A Lick and a Promise, by Jo Leigh

>> Tuesday, May 29, 2007

TITLE: A Lick And A Promise
AUTHOR: Jo Leigh

COPYRIGHT: 2005
PAGES: 249
PUBLISHER: Harlequin Blaze

SETTING: Contemporary
TYPE: Category Romance
SERIES: No

REASON FOR READING: The author. Jo Leigh is one of a handful of Blaze authors I still follow.

Hot 'n sexy...

Food stylist Margot Janowitz's sizzling commercials for a chain of burger joints all scream "Eat Me" on TV, but her sensual adventures offscreen are another story. Until a scrumptious stud arrives on the scene and taste-testing him sounds like a totally mouthwatering idea.

...add up to "Yum!"

Mr. Ultraconservative Daniel Houghton III, moves in next door to Margot and he's just begging to be savored, toyed with and enjoyed. making him over into a wild and sexy lover should be easy for Margot - a piece of cake for a pro when she's working with a perfect set of buns!
THE PLOT: Margo is a hip, cool food stylist, Daniel is the cool, conservative architect who's just moved into her building in Chelsea, trying to bring some new air into his life. The minute she meets him, Margo decides to take him under her wing and help him keep that fresh air coming in. It doesn't hurt that though he's pretty uncool, Daniel is extremely yummy.

MY THOUGHTS: In the past months, I've unsuccessfully tried to read some of the Harlequin Blaze books left in my TBR. I couldn't even really start any of them. The plots seemed all ridiculous, and the ones I thought I could deal with, I abandoned after rolling my eyes for 10 or 15 pages. So when I received my latest M-Bag and found a bunch of Blazes there, I was dismayed. What was I thinking when I bought them? Isn't it obvious I've outgrown them? Well, reading ALAAP, silly title notwithstanding, made me realize it was simply that what's left in my TBR is the left-overs. This is what I want when I read a Blaze, not a collection of contrivances that are supposed to be sexy but are not.

As you can see above (a one-paragraph plot description has to be a record for me), the plot of the book is quite simple... it's just boy-meets-girl, really. But this doesn't mean ALAAP is a simple book. Leigh delivers full-drawn characters who actually feel and act the age they're supposed to be, as well as a complex relationship between them, even if all they're actually doing is falling in love and dealing with the normal pressures of their jobs.

Actually, when I read the first few pages, I had some doubts. I mean, I liked the idea of it being the hero, not the heroine who wants to change his life and stop conforming to everyone's expectations of him. I liked even more that it was the heroine who'd help bring out the wildness in him. But Margo was a bit of a problem. She sees Daniel and immediately thinks what a waste, he's yummy but uncool. He needs a makeover and I'm the one to do it. I disliked her arrogance in just judging Daniel lacking after barely meeting him and deciding she had the right to just walk in and change him.

But you know what? It ended up being fine, because their relationship soon went far beyond makeover giver / makeover receiver (makeoverer / makeoveree? That sounds awful!). And I loved seeing them together. At first, Daniel is just incredibly dazzled by Margo. He's unbelievably shy and serious and has no idea how to handle a woman like her, completely unlike anyone he's ever met. His brain pretty much goes into meltdown whenever he's with her. And she delights in keeping him off-balance, teasing him and saying all kinds of outrageous things to him. This could have fallen flat, but it turned out to be majorly HOT.

And it goes on for just long enough. They're soon beyond this, too, and building a real relationship, even if it's not what either of them intended. This is still just as hot, but the yummy love scenes and their interactions in between them are not just about sex, but about two people getting to know each other and discovering much deeper feelings.

Something else I loved was that neither Daniel nor Margo are living in a vacuum as they get to know each other. They have issues with their jobs, issues which reflect what's going on in their outside-work lives. Margo seems to have bitten off more than she can chew, taking on the food styling for series of hamburger-chain commercials, while Daniel is having trouble keeping on doing boring designs for the boring architectural firm in which he works, when he's having such a good time going beyond the traditional in his personal life. The way they resolve all this is excellently done, too.

MY GRADE: A very solid B+.

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