Blame it on the Blackout
Last week I had a sudden, burning desire to read a series romance. I didn’t have any on hand, and I was trapped at home with a house full of loud teenage girls (celebrating my daughter’s birthday). I looked through Harlequin’s website, hoping something would catch my eye. Blame it on the Blackout definitely caught my attention; could this book really be about sex in an elevator? I sent my husband off to the bookstore (really, he was only too happy to escape), and he arrived back, book in hand. It really was just the sort of read I was looking for: short, sweet, and just sexy enough. If some of the hero’s misgivings are a little old hat, well, it’s easy to forgive in a shorter book.
Lucy Grainger has worked as Peter Reynolds’ assistant for two years, secretly admiring him all the while. Peter finds Lucy pretty attractive too; in fact, some part of him admits that his feelings for her played a part in the hiring process. The fact that Lucy is beautiful and very competent only adds top the allure. However, Peter doesn’t believe that he can ever make a move on Lucy. He knows that Lucy isn’t a one night stand type of woman, and he doesn’t think he can commit to a woman just now, or maybe ever. Peter throws all of his energy into his software/computer game company. It’s a passion for him, and he doesn’t think his work life would be compatible with a family. His dad was a workaholic who gave his all to his job – and nothing to his family. It tore his mother apart, and Peter doesn’t want to do that to anyone. So he determines to keep his feelings quietly buried. Lucy doesn’t really have any such hang ups; she just thinks that Peter just isn’t interested.
One night, Peter convinces Lucy to be his date at a charity event. She arrives in a heart-stoppingly beautiful dress, but Peter steels his resolve. His good intentions are derailed, however during a brief blackout. Peter and Lucy get stuck in the elevator together, and Peter is very claustrophobic. As Lucy tried to calm him down, one thing leads to another, and they end up making love right there. It’s wonderful for both of them, but almost immediately afterwards they wonder if they’ve made a mistake. They also can’t help wondering whether it’s a mistake with consequences, as there were no condoms in the elevator. Lucy manages to avoid Peter’s phone calls all weekend. When Monday arrives, they continue with their work, but relations are strained. Neither of them knows what to do with these feelings. Eventually, they take a business trip to New York together, and things really come to a head. Peter explains why he wouldn’t be good husband material. Lucy tells him about her family, where work and family life were nicely balanced. But things end badly. Can Peter ever get the confidence he needs?
This is the kind of plot that would likely annoy me in a longer book. Peter has the classic “I had a front row seat to one bad relationship and have therefore drawn umpteen lame conclusions about love” attitude popularized by countless heroes before him. Happily, he has less than two hundred pages to stew about it. His character ends up working well in the end, mostly because he acts like a clueless man – and then redeems himself appropriately, as all clueless men should. Many of the boneheaded statements that come out of his mouth are classically male, and very believable. You can’t help wincing as his foot gets lodged in his mouth yet again, but then he makes up for it later.
Lucy is perhaps a little timid for my taste, what with all the loving from afar she does. At times her behavior seems more like she’s eighteen than 28 (her actual age). However, she does develop a spine right when she needs one, and she gives the clueless Peter the wake-up call he so desperately needs.
Basically this book worked pretty well for me because the premise is one I enjoy. There’s something really romantic about just-can’t-help-ourselves sex in an odd place. I like both the sexiness of it, and the subsequent conflicts it sets up. I’ve enjoyed this scenario before, most notably in Mary Balogh’s The Notorious Rake, my all time favorite Regency Romance. In that book, the hero and heroine make love in a park shelter during a storm – because the heroine is paralyzed with fear. Come to think of it, Blame it on the Blackout is kind of a 21st century version of The Notorious Rake’s plot. In this case it’s helped along by the very realistic and touching portrayal of Peter’s claustrophobia. His vulnerability in this scene softens him, humanizes him, and makes his other lapses a little more forgivable.
While it’s not perfect, this book provides a quick, fun read. It’s the kind of escape I look for in a series romance, and at times it went pretty deep for such a short novel. It’s a good one for series fans to check out, and it just might provide the summer escape you are looking for.