would go a long way to helping her foster mother catch up with the bills.
Troy Langtree has just started working for Max, getting to know his company before Max sells it to the Langtrees. Max’s catalog company and the Langtrees’ chain of department stores seem to be a perfect match, and it’s Troy’s job to make sure of it.
Both Troy and Venus have been out of the dating scene for a while when they meet and fall into scorchingly hot lust at first sight, before they’ve even exchanged names. But once they do find out who the other is, things get real complex real fast. Troy doesn’t want to pounce on Max’s potential granddaughter, and the last man Venus wants is another top level executive in an imported suit. However, lust as intense as theirs is hard to ignore.
And things are going well between Max and Venus as well. They are both starting to think that there might be a happy ending for them when Leo Gallagher, who started it all, rears his manipulative head again. He has more of an agenda than he’s revealed to either of them, and begins to really muddy the waters in a continuing effort to force the resolution that will give him what he wants.
Neither the plot nor the characters are all that realistic, but they are fun, and Leslie Kelly manages to pull the whole thing off. She provides, in addition to searingly hot sex scenes, lots of chances for her characters to laugh at themselves. Venus’s favorite t-shirt is one of Jessica Rabbit showing off her figure that closely resembles Venus’s, and saying “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way.” Troy is an identical twin (his brother Trent’s story is in Kelly’s Two to Tangle) which also presents situations that inspire a smile or two.
However, I do have a quibble to mention. When Troy and Venus meet, she’s just gotten off the plane and is sitting on the balcony of Max’s office, waiting to meet him. There’s no indication that she’s had time to change clothes since she got off the plane, and is wearing the tight, cropped t-shirt tank top described above, micromini cutoffs, and sexy sandals. This is how she gets on a plane planning to meet her possible grandfather who is very much upper class? Even if she is working class, even if she doesn’t care what kind of impression she makes, and even if she’s used to having a body that makes men drool and fall all over themselves (Oh, please!) that outfit is carrying things too far.
But if you can get past that and the fairly predictable plot, the amusing characters and dialogue and the steamy sex scenes will keep you turning the pages. I went looking for Two to Tangle and Into the Fire (Venus’s first appearance) as soon as I finished it. I’m looking forward to the stories of the other members of the Bad Girls Club, Brazen and Burning by Julie E. Leto and Red-Hot and Reckless by Tori Carrington.
--Joni Richards Bodart