This is a terrific book. Instead of dealing with the non-issue of an African-French man and a Caucasian American woman, it deals with what lies beneath the skin. I love that a book featuring a hero and heroine from different races didn’t dwell on that aspect of their relationship, but all the issuesaere about her skin, not his. What’s more, the fashion background reads authentically, so I could really relax into this one and enjoy the hell out of it.
Blaise, our hero, is a wildly successful financier. In a bunch of debts he recently bought with another deal, he finds Ella Stanton’s fashion business. Ella has talent and she has a working business plan, but it’s a five-year plan. Blaise wants to accelerate that, and before he’s met Ella, has decided that her business is one he’d like to invest in. Ella thinks he’s blowing her off but agrees to work with him. Their romance develops from there, and it involves one of my favorite themes, learning to let go and let the other person in, to drop all the barriers.
Ella has been in a devastating house fire, which left her with serious burns. The book doesn’t pull punches about them. She’s lost feeling in parts of her body, and the burns are nasty. But she doesn’t cover them up, or, rather, she uses a clever legerdemain trick—she displays some and hides the worst. So it’s her skin that’s the outer manifestation of their problems in this book.
Layers on layers. How I love that. Ella is a strong woman, but not to the point of stupidity. She knows how much Blaise can do for her business, and she accepts it, using his contacts and his high-profile personality. And he colludes in that, is willing to lend her all that. He doesn’t blackmail her, he doesn’t force her into anything. The decision to become lovers doesn’t depend on that. I love that, too.
This book has everything the Presents/Modern line demands, but all of the requirements – the wealthy background, the alpha male, is used to further the story and the romance. Blaise uses his power and his appearance as a don’t-care lover to cover up his hurts, but he doesn’t wallow in them. He just gets on with things. And he is absolutely gorgeous. For years I’ve had a hopeless crush on the Saville Row tailor and designer Ozwald Boateng. Not just because he is OMG gorgeous, but because he designs men’s suits like you wouldn’t believe. Melt-in-the-mouth tailoring. So it’s a treat to put him in this book as “my” Blaise. Modern decided to put a yummy African model on the front of the book, so if I want Ozwald, I can have him. I mean, look at the cut on that suit (tailor’s tip – if the shoulders fit, the rest of the suit usually follows).
Speaking of fashion—the backgrousnd to this book reads authentically. Yates knows what goes into design and making a line, and although some parts are skimmed over, it doesn’t matter, because this is a book about romance, not fashion. It works. The only bit that jars a little is the choice of colors for a studio. Most designers have a “white room” which they can hang with colors if they want to, to show the design and the colors without fear or favor. I don’t care, to be honest, and I bet there are some designers around who don’t have that reverence for white rooms. It works with Ella’s personality.
This is the second book I’ve read from this line that features an ethnic mix (the other was The Restless Billionaire with a Bollywood heroine) and all I can say is bring it on. It’s not the ethnicity it brings to the line, but the backgrounds. The Restless Billionaire brings some of the excitement of Bollywood to its story, and this one brings the beauty of Malawi, where Blaise’s mother came from. Because this book features two strong characters, I find it the much more satisfactory read.
Blaise must overcome the fact that both his parents, although not turning their backs on him, rejected him, and then he did something despicable to his brother, something the story doesn’t skim over, and Ella must cope with the barriers she’s put up since the accident that scarred her so badly. I won’t go into details, because that would be spoiler territory, but there is a lovely, tender scene with a rose, and the proposal scene later had me in bits.
Love the read. The ending is a little bit rushed, I’d have loved more, but still, a great read that I highly recommend.
‘While it has been reported that I may be missing my own soul, I have no interest in yours. This is about money.’ When Ella’s failing business comes wrapped up as part of Blaise Chevalier’s recent takeover, he plans to discard it – as is his usual way with surplus goods. Then he meets Ella! Cast from the same fiery mould as he is, she makes an intriguing adversary. Perhaps he could have a little fun with his new acquisition… As proud and strong as she is beautiful, Ella is determined to prove Blaise wrong about her business and her worth. As long as she hides her hint of vulnerability and denies the flicker of attraction between them when she catches her enemy’s eye…
Read an excerpt.