Nina Crespo’s Kingman Brothers series opens with Forget You, the story of a woman crushing hard on her amnesiac boss.
Sophie Jordan has been high-powered businessman Nic ‘King’ Kingman’s perfect executive assistant ever since Nic swiped her from his brother Aiden’s staff. She knows which tie matches which suit, how to make Nic look presentable for the many social functions he has to attend – and how to suppress the long-standing crush she’s had on him for years. But Nic’s a player, and his behavior and office politics keep Sophie from making a move. That is, until his latest squeeze dumps him hours before a charity function and he asks Sophie to replace her as his date.
Sophie’s reluctance melts under the weight of Nic’s affirmation, and her Cinderella night results in a whipped-cream-ruined borrowed dress and her and King witnessing another couple’s semi-public romp on the rooftop of the hotel. They head to Nic’s limo, explore one another in a flurry of passion, and enjoy the rest of the night in the condo he sets aside for such assignations. They both deal badly with the post-sex aftermath, and Sophie hands in her resignation in response to Nic’s cold suggestion they go back to being co-workers. Just after she walks away from him, he heads off on his private jet, but when an engine explodes on take-off and he bangs his head, all memory of the past month of his life is completely erased.
This requires Sophie to step up and handle company business and forces Nic to grapple with an aching head and a sense of confusion when it comes to his sudden attraction to Sophie, his body remembering what his mind cannot. When he returns to his playboy lifestyle, she can barely bite back her jealousy and dismay, and makes plans to pursue her dreams of designing a jewelry collection. But during a date, Nic has flashes of memory of sleeping with Sophie, which forces a confrontation. Sophie tells him just enough to enlighten him, but Sophie is the kind of woman who deserves a commitment; can Nic give her that in spite of his daddy issues, or will she be the one who got away?
The chemistry between Nic and Sophie is very strong, and there are some really beautiful moments throughout the story where they simply talk, sharing details of their backgrounds, hopes and opinions, but they spend thick stretches in the story apart between reconciliations, chewing over the secret of Nic’s rejection of Sophie and unable to finally say the right words. This can be annoying or an excellent way to create tension at the same time, so your mileage will vary as to how you feel about those separations. A last-act overheard-conversation-causes-the hero-and-heroine-to-break-up conflict is the worst part of it – but I’ll give it a pass. What I won’t give a pass, though, is the way the author allows Sophie to grasp her dream – only to inform us that it was furnished by someone else. I’d much rather she’d got there on her own!
I was more bothered by the fact that the amnesia part of the story isn’t very pronounced; Nic only loses a tiny patch of memory, just enough to forget why he gets a boner when Sophie touches him and why no other woman suddenly seems attractive to him (yep, this is a classic playboy-becomes-monogamous-thanks-to-sex-with-the-heroine story). It would’ve been more interesting if he’d forgotten much more of his past.
Nic has a case of the hot pants and he’s afraid of having an ugly, infidelity-rife marriage; it’s understandable, and even better, the book calls him out on his BS nonstop through everyone from Sophie to his brother to Megan, Sophie’s business partner, who’s known him for too long and isn’t about to let him get away with anything. He’s flinty and hard and a bit aggressive but not a total asshole. He knows what he has in Sophie, knows he’s been foolish in hemming and hawing with her, and ends up giving great grovel.
Sophie is mischievous, arch, funny, creative and self-determined; she’s not going to allow her dignity to be dragged through the mud even though she loves Nic. The book does a wonderful job stocking itself with some great friends for her; her roommate Robin and the aforementioned Megan don’t take any guff and exist as more than sounding boards for the hero and heroine – the relationship between Megan and Sophie in particular is awesome and supportive and just as enjoyable as the one that develops between Nic and Sophie. This is one heroine who has a life outside of being a love object for our hero. And she’s sexually experienced! And the novel doesn’t shame her for it!
Ms. Crespo’s writing is excellent, and the right amount of description and emotion ends up on the page and illuminates the action. The world she gives us is very escapist, very luxurious; Dynasty with mostly likable people, and that is a positive thing. There’s an unnecessarily embarrassing moment where their waitress and chef for a Sophie/King meeting turns out to be the couple they saw boinking away on the rooftop, and there is some sex-shaming language used to describe the women who slept with King before Sophie. Otherwise, Crespo tells a rich story in a short timeframe, with corporate intrigue, parental issues and true ambition figuring in beautifully alongside a really good, complicated romance and a champion of a heroine. Forget You is a glossy tale with a lot of heart behind it, so it’s easy to enjoy it in spite of its flaws.
Lisa Fernandes is a writer, reviewer and recapper who lives somewhere on the East Coast. Formerly employed by Firefox.org and Next Projection, she also currently contributes to Women Write About Comics. Read her blog at http://thatbouviergirl.blogspot.com/, follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/thatbouviergirl or contribute to her Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/MissyvsEvilDead or her Ko-Fi at ko-fi.com/missmelbouvier