A corporate merger reunites a businesswoman with her former husband in the first novel in Mann’s (Intoxicated, 2016, etc.) new series.
A trip to her local coffee shop brings Dakota Atwell face to face with a man she hasn’t seen in a decade. It is Samuel Seaforth, her former husband, a man she still loves (“He was taller than I remembered, his shoulders broader and his hair blonder”). Their marriage was happy until the day Samuel’s wealthy father offered her a bribe in exchange for divorcing his son. Faced with a mother who needed cardiac surgery and a younger brother’s legal troubles, she accepted the proposal and broke Samuel’s heart. Later that morning, she is shocked to discover that his company, Infinity Enterprises, has acquired a controlling interest in her employer, Harmony Developments. Samuel has every reason to despise Dakota and fire her on the spot; however, her employment contract precludes immediate dismissal. Intent on humiliating her the way she humiliated him, he moves her to a small cubicle and assigns her menial tasks under his close supervision. Despite his desire for revenge, Samuel is still attracted to Dakota. When work on a business deal leads to a night of temptation, Dakota and Samuel must decide whether their love is stronger than the pain of the past. Mann’s erotic romance is a pleasant surprise in a crowded genre. The strongest elements of the novel are its unusual, multilayered narrative structure and solid character development. The chapters alternate between Dakota's and Samuel’s points of view, and frequent flashbacks reveal the progression of their relationship, from their initial meeting to the circumstances surrounding their divorce. It is an ambitious way to tell their story, and Mann’s risk pays off thanks to clear transitions between the flashbacks and the present-day episodes. The framework also helps to establish Dakota’s motivations for accepting the deal that ended her marriage and the haunting guilt she feels for hurting Samuel. Telling part of the tale from Samuel’s perspective offers insight into how the divorce affected him and how his lingering feelings for Dakota temper his passion for retribution.
Erotic and emotionally charged, the nuanced narrative elevates this office romance.