Some Kind of Incredible
Lila Maxwell is secretary to a vice president of a jewelry company, Colette, Inc. She longs for a home, a husband, a family, and the stability that her childhood lacked. She’s also in love with her boss, Nick Camden, a sexy but distant loner. One day her landlady, Rose, lends Lila a pretty brooch, promising her that it will bring her luck and love.
That very day, Nick asks Lila to come into his office to take a memo. Nick is upset at rumors that the company may be facing a hostile takeover. He turns to Lila for comfort, and they end up having passionate sex on his desk. (Hilariously, this incident is referred to on the book’s back cover as “The night I didn’t just take a memo.”) Neither of them think about using a condom, and in the aftermath Nick assures Lila that, if she is pregnant, he will not marry her. As you might guess, things are a bit strained at the office the next day.
Lila loves Nick, and she wants to prove to him that they can have a life together. Nick wants lots of sex with Lila, but all kinds of bad things have happened to him in his life, and he is wary of commitment.
My first problem with this book is Nick. Nick thinks: “He’d acted like an ass, the way he often did when he felt vulnerable.” Let me tell you, Nick seems to feel vulnerable a lot. One of the very first sentences from Nick’s point of view is this: “He’d never paid much attention to her as a woman except to note that she complemented him nicely, being blond and built.” A man who regards a woman – especially a female employee – merely as an adornment for himself is going to have a hard time winning my respect. Then there’s his hot-and-cold routine. He touches her at the office a lot, uses business as an excuse to get close to her, and at one point demands that she “start thinking of me as your man.” When Lila opens up to him, he turns on her and gets nasty. He’s always sorry afterwards. Big deal. I didn’t see him as a tormented, vulnerable hero; I thought he was a manipulative, pushy creep and he made visions of lawsuits dance in my head.
Lila deserves better. She’s a fairly innocent and modest sort of woman, but she has a saucy temper, and some of her repartee is snappy and funny. I thought that her desire to keep her relationship with Nick a secret was quite reasonable: he is her immediate supervisor. Office politics can be nasty, and professional women learn early not to let people know if they’re doing it on the boss’s desk. It’s a question of career survival. But Nick attacks her for it, accusing her of having judged him and found him wanting. She didn’t – but I did.
There are several other problems. This thing with the brooch apparently ties together four books in a mini-series, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense. No landlord of mine has ever insisted that I borrow expensive jewelry. Lila doesn’t really want to borrow the brooch, but things keep happening that prevent her from returning it, like this: “She’d tried leaving Rose’s brooch at home but hadn’t been able to. It complemented the deep-brown silk shirt she wore with a long black skirt.” The word “contrived” isn’t really adequate to describe this plot element; “completely ridiculous” comes closer.
There are numerous explicit love scenes in this book, amply earning it a Hot rating. But because I never liked the hero and never wanted this couple to get together at all, I didn’t find them sexy. My emotions were totally uninvolved, so my pulse rate didn’t go up one bit. The author also fails the “show don’t tell” test repeatedly, assuring me that the protagonists felt things that their behavior didn’t reflect. And I kind of have a peeve about contemporary characters who repeatedly forget to use condoms.
Handled properly, a story about a secretary’s secret affair with her boss could be hot. But this book features a hero whose behavior is so annoying, and a heroine whose love for him is so incomprehensible, that I can’t possibly recommend it.