Monday, 7 May 2007

Intimate by Donna Huxley

One of the few romances to feature a heroine who actually says no to her boss. An action which has seriously bad consequences for her job and life. Set in Chicago btw.

Another impressive thing about this novel is the amount of plot the author packs into 188 pages. And it all flows together perfectly. Yes. An excellent 2 hours worth of reading.

The heroine is called Anna. She turns down the dirty proposition of her new boss Porter who then gets her falsely accused of industrial espionage and consequently fired. He then doctors her references so that Anna will never find work again in the same field, and even then pursues her with his disgusting attentions. All of which Anna continues to disrespectfully decline.

But during all this Anna gains the attention of another suitor, Marsh, a handsome successful lawyer. Ok, she conveniently falls in love with the rich Marsh but the author deals with that issue. How? By introducing more misery into Anna's life. Within about a month of meeting Anna and Marsh get married and seem to be settling to a happy life. Then Marsh investigates the reason why Anna can't get a job and he sees the reference from her former employers. Anna does tell him that it is all lies but she is also angry that he chooses to believe that she married him because of his income and status. Both Marsh and Anna have just cause. The nice thing is they still live together and make love. In fact making love to each other is what holds the marriage together. I liked that. Not many series romance authors would dare do that. But neither Anna nor Marsh communicate much. It wasn't really clear why Anna didn't leave Marsh. Maybe she loved him. But maybe it was because he took over the payment of her sister's tuition fees. It seems she's waiting for him to tell her to go.

Thanks to Marsh, Anna now knows why she can't get another job within her chosen industry. So instead she gets a job in the restaurant trade. And regains her confidence. Her marriage to Marsh is really strange. It's obvious they like each other. But I suppose there is not much trust. Anyway at a party one night Anna sees Marsh talking to a very pretty lady and is jealous. What she doesn't know is that the lady, May, is a mole for Marsh working undercover at her old firm to flush out the truth of Anna's description of her old boss. Which she does in due course.

There are no 'hot' scenes in this novel although some pages are highly sensuous when read in the right frame of mind. Make no mistake. The bad guy, Porter, is an evil evil bastard. Not just for how he harasses the heroine but, as the author makes clear, because he has succeeded with one of Anna's friends. And she is actually a lot more miserable than Anna despite giving into his sexual bullying. She's still got her stupid job. But in the end Anna wins out. And it is Porter who loses his job. But he should have DIED horribly for all the misery he caused.

Let's talk cynics for a moment. Marsh was absolutely correct. Anna married him for some complex reasons. One of which was that he represented safety and security at a time when she was vulnerable. On the other hand. He very much ran after her in the courtship. And Marsh should have told Anna he was investigating Porter. But. Why on earth did Anna get pregnant if she knew her marriage was shakey and that her sister was depending on her for tuition fees? Hmm. This made me realise that this novel is just a very subtle version of the very popular 'heroine marries money' theme. With the obligatory 'big misunderstanding' to add some conflict. But at least the main couple spend lots of the novel together. The real pleasure in this story is that Anna, having said no to the lecherous Porter, could easily have also rejected Marsh. But he had more social skills in addition to the higher income. Let that be a lesson to all concerned when courting women.

Both Anna and Marsh will have to work at their HEA but I'm sure their marriage will last. A really enjoyable read about relatively minor issues. Final comment; terrible title for a good interesting book.

Genre; contemporary romance. movie rating; PG13 grown-up issues, sexual harassment, trust within marriage, one scene of marital abuse.

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