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In Longden’s debut novel, a young widow becomes the housekeeper to a wealthy, difficult man—and realizes her potential.

Californian Sydney Holmes had been performing odd, temporary jobs for years following the deaths of her husband and children, when she applies to be a personal secretary and housekeeper for Jason Jamieson. Sydney is beautiful, with a propensity for wearing low-backed dresses, and a slow simmer of tension starts to build between her and her employer, a prominent corporate executive whose temper and coldness are gradually proven to mask a sense of compassion. As Sydney takes on greater responsibility at Jason’s firm, and as she demonstrates her thoughtfulness over the course of their live-in professional relationship—particularly during Jason’s health crisis—Jason cannot help but reconsider their platonic situation. The novel tells an age-old story (rich man, poor woman who teaches him virtues) through a string of anecdotes, which, while sometimes touching, lacks the specifics that would ground the story or distinguish it from previous, similar iterations. For instance, Sydney seems intended to be close to perfect, but her actions and dialogue instead make her seem abrasive. Jason, whose handsomeness is understood (though we have no idea what he looks like) and whose position is important (though what he does, exactly, remains ambiguous), doesn’t have many depicted attributes beyond an affinity for poker. We are told what he is like, but we do not witness it. Some of the dialogue perplexes (“ ‘Don’t get fat, Sydney.’ ‘Who cares?’ ‘About five guys who will see you shortly.’ ‘You’re sweet.’ ”) or aggravates (“ ‘I like it when you get angry; the minute you get defeated you have a beautiful look about you. You succumb,’ Jason said”). Other exchanges, however, bristle with playful yet demure sexiness; it’s in those moments that the chemistry between Sydney and Jason becomes unmistakable—and thoroughly enjoyable. The message of redemption through love is an admirable one, but that message too often becomes overshadowed by episodes and language that cause stumbling rather than smooth progression toward the end.

A vague relationship saga with a commonplace plot. 

Pub Date: Sept. 24th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1489582133
Page count: 326pp
Publisher: CreateSpace
Program: Kirkus Indie
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