Yes, I hate the title. Yes, the image at the top of Sharon Kendrick’s website creeps me out. But. Yes, I love the secretary-boss romance. Maybe because I don’t in real life, so the fictional hook gets me. Yes, I love Italian Billionaires. As a result? I had to buy and read this book. A very Harlequin Presents book, but I knew what I was getting into.
I feel like some explanation is necessary. For some reason, I think I got Ms. Kendrick mixed up with another author. One I’d decided to avoid, after I stopped reading the book and considered using the edges to give myself paper cuts on my eyes – which was preferable to the pain of going on. My apologies to Ms. Kendrick. Nevertheless, the title was so ridiculous, and the premise (yes I did read the book blurb and excerpt before buying) so tantalizing, I couldn’t refuse.
This book has some of my favorite cliches. The mousy secretary. (Two in one deal!) The hot Italian boss- who is also a billionaire. (Three in one!) A woman- the heroine- learning of her own self worth. Check. (After all, that’s why she wants to leave, right?) A love story where the hero is brought to his knees after falling head over heels in love. Check, double check, and check mate. I was reading this book come hell or high water.
Angie Patterson starts out as a promising character – smart, sensible, a little shy, but ready to move on. She has a crush on her boss, but knows that’s pretty much hopeless. She lives her own life, and loves her family – Angie is normal, and content. Unfortunately, as soon as Riccardo shows her any attention she tends to lose all her intelligence. I love that Angie makes some changes for herself – but was so frustrated that she immediately caved as soon as Riccardo snapped at her. Angie does, however, come to her senses at the end, and I thought that was fantastic.
Riccardo Castellari saves himself right at the close of the book. I spent most of the book disliking him. He’s arrogant, and a jerk. Riccardo definitely gets around, and doesn’t think much of Angie. Even when he has sex with her. (Or, he does, but doesn’t know it himself until the end – which didn’t make me very kindly disposed towards him.) However, he’s nice to Angie when she’s sick, and free with material things. His impassioned speech at the end – the “groveling scene” is also quite good. So, Riccardo, although he generally made me want to smack him in the face, ends up as a tolerable, if not likable character.
Unfortunately, this book hit too many plot snags for me. The financial and social differences between Angie and Riccardo were fine, and believable, but their personalities were a bit much. Riccardo spends most of the book as an utter ass. Consequently, Angie comes off not as a character in love, but something of a doormat – and rather thick, considering all the abuse she takes from Riccardo. I definitely don’t think he treated Angie well enough – especially when the origin of the red dress is revealed.
There’s sexual chemistry between the characters for sure, but… I didn’t really enjoy it, actually. I think it’s because of Riccardo’s actions. He’d be berating Angie, and she’d be feeling sick and upset, and then wham suddenly turned on. But, even more, or worse, than that, was after intimate moments, Riccardo was a first class jerk. It read like he was using her for sex, and was never emotionally involved. Just upset he felt funny. It made their intercourse rather tawdry at times. However, this is saved by Riccardo’s random spurts of kindness. He’s gruff and abrupt, but does care about Angie’s well being. I just wish it had been more apparent and prevalent. Then the good parts and romance would likely be more memorable.
I found the book to be rather average. Generally enjoyable while reading it, but at times frustrating, and ultimately forgettable. I remembered key scenes from it, but had to re-skim to write the review, and was shocked to discovered I’d forgotten a large part of the plot. I did, however, love the random twists and turns, and unexpected moves the characters made. And… as much as I’m done with series, I wouldn’t mind reading Romano Castellari (the older brother’s) story, if he has one.
Lastly, the ending of the story put a smile on my face. Riccardo travels across half the world to find Angie, and is so matter of fact about his love. It’s sweet, and so very fitting for them.
Riccardo Castellari has never seen Angie as anything other than his mousy secretary—until she flaunts a silky red dress that hangs on her every curve. Now he doesn’t just look once, but twice!
Angie is helpless to refuse one night of exquisite pleasure with Riccardo. But back at work her cheeks are burning. Mortified, she tries to resign. Riccardo has other ideas—in order to leave, Angie must serve out her notice as his very personal mistress…
Read an excerpt here.