Noah & the Stork

Emmy and the Boss
by Penny McCusker
(Harl American #1196, $4.99, PG) ISBN 0373-75200-8
Emmy and the Boss is one of those stories that are enjoyed while in the moment but slip your mind as soon as one is finished. There is nothing earth shattering here, but it is a nice little romance all the same.

Nick Porter has inherited his father's business and vows to run it better than he did. His father was a hard man who never fully trusted Nick to take responsibility. After his father died unexpectedly, Nick put his dreams on hold to take over. Sadly, this little business that makes novelty toys and is meant to help kids have fun, is about to go bankrupt. Nickís bank forces him to hire help, and they won't give him a loan without a plan of action to turn things around.

Emmy Jones is a person known for planning, organization and near-rigidity. She grew up in foster homes where the more you fit in, the less hassle and despair you were dealt. She is good at her job, so good, in fact, that she runs her own business. She is used to the employees despising her, but she isnít used to the boss fighting her along the way too.

Nick needs to get a plan out of Emmy in order to get the bank off his back and then get on with the ideas he has to turn things around. Nick has known his employees forever and has a hard time being the bad guy. He also doesnít see that some of the staple toys of the company have gone the way of the ages and that it is time to diversify and update the toy selection. Emmy clearly sees that, along with the need to update the lines and modernize the production methods. The stage is set for conflict.

But what Nick doesn't expect is to be so blatantly attracted to the little efficiency expert, nor does he expect to find her so appealing, both on and off the job. Emmy has boundary issues, but at the same time, sees in Nick something she has rarely seen in a man. She senses a kinship and willingness to trust. She is definitely attracted too.

The story is simple and moves along at a reliable pace with generally unsurprising events and conflicts that can be seen from miles away. Nick and Emmy keep things interesting. They actually have some depth and familiarity that makes the reader feel they know these two and we want them to find their happiness. Nick cajoles and has lighthearted fun and Emmy pushes back and seeks to slow things down. Yet, there they are, enjoying their nights as well as their days.

Nick did act a bit of the overbearing know-it-all at times, particularly in the area of thinking Emmy needed to confront her past before she could enjoy a future with him. Sadly he needed the same thing but didn't see it. To do this, he finds all her old foster parents and siblings and slowly had them coming back into her life. This not so happy reminiscing sends her for a loop. And it took Nick a while to realize that this was not necessarily a good thing for Emmy. Luckily he redeems himself, but he came close to losing my respect.

For an unremarkable yet basically enjoyable story, Emmy and The Boss will fit the bill.

--Shirley Lyons

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