At Your Service, Jack
Anybody else like me? Every now and then it’s time for me to indulge in what I call “a book, a Coke, and a soak” – a good long session in the tub with a bottle of soda at my side and a book in my hands. And some books are perfect for this: they help me relax, but I don’t’ really care whether they get a drop or two of water on the cover. That’s how I felt about At Your Service, Jack. While it’s nowhere near a DIK for me, the story’s cute, there’s some humor, and the sex is kind of steamy without being over the top.
Freddi Elliot’s life has fallen apart, and it’s all the fault of her former fiancé. He cheated on her, ran up the balance on her credit card, and totaled her car. So she’s left England and come to Toronto to start over, as a butler. The job should be a snap for her; she grew up in the rarified atmosphere of the British aristocracy and she knows all about running an upper-class household. Freddi got this particular job through her best friend (the sister of the rat ex), who told her that her Canadian cousin Jack Carlisle just needs a good butler – and oh yeah, by the way, could Freddi help Jack polish his image a little bit? Seems he’s a little rough around the edges, and needs to acquire some manners if he wants to take over the family business from their stuffy uncle. Almost immediately, Freddi realizes that it’s going to take an industrial-strength buffing machine to get this guy to shine. But, with nowhere else to go, she rolls up her starched sleeves and gets to work.
Jack’s content with his life as it is, thankyouverymuch, and while he recognizes the need for someone to run his house, he doesn’t need anyone running his life – especially not a woman as sexy and distracting as Freddi. He can’t just throw her out into the snow, so he decides to force her out by giving her a few really difficult tasks. The only problem is that she keeps on reaching these seemingly impossible goals he’s set, and the more she does, the more Jack comes to admire and appreciate her. Now if he could just get that picture out of his mind, the one of Freddi in the sexiest, skimpiest outfit anybody’s butler ever wore…
Freddi and Jack are a pretty good match. She’s uptown, he’s downtown, but they actually have a lot in common. Both are determined to prove something to the world, and to themselves. Jack discovers early on about Freddi’s failed engagement; he even knows it was to his slimeball cousin. But he doesn’t let on until much later, leaving Freddi to twist in agony, wondering how Jack will react once he finds out her secret. This leads to some amusing complications.
For me, the highlight of the book was the series of tasks that Jack sets for Freddi practically the minute she steps across his threshold. He’s so convinced that she can’t whip up breakfast in bed for him – at seven o’clock sharp – that when she walks into his room the next morning bearing a tray loaded down with food, he’s speechless for a second. Little does he know Freddi’s trick: she picked up the phone and ordered it in from a posh hotel. Ah, the joys of ordering in! The dialogue is snappy for the most part, and since it’s a Temptation, the sexual-tension and inner-lusting quotients are fairly high; the author does a pretty good job with both. Plus, the book’s pretty funny, in both premise and execution.
I think, because of the humor element, that Temptations are probably my favorite line of Harlequin categories. The beauty of reading a category romance is that it usually doesn’t take much time, and if the story’s good you don’t feel like you’re wasting that time. Now, I’m not claiming that At Your Service, Jack is going anywhere near my keeper shelf, but it’s certainly a fitting and fun way to while away a couple of hours, in the tub or elsewhere.