Even after Alesha shattered his trust, Derrick never stopped loving her. His strings-attached proposition was supposed to be strictly business: revenge for her cruel betrayal as he rebuilds his public image. Until desire reignites—hotter than ever.
As the ex-lovers give in to their passion, a marriage of convenience is about to become inconvenient. And Derrick realizes just how far he'll go to keep Alesha in his bed, in his arms, in his heart—forever.
He's running for the United States Senate and he needs a wife--or so his campaign manager informs him. Cam is not only his manager but his best friend as well and wants him to succeed. Derrick is a wealthy corporate lawyer who was raised in Washington, D.C., and like many residents of that city, has now been bitten by the "running for elected office" bug. Not minutes after Cam drops this necessity in Derrick's lap, his secretary informs him that a woman awaits to speak with him--the one who destroyed his heart and convinced him that long-term commitment just isn't for him. She is pleading for her brother who has "borrowed" (actually embezzeled) $100k from Derrick's campaign funds and Alesha's brother is going t o arrested and charged with the crime. Derrick is angry because of the theft, but he is also angry still over Alesha's betrayal two years earlier.
This whole scenario comes under the heading of "blackmailed into a business arrangement which will look like a marriage to everyone else." For Derrick it is the quintessential opportunity to put Alesha at his mercy, get his "pound of flesh" from both Alesha and her brother, and also get Alesha out of his system since he insists that the business arrangement comes with "benefits." The one person in Alesha's family for whom Derrick has genuine friendship and affection is her mother, Barbara. What Derrick doesn't learn until quite some time after the marriage occurs, is that Robert stole the money to secure medical treatment for their mother who needed expensive cardiac care.
This is a very tense novel and one that reads like some of the classic adversarial romances for which Harlequin is famous. The twist here is that this is a black family and Derrick is an highly successful attorney who has definitely made his way in the world. Alesha is a strong woman who is extremely loyal to her mother and brother and because of that loyalty agrees to Derrick's conditions. She is a very successful nursing professional--in charge of the operating room at a large Washington hospital, but she must now put aside her career as well as marry a man who she now believes hates her.
Underlying the adversarial nature of this relationship is old baggage, most of which has been caused by emotional panic and untruths which led Derrick to believe that Alesha was fooling around behind his back. When he finds out otherwise, the foundations of his old anger begin to crumble. It is a story that illustrates the hurt that can wound good people when honesty is laid aside. There is no doubt that Derrick is a very intense person, and it was that intensity that frightened Alesha two years earlier. My question is always: why can't people just be honest about their feelings? Perhaps that failure is rooted in insecurity or a fear of being rejected. But in the end, the relationship was smashed anyway and two people who could have found happiness together are turned in different directions with the added burden of anger and disappointment.
This was not a difficult read and as a short novel didn't take an inordinate period of time to read. But it was well written and actually not too sappy overall. The story moved along and there was balance between the actual dialogue between the characters and the inner musings that sometimes take over a story. I have not read any other stories by this author but I have to say that I think the story was well crafter, the characters were realistic, and the context of the tale believable. It also includes a novella by Brenda Jackson in celebration of a publishing anniversary. So there's more for your money and I think both the novel and novella are very nice love stories. I give it a rating of 4 out of 5.
This short novel will be released by Harlequin under their Kimini imprint on 31 January 2012.