Gates’ (Walking to Israel, 2014) novel, set in 2003, is split into two interlocking parts: One is set in Milwaukee, the other in France. Tyler is a handsome, brash international executive for a major American telecom company, GlobeAll, looking to close a substantial deal in France. But Delphine, the chief negotiator for the French company, FranceFon, resists signing on the dotted line. Their tug of war becomes more complicated when their attraction threatens to blossom into something more than professional friendliness. She eventually discloses the source of her discomfort with the deal—she strongly suspects Tyler’s company of deeply unethical and illegal practices. Later, back in Milwaukee, Carly, a GlobeAll regional executive, hears swirling rumors about her company, and she soon makes Tyler’s acquaintance. They struggle to process the revelations about the company they love and discover that they share a crackling sexual tension. The artful prose effectively captures the sensual dynamism that underscores the entire narrative: “He held the bottle up to her, smiling again, so beguiling that he hardly resembled the man she’d recently known. He seemed like the one she’d met last summer, the one who’d gazed longingly and listened patiently and loved so thoroughly that it still made her wet to recall.” The author also does a credible job of educating readers about the complexities of the telecom industry without burying them in confusing jargon or gratuitous detail. (Gates is an international telecom expert and even went to the same business school as her protagonist, Tyler.) She also nicely juxtaposes the jagged cynicism of big business with the tenderness of the love stories.
A light, entertaining tale of love and commercial intrigue.