Goodness Had Nothing to Do With It, by Lucy Monroe

>> Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Lucy Monroe's The Real Deal was one of my biggest guilty pleasure reads last year. I didn't like it enough to actually go and seek out more of her books, but when someone offered me her Goodness Had Nothing to Do With It (extras), I snapped it up. Sometimes I am in a guilty pleasure mood!

Surprise, Surprise

The last woman business consultant Marcus Danvers expects to find at Kline Electronics is Veronica Richards. He’s supposed to be rooting out a corporate spy, not rehashing an old love affair—with the woman who sold out the company they both used to work for and then took off without so much as a kiss goodbye. All the clues point to Ronnie as the firm’s newest mole, which means he’ll have to spend time with the stubbornly reticent woman he hasn’t been able to forget, and uncover every last thing she has to hide…

Fancy Seeing You Here

It’s just Ronnie’s luck. The one man she’d hoped never to see again is suddenly everywhere she looks—and taking up a starring role in her daydreams, too. Remembering the passion she and Marcus once shared certainly isn’t going to help, though, not when she has so many secrets, and no explanation for the way she left him eighteen months ago—or at least not one he’ll want to hear. The problem is, when Marcus is around all her good intentions go up in smoke…
Guilty pleasure yet again, though the pleasure part was more muted here than it was in The Real Deal, especially in the last part of the book. A C+.

It became clear to me right after starting the book that the events taking place here were a continuation of the action inCome Up and See Me Sometime. It stands alone very well, though. In that first book, Veronica worked as Marcus' secretary and they became lovers. Not long after that, needing money to pay for an experimental treatment for her sick sister, Ronnie sold some company secrets to her employer's competitors and ran away. And she didn't tell Marcus that she was pregnant, either.

As GHNTDWI starts, it's 18 months later and Marcus' company has been hired to investigate possible industrial espionage in the company Ronnie is now working for. One of the first persons he sees is Ronnie, and his first reaction is to think he's got his culprit right there. But he's never been able to forget her, and as he starts discovering some of her secrets, including her reasons to do what she did, he becomes increasingly convinced that she's not the spy he's looking for.

GHNTDWI feels very much like a longer, padded, sexier Harlequin Presents title. I'm far from the line's biggest fan, but I'll concede that when they're well done, they make for some excellent guilty pleasures, and as I said above, this definitely was that. I'm changing my vote for Guiltiest Pleasure for the AAR poll. Good thing I hadn't sent the ballot in, yet.

Why guilty?

Reason #1: The secret baby... emphasis on secret. Ronnie has absolutely no justification for having hid the kid from Marcus. That "I was afraid he'd take him from me" reasoning makes no sense, considering the main reason she hadn't confided in Marcus and had just left without saying good-bye had been that she was so sure he wanted absolutely no commitments or responsibilities. Like a son, say?

Reason #2: "I needed to sell those corporate secrets because my sister had a rare, incurable disease and I needed the money for treatment" Cue violins. Maybe I'm a bitch, but come on! I'd have prefered something less manipulative and clichéd.

Reason #3: Conflicts set up a mile in advance and with the subtlety of a sledgehammer, all depending on characters acting stupidly. Case in point: Ronnie's handling of the incriminating email she finds in the server (and of course, that's not even the worst thing about this particular episode: what imbecile would set up the sale of corporate secrets using a corporate email checked by multiple people?).

Reason #4: The last 100 pages were pure padding. The conflict lost all steam, and I just wasn't too interested in what was going on. It was this part of the book which lowered my grade from a very generous B- to a C+.

Why pleasure?

Reason #1: Marcus. He was a pretty sweet guy, and I liked that he didn't let a pretty traumatic past make him an SOB. I enjoyed his pursuit of Ronnie: persistent, and yet not obnoxious.

Reason #2: As much as I hated the reasons for Ronnie hiding his son from Marcus, the scenes in which he finds out are good, even if my heartstrings are still sore after so much determined pulling by the author.

Reason #3: Same thing about the scenes in which Marcus finds out exactly why Ronnie betrayed his company. He's really hurt that she refused to trust him and confide in him, and yet, it was his own fault for having gone on and on about how it could only be just sex between them and about how he didn't do commitment. Was Ronnie supposed to read his mind to find out he'd started to think about a future with her? Whatever, I loved this!

I'm still not a fan of Monroe after this one, but I'd probably read another one, if I find a cheap copy.


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