Wednesday, April 21, 2010

In Bed with the Boss

Kalera has been a widow for two years. Her boss, Duncan Royal, has been in love with her for a long time but knows that she hasn't been ready for a new relationship. Suddenly, Kalera announces her engagement to his business rival whom she has been secretly dating. Can Duncan persuade her that Stephen is not the man for her?

The blurb for this book is completely misleading, making it seem like some sleazy rich man and his mistress secretary type of deal. It's not. This is actually a really sweet book with likeable characters. Kalera is a very normal woman. I don't know how else to describe it. She's trying to get on with her life. She has no deep seated hang-ups or insecurities. Six months after the death of her husband, on what would have been their sixth wedding anniversary, Kalera ends up turning to Duncan in her grief and sleeping with him. Knowing that she is still grieving and was merely using him as a substitute, Duncan suggests they pretend the night never happened, and they get on with their lives. Kalera continues to wear her wedding and engagement rings, so Duncan accepts that she still isn't ready to move on.

We find out at the end that Duncan was already in love with Kalera when she was married, and that her husband, Harry, knew about it. Apparently he trusted Kalera's love to such a degree that he knew Duncan never had a chance, and became his friend out of pity. Seems somewhat far-fetched to me, but I like that Duncan never tried to steal Kalera away from Harry, and even after Harry passed away, he didn't try to move in on her. It really shows his character and genuine love for her. On Kalera's side, she is obviously attracted to Duncan but finds him too strong and alive. She chooses Stephen because he is "safe". I think it's clear that she still wasn't really ready to move on from Harry yet, and wanted someone who wouldn't challenge her heart or stir up her passion and make her feel guilty for being alive. Indeed, she continues to wear her wedding and engagement rings until Stephen proposes to her. Unfortunately, Stephen turns out to be psychotically jealous and controlling. I guess this is to make it really obvious that he's the wrong man for Kalera, and so the reader doesn't feel bad about them breaking up so she can be with Duncan at the end, but I found it a little convenient. Kalera had a great marriage, so why would she choose so badly the second time around? She says things like, "He'll be different once we're married". Those are words I expect to hear from someone young, inexperienced and needy, not from someone who is confident and was happily married for almost six years.

My main complaint about this book was the ending which I feel really let it down. Throughout the book you see Duncan's attempts at both getting Kalera to see himself as more than a friend, and also to see Stephen's true character, whilst not wanting to hurt her. He is tender and passionate, and Kalera's tension and confusion builds steadily. Eventually she sees the truth about Stephen, and the next thing you know she is jumping into bed with Duncan and confessing her love for him. It's just so sudden and abrupt. You never really get the feeling that she really fell in love with him at any stage, although she obviously wants him physically. The ending was very rushed. It would have been more believable and less jarring if she had thought about it and come to the conclusion that she was in love with Duncan. Instead, she gets mad at him one day, realises he's got an erection, jumps him and confesses her love. If you can overlook the ending, this is still an enjoyable book but not one of Susan Napier's best efforts.

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