Yes, it's been a while since I have posted . . . busy summer, lots of that Southwestern "dry heat" to contend with, and some not so good health issues that have kept me away from the blog. But I have been checking in regularly and although there haven't been many comments, I hope that all of you are enjoying some good books and keeping up with some of the good new books as well as some that are being re-issued. Over at The Book Binge where I also do book reviews, I have been reviewing a Viking historical series by Sandra Hill that has recently been re-released by Avon Book . . . just really delightful, funny, erotic, and very well researched novels that I missed the first time around and am so glad I was given the opportunity to review them now.
Here is a book that was released about a year ago, the second in a series. The first book was a freebie from Amazon that I really liked and one I think lots of readers obtained. Now the story continues with the rivalry between the Andrade and Corisi families with characters that were introduced in Book One.
Nicole Corisi will lose her inheritance if she doesn't find a way around the terms of her father's will, but she will have to partner up with her estranged brother's rival to do it. As pretense becomes painfully real, Nicole will have to choose between Stephan and the family he is driven to destroy.
Stephan Andrade has been planning his revenge ever since Dominic Corisi unscrupulously took over his father's company. With Corisi Enterprises gambling its reputation on the success of a new software network for China, Stephan finally has his chance to take back his legacy. Dominic's younger sister, Nicole, asks Stephan for his help and provides him with an opportunity to exact his revenge on a personal level.
It all goes smoothly until he falls in love.
The phrase "Poor Little Rich Girl" came to mind while reading this novel, one that was very popular regarding Barbara Hutton, Christina Onassis, and others who had millions in the bank but found that they probably could count on one or two fingers the true friends they possessed. In our heroine's case, she had lost her mother early in her teens--mom just up and left--and now her dad, her abusive and unloving dad, had died. She has been estranged from her brother Dominic for years and he not only left her high and dry when her mother took off, he also put the screws to her relationship with the Andrade family when he bought out their software corporation.
The setting for this novel takes place seven years after that buy-out, seven years after the love of her life blew up at her and left her stranded on their one and only date, and seven years after her relationship with the entire Andrade family ended and which put her on the outs of the only real family she had ever experienced. But the old bitternesses continue, the old hurts and wounds have not healed, and now when Nicole needs Stephan's help in the worst way, his anger, his obsession with crushing Nicole's brother continue to not only keep them apart but close him off to Nicole's impassioned plea for help.
This novel is really a terrific piece of writing and brings to life the issues that are germaine to a the lives of two people who are basically good but who have been overwhelmed by the hurts and jealousies that this kind of family rivalry often spawn. Add in the fact that Nicole has been abandoned by everyone she ever thought she could depend upon, and you have a woman who finds herself at the crossroads in her life journey. One of the most interesting characters in the book is her substitute limo driver--a young man named Jeff, who is subbing for his dad. A psychology major in graduate school, Jeff manages to be one of those behind-the-scenes guys that throws in some timely advice and observations that keep Nicole thinking in some much more healthy ways--ways that help her see herself more accurately and give her hope that somehow her life can be redirected into positive actions and activities.
This is a really great novel and one that keeps the reader's interest moving forward. There is certainly animosity between some of the characters but it is nicely balanced with loving friendship and the discovery that there really are people "out there" who can care and offer authentic friendship without strings or emotional blackmail. It is not what I would call erotic romance per se but there is certainly a sexual tension between Nicole and Stephan that begins almost from the first and persists until the very end. Hope, disappointment, caring, betrayal, family, friends, and some jaw-dropping surprises along the way make up a novel that is a very entertaining read. I think you will want to check this one out. I give it a rating of 4.25 out of 5.