Ulterior Motives, by Laura Leone

>> Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Years ago, Laura Leone wrote quite a few categories, which stand out as some of the most original and fresh that I've ever read. I've bought quite a few and I allow myself to read one every now and then. Earlier this week, I read Ulterior Motives, from 1989.


Language center director Shelley Baird thought she had just lined up the biggest contract of her career. Then corporate troubleshooter Ross Tanner came along, and suddenly nothing was the same. Not only did Ross work for Shelley's biggest competitor, he was after her client. But that didn't stop Ross from trying to romance her.

Shelley couldn't resist Ross's casual elegance or his spine-tingling kisses. She knew she shouldn't mix business with pleasure, but when he uttered his words of love she wanted to believe he was telling her the truth. Should she trust him? Her head said, "No way!" But her heart spoke a different language ...
A few days ago a friend returned a book I'd lent her and told me she'd loved it (it was All Night Long, by Michelle Jerott, BTW). When I asked why, she simply said that the characters were very much people. Well, Laura Leone writes people, too. Not contrived, walking clichés, but real people; grown-ups who you wouldn't be surprised if they existed in real life. I enjoyed this one so much I have to give it an A-.

Shelley and Ross' relationship had an emotional element that made it a joy to read. They had really wonderful chemistry, and Leone succeeded beautifully in showing us how they fall in love and why. She didn't simply tell us about their feelings, she showed us, and they came across very clearly to me. Oh, and they were quite steamy together. ;-)

As the characters, the plot was very un-contrived. There was nothing here that smelled fishy, or screamed "only in romance novels!!!". Just people who liked each other immensely, but who happened to work for rival companies and had to try to juggle their growing relationship with doing the best job they knew how to do.

I especially enjoyed the fact that Shelley was great at her job (if she had had the tools she needed, Ross wouldn't have had an easy job) and had very firm work ethic. I very much respected her refusal to take the easy way out and simply resign and go to work for her company's competitors. I know I would have resigned in a minute, so it wasn't that I would have done the same, but I understood and respected her choice.

Oh, and as a final note, I really enjoyed the language schools setting, and the way this book was more "conscious" than most to the fact that there is a wide, wide world beyond the US. Most romance novels are terrible insular in that respect, which makes me appreciate the ones that aren't all the more. And it's kind of funny, but I believe this must be the only romance I've ever read where there isn't even one mistake in the foreign languages that I could detect. I've read too many which try to insert foreign phrases and fail, so this is quite an accomplishment.


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