The Boss's Demand
by Jennifer Lewis
(Silh. Desire # 1812, $4.75, R) ISBN 0-373-76812-5
In romance books, the alpha male is often the hero and much of the time his strong attributes make him more attractive than most. Many women have visions of being swept off their feet by just such a male. There is a fine line between attractiveness and sexy posturing and domination and arrogance. In The Boss's Demand, the line has been crossed.

Sara Daly is a young woman ready to assert her independence. She has just finished college and has debt from that, along with medical bills that she is helping to pay off from her motherís long illness. Her family lives in Wisconsin and she has come to Nevada to work for an up and coming oil company owned by Elan Al Mansur. She has been hired to be his Executive Assistant and Project Manager. Sara rides a bike to save money and lives in a rather dumpy apartment to save on rent. She is determined to succeed. But she inadvertently overhears her boss tell the Human Resources person that she must be fired because she is too young. He only wants older women working alongside him, since every other young one has been a problem trying to get him to marry them. Sara is outraged and confronts him, forcing him to back down and giving her a month to prove she is not like the others.

Elan Al Mansur is from Oman, and was raised by a father who slowly stripped him of his ability to love others. He ensured, through often cruel means, that Elan and his two brothers grew up believing that love and caring equated to weakness. Elan has become an American to get away from that type of oppressive atmosphere. But he is emotionally wrecked and doesnít think he can ever love anyone because of his upbringing.

Of course, Sara is extremely competent and shows Elan she is smart and an asset to his company. She also fights her feelings of attraction every time she is near him. Elan, on the other hand, is also attracted. He sees Sara as a lady who is unlike the others and he finds himself seeking her out and wanting to be with her. One night, in the desert, they succumb to their feelings. They use a condom, but it is ineffective. After that night, Elan tells Sara that they must forget this ever happened, taking full responsibility. Sara is guilty, feeling she failed him. Elan actually starts adding to her workload in an effort to get her to throw in the towel. Then Sara discovers she is pregnant. And Elan begins demanding that they marry.

Sara fights him, having watched her parents in a marriage that was not based on love. The rest of the story revolves around who will win the battle - Sara, who wants to raise her child alone, or Elan, who demands they marry and Sara allow him to take care of her and the child.

From the first, Elan's arrogance seemed to be over the top. Yet, he was ruled by his passions. He and Sara both just could not stop thinking sexually about the other. This lack of impulse control was a turn off for me. Reading this was like reading about two hormone intensive teenagers, not two mature intelligent adults. The sexual tension is high and the writing is almost too lyrical for realism.

Take this for example, following her effort to convince him she could be independent and him beginning to seduce her to his way of thinking: "An array of sparklers rained down as her skin sizzled with the heat of passion. Every inch of her felt alive with joy, with sweet wonder at the thrill of making love to Elan."

When I put the book down in the middle of a major love scene and didnít feel the need to pick it up again to see what happened, I knew that The Boss's Demand was not the book for me.

--Shirley Lyons

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