Title: Rules of Negotiation
Author: Inara Scott
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
May Contain Spoilers
He let her make the rules…
NYC’s most eligible bachelor, Brit Bencher, is also known as The Slayer for his reputation in the boardroom…and the bedroom. And he’ll do anything to take care of his family, even seduce high-powered corporate attorney Tori Anderson in the hopes of getting her to reveal confidential information about one of her clients. But for the first time in his life, he finds he’s falling for a woman.
…and then he started to break them.
After juggling the demands of her career and the stress of caring for her ailing mother, Tori Anderson doesn’t have time for relationships—but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to feel like a woman. When Brit offers a no-strings attached fling, it sounds like exactly what she needs. But what will she do when Brit decides he won’t take “one night stand” for an answer? When Tori uncovers his lies, will he lose his chance with her forever?
I jumped eagerly into Rules of Negotiation, curious to see if Inara Scott’s transition for YA to adult romance would work for me. I read The Candidates a few years ago and enjoyed it, though I was getting burned out on paranormal romances for the teen scene at the time. As I fired up my iPad and started turning virtual pages, I wondered if I would find the voice of her adult characters as convincing as her teens. After about 30 pages, I was happy to discover that I liked it better.
I was immediately engaged in the story, especially after Brit implemented his master plan to get his sister a job by exploiting Tori’s contact list. Tori has no clue what Brit’s after, but she is immediately suspicious of his attentions. She doesn’t think she is the type of woman that men start drooling over, and she doesn’t trust that he’s only interested in her. There’s also the ethical question about a conflict of interest; she is representing a party currently in negotiations to be purchased by Brit’s monster corporation. Using that as a shield, her defenses are quickly breached when he offers a better deal than expected. Throwing her reservations to the wind, she allows him to wine and dine her, but stops short of falling completely for his seductions. It’s a good thing, too, considering his snaky ulterior motives.
What I liked about this read is that no matter how badly I wanted to hate on Brit for trying to take advantage of Tori, I just couldn’t do it. I liked him too much. I could easily see the guarded Tori falling for this guy, liar though he is. While he likes Tori and enjoys her company, his major motivation for trying to get close to her is to get a foot in the door for his jobless sister. One she doesn’t even want. I’ll admit that Tori makes his quest easier, because she is so emotionally damaged that she won’t trust anyone. She is overworked, overstressed, and she’s long overdue to let down her hair and just have some fun. When she’s with Brit, she has fun, so I could understand her lack of resistance to the guy.
Tori and her mother were abandoned by her father when she was a young girl, and neither she nor her mother have gotten over his betrayal. Tori thinks that she isn’t worthy of love, because why else would he have left? Now that her mother is suffering from Alzheimer’s, she has even more heartache to drag around with her. This broke my heart. Tori has nobody to love her, and she hasn’t for a long time. Her mother doesn’t even know who she is half the time, and she misses the relationship that they had. Tori’s drive to be successful stems from her need to provide the best care for her mother. She eats, sleeps, and dreams her job, hoping to be made partner soon, so some of her financial burdens will be eased. It doesn’t hurt that when she is working 24/7, she doesn’t have time to think about everything that is lacking in her life.
Even though I wanted to strangle Brit for his initial deception, I have to admit that I thought they made a great couple. Tori didn’t take any crap from him, and he allowed her to let loose and have some of the fun she desperately needed. When she finally puts two and two together and discovers that it adds up to a rat, she is infuriated. I was, too! He didn’t think he had done anything wrong! It’s a good thing he quickly developed a guilty conscience, because the story would have fallen apart for me if he hadn’t swiftly realized, and tried to mend, the error of his ways.
So what didn’t I like? I thought the resolution to Tori’s problems was a little too pat. While I believe that Tori and Brit are good for each other, I wish that she hadn’t forgiven him so quickly. He should have been made to squirm a little more. So, obviously, she has a more forgiving nature than I do. And while it was wonderful to see Tori continue to take big emotional risks, I just wish that ending hadn’t been tied up quite so quickly. Everything fell into place so quickly that my head started to spin.
Rules of Negotiation offers engaging characters, plenty of hawt and sexy flirting, and a heroine who deserves to find both a happily ever after and the courage to embrace it.
Grade: Waffling between B and B+
Review copy provided by publisher