The Real Deal by Lucy Monroe
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Amanda Zachary came to Simon Brant's house to talk the reclusive, scientific genius into agreeing to a merger with her employing company, and ends up falling in love. Divorced for two years, and not desirous of marrying again after her husband destroyed every inch of her belief in herself as a woman, she doesn't expect for Simon Brant to inspire such powerful sexual feelings in her. Although he's absent-minded, prone to going off in his lab when she's in the middle of giving her presentation, he's really hot, with a great body and a great mind. Amanda gets the idea from Jacob, Simon's irascible valet to stay at his house, so she can be around when he deigns to come out of his lab. But then he does incomprehensible things like volunteering to spend time brushing her up on her Tai Kwon Do moves, getting very up close and personal, and spending time with her that has nothing to do with discussing the merger details. She's totally feeling him, but is he feeling her? After her husband, she can't trust her feminine instincts, and she doesn't want to get hurt. She can't risk a sexual affair, when she doesn't feel beautiful, and she's never been casual about sex in the first place. But it turns out she's not the only one with feelings in this strange relationship she finds herself in.
Simon Brant has his own insecurities. He was a prodigy who ended up in college at fifteen, surrounded by older girls who used him for his 'talents' and his prodigious endowments. He's had relationships with women, but they always leave him because he doesn't spend enough time with them, his focus always going back to his scientific projects. He's started to wonder if women are worth the trouble, if they will just leave him when they get tired of his ways. And Amanda comes along. She's sexy and beautiful, and doesn't seem to know it. He can't keep his hands off her, and he is starting to care for her. But will she leave him too, when she realizes that he's never going to be like everyone else?
Don't let the light-hearted, 'chick-lit'-like cover fool you. This book was not exactly like that. It's not particularly light, but wasn't dark, either. I expected more of a slapstick/snappy banter 40s romantic comedy vibe, but that wasn't there. Instead, the heavy focus is on the emotions that Amanda and Simon struggle through, each full of insecurities, and the powerful attraction between them. Lucy Monroe has a straightforward, easy reading style that made this book a quick read. I liked the sweetness of the romance, although the love scenes are very sensual.
Amanda is a very nice woman who really got screwed by her family and her husband. What he did, and what her family allowed him to do was criminal. She internalized all of that and decided that there must have been something about her that made her unlovable and undesirable. She is very slow on the uptake to believe that Simon might want her, and cannot conceive that he could love her. It takes some heavy wooing on Simon's part, but he is not a man to fail at anything. Simon is sometimes clueless about how to react to others, and spends a lot of time analyzing what Amanda says and does and what it means. But he is also a sensual, warm man, and was able to trust his instincts to guide him in coaxing Amanda into realizing how beautiful, sexy, and lovable she is. I liked his 'geeky' bent, although I feel that Ms. Monroe should have gave him a few more nerdy traits, because it seemed like the nerd thing was an afterthought. I think that internally he was a nerd, but maybe she was afraid it would turn off readers if he had some of the exterior trappings. Nerds can be sexy even if they seem awkward too (it's the whole 'still waters run deep' thing). He seemed to have a little too much confidence in himself to have had his experiences in life. I would have expected a bit more uncertainty and social awkwardness to come off in his personality for what he had experienced as a younger man. And how did he attract all these women who essentially used him for sex? Those kind of shallow women wouldn't go for an intellectual type who wasn't flattering them with constant attention. That didn't quite ring true for me, because I know pretty cute guys who are on the nerdy side, and they don't get that kind of chick action.
I really ended up liking this book, devouring it very quickly. It's sexy but sweet, and that is an irresistible combination for this reader. I'd recommend it to readers who want a sexier read, but like the Harlequin-type contemporary romance vibe. Overall rating: 4.5/5.0 stars.
Thanks to Julie for encouraging me to pull this one out of my tbr pile!
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