Tess Norton is not looking for a Man To Do anymore–she’s looking for a Man To Marry. But when the handsome and wealthy Dash Black, for whom she tends plants in his office, invites him to be his date to a party where a wealthy financier will be…well, it’s just a party, right?
I’ll say it right up front: I liked this story. Quite a lot.
Tess has decided that flings aren’t for her, and she’s all about looking for Mr. Right. Her expectations are in line with her current station, she thinks, and so it’s a bit of a surprise when Dash asks her out. Dash, for his part, has fantasized a little about the lovely plant lady with the fantastic rear end, but doesn’t think of it as a long-term thing either…until they spend some time together, and realize they’re more alike than they think!
But Dash has a problem, see, and it’ll keep it from being long-term. His father is the long-time leader of the Noir Magazine empire, which is for the classy man who wants to be seen around beautiful women. As he’s neared retirement, Dear Old Dad has been largely replaced in the limelight by Dash. It’s a job being seen with Nicole Kidman, you see… Uhm. Gotta be rough.
Tess will take whatever she can get, for a while–she’s kind-of okay with that, really…I mean, it is his job, and it’s not like he’s sleeping with these women or anything; he’s coming home to have the most amazing sex ever with her.
Unsurprisingly, about the time she realizes she really does want happily-ever-after with Dash and is preparing to break it off for good, is about the time he figures a way out of his predicament. We totally get to see it coming, but Tess in particular is completely overwhelmed, and it’s really amazing to see how it all comes together in the end.
Pretty formulaic, don’t you think? Well, yeah. It is. But I enjoyed it, and there are a few reasons:
First, Dash and Tess are utterly believable. Dash’s contempt for some of the famous people he has to be around is almost palpable, and he’s not at all afraid to show Tess that those pretty people are human too, with all the same faults the rest of us have. Tess, for her part, is a serious small-town Texas girl (woo hoo!), down-to-earth and wonderful, and open about it; she does not ever try to put on lots of airs.
Secondly, this tale, for a change of pace for me, really lacks a strong villain. I’ve read several recently where there’s been a crazy ex, and frankly, it’s getting a little tiring. There is a wealthy socialite woman who is obviously jealous of Tess and Dash’s relationship, and she stirs things up a bit, but she’s really not a major impediment; Tess works around her machinations in short order, and cleverly.
Third, the dialogue in this book really sticks out to me; when Tess and Dash are alone, they’re both obviously at ease with each other, and in good rapport. Here’s an example from their first date:
She headed over to the nearest pedestal, one of six that lined the room. Whoever did the flowers was a master. They were gorgeous and lush and perfectly suited that space. The central focus was calla lilies, her personal favorite, and the way the florist had used the stargazers was nothing short of exquisite.
“I should have known that’s where you’d be.”
She turned at Dash’s voice. “They’re fabulous.”
“Certainly no more beautiful than the arrangements at the office.”
“Flattery will get you everywhere.”
“I’m counting on it.”
She flushed a little at his rejoinder as he handed her the martini. He’d gotten himself a drink, too, more of what he’d had in the limo from the looks of it. “This house is amazing.”
He looked around. “There is a certain art to ostentation, isn’t there?”
See what I mean? That’s not normal first-date fare for romance protagonists! It’s two real people, interacting, and they’re witty and snarky and flirty and fun! A Dash of Temptation is a nice, interesting, fun-to-read story. Enjoy!