Mistress by Agreement, by Helen Brooks

>> Monday, December 27, 2004

As you might deduce from the title, this is yet another Harlequin Presents title. I had to meet my grandma at her house and she was running a bit late, so I had an hour to kill and no book! So I just grabbed one of hers at random, a Spanish translation of a Harlequin, Mistress by Agreement (excerpt), by Helen Brooks. The title in Spanish was Sin Amor, "Without Love", which does sound intriguing and much less Presents-ish and explains why I chose it ;-)

From the moment tycoon Kingsley Ward walks into Rosie's office, she recognizes the sexual invitation in his eyes. But when they sign a business agreement and Kingsley makes it clear he wants Rosie as part of the deal, she's outraged!

Kingsley's initial purpose had been business — not pleasure. But Rosie is beautiful and, unbelievably, she seems immune to his charms! Kingsley decides he'll pursue her until he wins her as his mistress…and he's never lost a deal yet!
Well, I must say Mistress by Agreement was a pleasant surprise. While not particularly good, it was a book I was able to read without wanting to bang it against the wall and even enjoy. My grade would be a B-.

This was definitely a case in which the title had absolutely nothing to do with what the book was about. And from what I see at amazon, the book is actually: Mistress by Agreement: In Love With Her Boss. Well, Rosalie isn't Kingsley's mistress (there's even only a short, non-graphic love scene in the epilogue, unless they've cut something in my version, always a possibility), there is no agreement and though Kingsley is a client of Rosalie's architectural firm, he's hardly her boss. In fact, she is a hard-working, successful career woman, so the undertones in that "In love with her boss" thing are completely misleading.

So, this is not a gimmicky, contrived story, but a simple one about a woman who got burned in the first marriage, and so wants nothing to do with men and a man who pursues her. What I liked was that though King was persistent and arrogant, he never crossed the line into dominating and overbearing. He was actually really, really patient with Rosalie, pushing only to know more about her and to know her better.

On the negative side, I could have done with a bit more of King's POV, since the little one-paragraph snatches of his thoughts were not enough. And Rosalie wasn't a particulary easy character to warm up to.

Still, the book did the job. I even took it home with me to finish when my grandma was finally ready to go, something I wasn't expecting I was going to want to do. Oh, and I even kind of liked the cover, which had the same photo as the Presents edition: a couple having an intimate dinner with the London Bridge in the background. Nice!


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