Nothing but the Best
Nothing but the Best is the third installment in Kristin Hardy’s Sex and the Supper Club series, which features a group of single friends who live in Los Angeles and get together to chat and support each other. I didn’t really witness much of the “supper” part, but I can attest to the fact that there’s no shortage of sex. This is the first of the series that I’d read, and I found it very stand alone; if you haven’t read any of the others, it’s fine to start with this one.
Cilla Danforth is the heir to the Danforth department store fortune, but she’s always wanted to prove herself in the company. Since she’s the boss’s daughter, it seems to be twice as hard for her as it is for everyone else. The only way she got her job as a buyer was to submit her application under a different name (this elicited prompt calls for an interview, while the application under her own name was denied because of her “lack of experience”).
When Cilla leaves early for a management meeting at a swank resort, she figures she’ll finally get some “me” time. On the way there, her tire blows out, and a sexy guy ends up helping her change it. She’s really wary, and ends up staying in the car the whole time. Afterwards, she could just kick herself for not giving him her number. Happily, Rand shows up at the same hotel. She spies him at the bar while she’s at the pool, and they begin a day-long flirtation which culminates in a night of white-hot sex. In the morning, she gives him her number and tells him she has to get back to real life. She dresses in her business clothes, heads to the management meeting, and finds (you guessed it) her new sex buddy Rand. He happens to be in charge of Danforth’s overseas expansion. While at the meeting, Cilla seizes an opportunity. One of the chain’s concepts hasn’t been doing well, and she has some new ideas for it. She presents them to the board, and they like what she has to say, so they put her in charge. But there’s a catch. Because she has never managed a project before, they think she needs a partner. Naturally, they choose Rand for the job.
Rand immediately establishes a “no more sex for us” rule. He knows perfectly well that sex and business don’t mix, and he wants to keep a clear head while they complete the project. They have some tough deadlines and a lot of decision-making ahead of them. Cilla decides early on that the no sex thing isn’t working for her. She’s never had a serious relationship and doesn’t have any immediate plans to start, but she really wants Rand, and she intends to go after him, even if she doesn’t really play fair. He finally caves when she shows him lingerie (of her own design) that she wants to stock in the store. Of course, she can’t just show him what it looks like on a hanger. Soon Cilla and Rand are combining business and pleasure, and becoming more important to each other. Before Cilla knows it, she’s in a serious, committed relationship. She’s in love with Rand, but she’s not sure how to be a couple, and she keeps making mistakes. Will Rand be patient with her as she corrects years of selfish habits, or will their relationship crash and burn?
I found that this book really got better as it went along. As with many Blazes, it starts out with flaming hot sex. In this case, I think it worked fairly well, at least initially. Because it’s intended to be a fun little fling, it doesn’t seem contrived. Instead, it plays into Cilla’s image. She’s sexually confident and very adventurous, and she wears it well. I really liked that she knew exactly what she wanted and set out to get it, with no apologies or excuses.
At first, I found some of other aspects of Cilla’s character annoying. Her actions struck me as unprofessional and, at times, truly selfish. As the book progressed, however, it became clear that Cilla’s immaturity was a major plot point – in fact, it could even be called the crux of her character. The whole point of the book is that falling in love truly changes Cilla in a positive way. If her actions aren’t always admirable, at least she learns from them. However, she lets Rand down – both personally and professionally. The personal stuff was more forgivable, and made sense within the context of her outlook and upbringing. Some of the professional slights were a little harder to stomach.
And what of Rand? Well, he’s clearly the grown-up in the group, but then he has a very loving family and a stable background. He’s an all-around great guy and hot in bed to boot. Really, there was nothing I didn’t like about him. His frustration with Cilla is completely believable, and his patience with her was almost, well, female. At one point, Cilla runs several hours late and doesn’t bother to call Rand and let him know. When he takes her to task over it, I was struck – and even charmed – by the gender reversal. It was kind of nice to have a steady guy with a woman who was afraid to commit for a change.
I enjoyed the details of Cilla’s new retail concept. The business setting isn’t just window dressing; it’s obvious that these two actually have a job to do, which is also perhaps why some of their flirting is done during work time. The only problem I had with the retail aspect was the phenomenally fast turnaround time when they remodel the store. It takes two weeks, and they totally gut the place. Maybe it does happen that fast sometimes, but I’ve never seen it.
Overall, I found the concept fun and the characters inventive. It has its flaws, but in some ways they almost make the book more interesting. Series fans should find Nothing But the Best worth their while.