Project Director Zane Caldwell has a major problem—a charming, go-getter hotshot from Chicago named Ford Trionni, recently hired at Windley Finch Inc., a Connecticut-based marketing research company. The man, whom the secretarial pool nicknamed "The Italian Stallion" based on his stunning good looks and sexual aura, has also gained the reputation of a superstar in the industry due to his innovative analytical techniques. The trouble is, the man wears his accolades like a badge on his lapel, strutting around the office like a peacock.
Ford’s self-centered, lofty attitude drives Zane to utter distraction. Even worse, the man seems to know it, intentionally using his sizzling sex appeal to tie Zane’s patience and libido into knots while giving off mixed messages of mutual attraction. But from what Zane can tell, Ford’s already involved in an intense relationship with someone else, and the last thing Zane wants is to fall for a guy who not only treats him like a peon instead of an equal, but intends to make him a side dish to his current love affair.
Yet as he works with Ford on an important account, Zane begins to realize there’s more to Ford than the man lets on, and all may not be what it seems. As the heat between them builds into an inferno despite their contrary work relationship, Zane vows to get to the bottom of Ford’s confusing behavior once and for all. Is the man playing games with Zane’s job and his heart, or is there a chance they might actually discover they’re the perfect partners
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars
Despite the publisher’s claim that this is a romantic comedy, it’s not at all. It’s got a dash of office romance, some family drama, miscommunication, fear of rejection, and all the classic issues relationships deal with in romance novels but it’s not very funny – actually it’s not funny at all. It’s a decent read but has some serious problems and the prose is not very good in my opinion. I had issues with the writing, characterization, and weak plot though it did have some real strengths in portraying realistic tension and fears. Overall a mixed bag that I can’t say I particularly enjoyed, although it’s not a total train wreck.
The lengthy blurb pretty much summarizes the extent of the story. There is an opposites attract theme with office co-workers Zane and Ford as they jockey for king of the mountain so to speak. Ford’s attitude rubs Zane the wrong way while Zane can’t think of much beyond wanting to rub Ford in all kinds of ways. When the two finally sit down to talk, Zane realizes that there is more to Ford than he realized but Ford’s fear of rejection and family issues may drive a wedge between their budding romance.
The plot itself is uneven and never hits a smooth pace. The beginning is quick and sexy with some hot banter that sets up what should be a romantic, sexual tension filled office romance. There is some witty dialogue, lots of sexual lusting and musing mixed with I hate him/I love him waffling. This carries on for about half the book as the two men circle around each other offering quips and jabs while building the tension. Nothing is really funny or comedic at all but the story is somewhat entertaining as the two men dance around their explosive chemistry while not wanting to give in for their own reasons. There is the mysterious Mitch who Zane thinks is Ford’s high maintenance boyfriend and this throws a wrench into the relationship until Ford can explain. From here the story takes a turn and becomes a rather serious, dramatic piece about dealing with family illness and the repercussions.
The subplot about Ford and Mitch is well handled and the best part of the book. Watching Ford maneuver through life with Mitch is interesting and compassionate while bringing up some very understandable fears and issues. Ford’s fear of rejection and inability to really commit makes sense in light of his life and past so the tension revolving this feels honest. Although Ford’s issues drag out and flip flop a bit much, the underlying issues work and so this isn’t a big issue. Both Ford and Zane are decently characterized but they seem to change once they start having sex. Ford’s confident, outgoing demeanor turns almost meek and quiet. He becomes introspective and almost lost except during sex scenes when he’s vocal and calling out what he wants. The switch to Ford’s personality is meant to show him losing the arrogant façade but he loses his entire personality unfortunately. Likewise Zane originally comes off as sharp edged but sexy yet during the sex scenes he becomes dominating and I’m not sure where that came from.
Unfortunately the relationship between Ford and Zane just never reaches that same level of interest as the brother plot and if anything, their sex scenes really helped kill any enjoyment in the book. Ford supposedly puts on an arrogant shell to mask his insecurities and his fears but once in bed when Zane takes on his weird dominant role with Ford as submissive that feels awkward and wrong. Their attempt at talking dirty during sex totally turned me off and made the erotica a chore to read. This dialogue and the various sexual descriptions sound corny and off-putting. Such as “he had several inches of my throbbing shaft buried inside his snatch” or
“Just making way for the prick I’ll be giving you soon.”
“No, no, not soon…now, fuck me now.”
“Now?” I asked, chuckling before giving his opening another swipe with my tongue and making certain I waggled my whiskered face over his buttocks.
Overall the story seems to suffer from not taking a strong focus. There is the office romance aspect but other than the fact they work at the same office, this never really plays heavily into the story. The fun dynamic of office politics and getting it on during the work day or the tension about such never materialized in any meaningful way and the comedy description is a total error. This is not a comedy and the drama of dealing with a family member with Down Syndrome was perhaps the best part of the book. While entertaining to read in some areas, this is not a book I particularly enjoyed and therefore wouldn’t recommend. But that’s just my opinion.