Caitlin Crews does it again. Takes an old trope, breathes new life into it, and makes you root for the people involved, even though they’re far from perfect or even completely likable. What they are is perfect for each other and nobody else.
Dru has worked for Cayo for the last five years. She’s been the perfect PA, and Cayo depends on her more than even he realizes. Cayo is a driven tycoon. See what I mean about old tropes? This man is, however, a believable tycoon. He’s a monster, and Dru isn’t shy of calling him one. However, there is a reason for his monstrosity, and Crews lets us in early enough that we can feel for him and understand some of what goes on behind the façade.
Cayo works hard enough for me to believe that he’s a real tycoon. His background, and the reason for his driven personality, shouldn’t be a surprise to Harlequin Presents readers, but here Crews gives it meaning. She also hints that not everyone in that situation (dirt poor and cruelly rejected) would have the same reaction as Cayo. I know one or two millionaires (honestly I do) and the one thing they have in common is their single-minded desire to make and have money. Not power, necessarily, but enough money not to worry about it anymore. Their motives are different. Some want to make a difference and others just want the money. Some want power. Cayo wants power and respect. He gets both, but he has been working at this for a long time and doesn’t recognize other emotions or realize that he wants them. Like love. He wants, he takes.
Dru is a martyr type, but with enough self-knowledge and bitter awareness for the reader to understand and care about her. She’s been looking after her beloved twin brother Dominic all through his mental collapse and drug addiction until his recent death. It’s his death that frees her. She has nobody and nothing anymore and that brings her to an awareness of herself. It’s her turn now.
Dru and Cayo shared a passionate encounter that stopped short of sex three years before, when Cayo visited his grandfather on his deathbed. The experience was raw enough for him to want somebody and was enough for him to drop his guard and make that one error.
The story starts when Dru tells Cayo she’s quitting. He can’t stand the thought of it, but at the time puts it down to her superlative skills at her job. She insists on it, even though he effectively kidnaps her and takes her to an island paradise. Where he works. She agrees to the two-week notice detailed in her contract, but then wants to walk away for good.
The encounters between Dru and Cayo are passionate, before and after their consummation. There is a wonderful episode where Dru does something drastic and so close to TSTL that there’s a danger the reader will just condemn her, but she has her way out and what drives her to do it is completely understandable. Cayo drives her into a corner, tries to impose his will, and she takes the only way out available to her. I say wonderful, because she actually does it and forces him to back down. It’s great when an alpha male as purely alpha as this one is forced to relent, even before the final grovel scene.
And, without spoilers, it isn’t a grovel scene because there’s fault on both sides. We follow Dru and Cayo through their story breathlessly, knowing where it will end, because this is, after all, a Harlequin romance, but not knowing how they are going to do it. Crews isn’t afraid of pushing so hard that the characters don’t seem to have a way out. Then something happens and their relationship moves on another notch. I love writers who take chances in their chosen genre. I’d also love to see what she does with a longer format, how deeply she can get into the characters.
This is a goodie and so welcome after some reads that made me doubt my faith in the line. One good writer can turn it all around, and now I’m hungry for more.
Playing with fire! Drusilla Bennett’s job from hell will soon be over. Ready to take her life back and walk away from the devil – currently disguised as her boss – Dru plucks up the courage to say ‘I quit!’ Nothing has ever taken Cayo Vila by surprise – until now. And the word ‘no’ just isn’t part of his vocabulary. So a resignation from the best PA he’s ever had is simply unacceptable. Dru’s heard all about his legendary charm, but now that it’s turned on her she understands exactly why it’s so hard to say no to Cayo Vila! ‘
Read an excerpt.