Monday, August 31, 2015

Merry and Bright - Jill Shalvis (Kensington - Sept 2013)

Finding Mr Right

Brilliant chemist Maggie Bell has a knack for choosing Mr. Wrong, and with yet another lonely Christmas looming, she decides it's time to alter the equation - and seek out someone who seems totally wrong for her. Eureka! The heart is a genius...

Fun story. Maggie is tired of her bad luck in finding Mr. Right and with the encouragement of her sister, decides to have some fun with a Mr. Wrong instead. When she discovers that the man in charge of renovating the office where she works is her old high school crush, she feels she has found the perfect candidate.

I loved Maggie. She's the stereotypical nerd, brilliant at her chemistry work but awkward in social situations. When she gets nervous, she spouts all kinds of scientific trivia, which can be a little disconcerting at certain times. Jacob is concentrating on getting the job done so he can get paid with the bonus and then get out of town to visit his family. He noticed Maggie early on, attracted to her without recognizing his old classmate. Their first encounter was funny and hot as they went from awkward to steamy in a hurry. Maggie keeps trying to convince both of them that it is a one time thing, but they can't leave each other alone. I especially liked seeing how easily Jacob saw past Maggie's awkwardness and liked what he saw.

There's also some mystery going on, that has Maggie's office being searched, her tires slashed, and her house searched. Jacob is determined to keep her safe. It's pretty obvious who is behind it, but there is a twist to the end that I didn't see coming. 

Bah Handsome!

Behind on her bills, B&B owner Hope receives an unlikely guest - stranded solicitor Danny, who has been threatening to put her out of business. Funny how the holidays can bring people together no matter how much they resist...

Another fun story. Hope has had a really bad year. One ex-boyfriend broke her heart, and the next one stole her money. To make ends meet, she borrowed money from her stepbrother. Unfortunately for her, he's a heartless SOB, the loan is due in three weeks, and he won't give her an extension. Instead, he's sent his CPA, Danny, to make sure she pays up.

Danny didn't want to come, doesn't approve of what his boss is doing. He tried to talk Hope out of signing the loan paperwork, but she wouldn't listen to him. She's not happy to see him and he really can't blame her, but he really wants to help her. Unfortunately for him, he can't get her to listen to him.

I loved the interactions between Danny and Hope. There's a really strong attraction between them, but Hope is desperately trying to ignore it. Being from the city, Danny has no experience with things like frozen pipes and bears, so seeing his encounters with them was pretty funny. I loved the way that Hope called him "Genius Boy" and teased him about his reactions. I also enjoyed seeing how their attraction would get the better of them, and could understand Danny's frustration when Hope would push him away.

I thought Danny was a real sweetheart. It was pretty adorable when he tried to protect her from the bears. I also loved the scene when he tried to save her from the "earthquake" while just - almost - wearing a towel. It was great to see how getting away from her stepbrother made him realize just what had been happening to him, and that he was ready for a change. The phone conversation with Edward was really great.

I must admit that I got very frustrated with Hope and how she refused to even listen to Danny when he offered to help her. She's in deep trouble and she knows it, but her pride won't let her accept anything from him. I loved seeing her friend Lori keep pushing them together. It was also the mark of a true friend when she told Hope what an idiot she was being at the end. The final scene was very satisfying.

Ms. Humbug

Born rebel or overgrown man child, Matt is the kind of man no woman can tame--until an unexpected encounter with his nemesis, Cami, at the office holiday party proves there is an exception to every rule.

Fun opposites attract story. Matt and Cami have worked together in the past, but usually end up on opposite sides of the issues. Now, thanks to a rash of scandals, Matt has gone from councilman to mayor and is trying to bring back the town's reputation. Matt is the kind of guy that everyone likes, easy to get along with, fun loving, and really good looking. 

Cami is just the opposite. She is a workaholic who has to be in control of every aspect of her life. That tight control tends to turn men off, so it's been awhile since her last relationship. She's gone out with a coworker a few times, but it has been pretty platonic. She's hoping to get a bit further with him at the office Christmas party, until she spots his shoes along with a pair of women's shoes in the ladies room at work.

Then, in a comedy of errors, Cami and Matt have a confrontation that has her convinced that he was the one in the ladies room. Encountering each other at the masked Christmas party, Cami mistakes Matt for Ned and they share a scorching hot kiss, which makes Cami mad when she discovers the truth. She can't deny the way he made her feel, and Matt is equally surprised by her effect on him. 

I loved seeing the way that Matt was determined to pursue the attraction between them. He was amazingly sensitive to her needs for a man with the reputation of a playboy and Cami wasn't sure how to deal with it. I loved the way that he appreciated how smart she was, and that she didn't back down when she was trying to make a point. I also liked how he tried to get her to relax and have some fun. Cami discovered that Matt was the only one who could make her want to give up the tight control she kept on herself. I really enjoyed the scene in her office when she really let go.

I also enjoyed the way they worked together on the office mystery of who was behind all the scandal revelations. As they worked their way through all the possibilities, their differing ways of looking at things meshed well. The guilty party wasn't really much of a surprise, as they were the one with the most access. I loved seeing how the confrontation went down, and the effect it had on Cami. 

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