Wow - no bells, whistles, dogs, ponies, smoke or mirrors - just a nicely-written, very romantic romance. I zoomed through this deceptively uncomplicated book in one sitting.
One day, Celia Tuttle is receiving the usual early morning instructions from her boss, Aaron Bravo (“CEO of one of Las Vegas’s top super-casinos”) when she suddenly realizes she’s in love with him. She’s known him most of her life, worked for him for three years, and respects and admires him. Falling in love with him is bound to send everything straight to Hades in a handcart.
Suddenly she’s hyper-aware of casual touches he doesn’t even seem to notice, of how he smells, the shape of his ears. Also the fact that part of her job is to buy “thoughtful gifts and expensive trinkets” for the women he’s involved with (although, to his credit, apparently only ever one at a time). He always gives them diamonds when the relationship ends and, sooner or later, they all get diamonds.
Celia hopes she’ll get over her feelings - soon - but after a week she’s on the verge of leaving the job she loves; it’s too awful feeling this way about a man who sees her as an invaluable piece of office equipment. Before she can give notice, however, her friends persuade her that she must tell him. How can she write off both man and job without even trying to find out if there’s a chance he might reciprocate? She gathers up her courage, she confesses, and it’s awful. Aaron tries to be kind, but it’s clear he doesn’t think of her that way. He doesn’t want to lose a great assistant, though, so he persuades her not to quit, hoping she can work past her feelings.
This is one of those all-too-rare books with the courage of its convictions. There really isn’t anything in it except the developing relationship, and I was engaged by it every moment, largely because Celia and Aaron are two of the most believable characters I’ve read in a long time. I could readily accept Celia’s insecurities, admire her courage, and applaud her for not being a pushover while she dealt with the differential between her feelings and his.
I also very much appreciated the novelty of a character who was consistently honest and true to herself, no matter how difficult it was. The result was a story blessedly driven by Celia’s actions rather than by whining and prevarication. There are no misunderstandings, big or small, in this book. Thank you, Ms. Rimmer.
Aaron came through as a decent guy and I had confidence he’d turn out to be a hero - even when I was exasperated with his all-too-realistic complacency as he let Celia do all the running. In fact, I found everyone’s actions and motivations convincing, the dialogue realistic, and the situation one I could believe.
The relationship changes and develops at a credible pace and, just to keep things interesting, at a different speed and for different reasons with both characters.
The end result was an involving romantic fantasy that had two of my very favorite qualities - the feeling that it could actually happen to real people in the real world, and grownups behaving with integrity who were rewarded with a happy ending. Maybe it’s just me, but I find a special satisfaction in situations where people win because they’ve earned it.
For a purely romantic escape, unencumbered by clichés and hackneyed romantic conventions, I can recommend this book without hesitation.