Monday, February 11, 2008

Lawyers in Love

Seduce Me
By Carly Phillips

This contemporary is a reissue of Phillips’ 2001 Harlequin Romance Erotic Invitation. It’s a fairly typical “devastatingly handsome alpha male discovers smart, sexy heroine beneath bun and glasses” story, but the author has created enjoyable characters with enough depth to give this book a little more substance than a standard category romance.

Brainy Mallory Sinclair is determined to make partner at her prestigious law firm, a bastion of “old boy” clubishness. To that end, she adopts the bun, glasses, and boxy suits that hide as much of her femininity as possible, and is all business, all the time when at the office. However, she secretly lusts over Jack “The Terminator” Latham, the firm’s top divorce attorney, who specializes in terminating marriages with the most favorable financial outcome for his clients. Having grown up watching his parents’ highly dysfunctional marriage, Jack holds no illusions about true love and has no desire to settle down – ever. Every female employee in the firm harbors the belief that all it would take to change his mind is the right woman, and that she is that woman. The only one who doesn’t believe she will be the one to turn his head is Mallory. It seems she has spent her life being not quite good enough for her parents, and thus has a pretty low opinion of her own self worth. And so, her unrequited lust for Jack would have remained just that, if it weren’t for The Really Important Client.

The Really Important Client, one Paul Lederman, has quite a few businesses to manage and one wife that he would like to be rid of. He has summoned Jack to his resort to determine whether or not he wants to retain him as his divorce lawyer. Knowing other firms would love to get Lederman’s business, and that having a woman on the team would be advantageous, Jack and the other partners decide to send Mallory along with him. And so off they go to the resort and proximity makes Jack start to wonder what Mallory would be like if she ever let her hair down, literally and figuratively. When the Ice Queen refuses to thaw, however, Jack makes the mistake of referring to her as “frigid.” Never one to refuse a challenge, Mallory decides to prove him wrong. What starts out as hot flirtation leads to romantic feelings on both sides, but the two have to struggle to get past their emotional baggage in order to make the relationship work.

Jack and Mallory are both likeable characters with believable issues. Mallory’s about face from uptight and insecure to brazen seductress was a little too sudden to ring true, but the teasing cat and mouse game she and Jack play is fun and allows for a gradual, steady increase in emotional and sexual tension. Also, Jack does a pretty quick turnaround from bachelor-about-town to Mr. Ready-to-Settle-Down. I think in a longer book the characters’ changes of heart wouldn’t seem so abrupt and would therefore be more believable. The chauvinism Mallory encounters at work also seems a little contrived, even for a stuffy law firm; the feeling was a little too 1980 for a current romance. These quibbles aside, Seduce Me is a fun, quick read. While it will never make my list of all time favorites, it was good enough that I would be willing to pick up one of the author’s newer, longer releases.

No comments: