Wednesday, May 16, 2012

TBR Challenge: Secret Admirer

Secret Admirer
Susan Napier
Contemporary Romance
A Year Down Under Series
Harlequin Presents/May 1993

Grace under pressure
Running into a potential business partner late at night in a broken elevator - when one was wearing a glamorous fur with nothing on underneath - was awkward, but Grace Blair was cool enough to handle a hot situation.

Her poised, controlled demeanor belied the insecurity she felt taking over her late husband's business empire, but Scott Gregory was able with one caressing glance to strip away all her pretenses. Especially since the handsome New Zealander had made it clear from their first inauspicious meeting that in business, knowledge was power - and that he knew exactly what he wanted.

This is not the first book I picked up for this month's challenge.  I started with a historical western but after a week and only 125 pages in, I decided to set it aside.  Unfortunately, I decided this yesterday morning which meant if I was going to make the challenge deadline, I would need to pick something I could read and review in a day.  So I dragged out the underbed storage box filled with Harlequins and came up with a Susan Napier romance.  I've not read Ms. Napier but have read some positive reviews of her work which is how she landed in my TBR pile.

 What a memorial impression Grace leaves on Scott Gregory upon their first meeting!  She is mortified, he is intrigued.  Fast forward a few months and Grace is trying to keep her late husband's company afloat, learning as she goes.  It turns out Mr. Gregory is in the same business  Grace now finds herself in and he has an interesting business proposal to make.  

Scott Gregory is not only known for his amazing business ventures but also for escorting a variety of beautiful women about town.  He can be either a ruthless competitor or an asset to Grace's company.  Right off you know Scott has plans that extend past the boardroom when it comes to Grace.  His fascination with her may have started in the elevator but it has gone beyond there.  He does have this tendency to show up everywhere Grace goes.  Stalker-ish or a man who goes after what he wants?  It didn't feel like Scott was a stalker simply because the intent was not malicious.  Yes, he does want to get to know Grace and she says she wants to keep things business only but the vibes she's sending out say something else.

Grace Blair has gone through a lot in the past months.  Her husband's death left her feeling alone and insecure in running the business he left to her.  She doesn't give up but instead is determined to learn what she needs to know to run the business. Grace is a former model, starting in childhood with a stage mother who focused all of Grace's time and energy on her career.  We see how Grace's modeling experience only feeds into her insecurities when it comes to business.  Grace was too indecisive when it came to her personal life and her feelings for Scott.  When she did make a decision, I was merely waiting for her to change her mind.

There is a big ol' WTH moment about two-thirds of the way through.  It was plausible, given the character's childhood but believable?  Yes, but ... I still had to remind myself that this is fiction.  Speaking of childhoods, both Grace and Scott has some bumps from theirs with Scott's bumps being far more traumatic.  Looking back, it is surprising how much detail was put into this category.  The focus does stay on Grace and Scott with little to no development on the secondary characters.  That didn't really bother me since it is a short format.

Even with the less than stellar heroine, the WTH shocker and the potential stalker moments, Secret Admirer turned out to be a engaging, short romance. 

Rating:  B-


  1. Leslie, I remember reading books by Napier! But don't ask me which titles because by now they are a blur... I didn't keep any of those books. :( (I had such a huge collection... gah!)

    The "stalker(ish)" aspect of it doesn't surprise me. But your comment about the amount of information included in the short format is what caught my attention. I remember during that time categories as being "meaty" reads, with well-developed characters, despite the length.

  2. A common criticism I see (often!) for category is their length - but honestly, it totally boils down to the author. When an author works well within the word count, you really DO get a complete, and filling, story.

    I loved that she was wearing only a fur coat. Given the rise of the anti-fur movement, could you imagine an author writing that into a book these days? Just think about the comment threads on places like GoodReads!