The Boss's Bedroom Agenda
One thing I enjoy about Harlequin Presents novels is their exotic (well, exotic to me) settings. One thing I don’t particularly like is that the heroes tend to be arrogant. There’s a fine line between sexy alpha and sexist jerk, and it’s one they often cross. Such is the case with The Boss’s Bedroom Agenda.
Beth Walker really needs her new job at the Melbourne Museum. At heart, she’s an artist who wants to spend all her time working on her metal sculptures, but she also needs to pay her bills and fund her shoe habit. So when her cousin Lana gets her a job as a tour guide, Beth jumps at the chance. Her desire to make a good first impression seems doomed when she breaks a shoe on the way to work. The wardrobe malfunction makes her five minutes late on her first day, and her bad luck is compounded when she runs into her new boss.
Aidan Voss is acting CEO of the museum while his father is on medical leave. He notes Beth’s lateness and disapproves, but he also notices how hot she is, and he can’t help noting her sexy shoes either. She doesn’t fit the image of a tour guide at all, as far as he’s concerned, and because he’s attracted to her, he’s a little hard on her. He criticizes her footwear and doubts her ability to do the job. And when she’s about to go out for a drink after a demanding first day, he calls her, forestalls her date, and tells her to report to the office within the hour to discuss a safety incident. Afterward, she charms him into buying her a drink.
Beth likes to live a little dangerously, so she thinks she can embark on a risky relationship with her boss without getting her heart caught up in the process. There’s a problem, though – Beth’s mom died young, and much of her childhood thereafter was spent running from place to place with her dad as he tried to come to terms with his grief. As a result, Beth has a deep desire to form roots and stay in one spot. Given her party-girl image, few people would guess that about her. Aidan, on the other hand, has a completely opposite impulse. Though he took the helm at the museum to help his dad, he is really an archaeologist who is happiest when he’s out in the field. He can hardly wait to get out there and travel, and since his last serious girlfriend didn’t like that type of life, he’s not ready to be serious with anyone – maybe ever.
But a relationship that starts out as just sex soon becomes more. Beth surprises herself by wanting a long-term commitment that she doesn’t think Aidan can give, and Aidan thinks he may want Beth to come with him on his travels, but isn’t sure he can trust her not to leave him. Clearly, they both have past issues they need to resolve before they have their happy ending.
As I mentioned earlier, I enjoyed the setting. Melbourne probably isn’t all that exotic to those who live there, but on this side of the pond it’s fun and different. I also liked the museum idea, although I really don’t see “tour guide” as the high-pressure job that both Beth and Aidan believe it is. She’s complains repeatedly about the need to “swot up” on information (I can only assume it means study, although an Australian co-worker was unfamiliar with the term).
I also really liked Beth, security issues and all. I nearly always appreciate an urban heroine, and Beth is a good one. She doesn’t apologize or make excuses for her lifestyle, and she goes after what she wants – even when it’s a little crazy. She also flies by the seat of her pants and gets away with it, which is a bit of a gender reversal. Maybe it’s just me, but I find the hero is much more likely to have the daring, scoundrel-y qualities.
Unfortunately, I liked Aidan less. The main issue was that his treatment of Beth bordered on sexual harassment. It wasn’t that he kissed her, or that he slept with her, although he did both. It was that he held her to a different standard and judged her more harshly because he was attracted to her. It never seemed as if he were striving for impartiality. Right at the beginning, he shows particular nerve in demanding that she cancel a date and meet him after hours to discuss a minor safety incident. She’s not on the clock; how on earth can such a demand be appropriate? He also warns her repeatedly about his ability to fire her. Granted, I’m not exactly an expert on Australian employment practices, but I can’t imagine that his behavior would be acceptable anywhere. I also found his reasons for avoiding commitment lame at best. He had one bad relationship, so no woman can be trusted…ever? This seems to be popular shorthand in series romances these days, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s tired of it. Most people just don’t act like this is real life.
On the whole, this is the classic mixed bag. I liked her, disliked him. Liked the setting, but doubted some of the plot scenarios. The Boss’s Bedroom Agenda isn’t terrible, but it probably isn’t worth going out of your way for either.