Harlequin Contemporary Boxed Set #3
Released: September 1, 2014
Reviewed by Mandi
Note: I’m only reviewing two of the four stories in this set. I believe each story will be sold separately sometime in the future.
When the Lights go Down by Amy Jo Cousins
Maxie Tyler is Chicago’s toughest stage manager. Her latest gig is just the break she needs, and she’s not going to let anyone get in her way. Not even the producer with dreamy blue eyes and bespoke suits that fit him perfectly in all the right places.
A successful venture capitalist, Nick Drake is used to calling the shots. He doesn’t care about art unless it turns a profit. This show might prove to be a good investment, but he’s not sure if Maxie Tyler will. Her need to control every detail of the show makes him nervous. So does the fact that they can’t seem to keep their hands off each other.
Scandal and disaster threaten her career, his reputation, and the success of the play. Two people accustomed to being in control will have to trust each other if the show will, indeed, go on. And they’ll have to trust their feelings if their passion is going to last after the last curtain goes down and the lights go up
I quite enjoyed the theater setting in this story. I’m not sure I’ve read a protagonist who is a stage manager, and Maxie is fun and energetic. She is very talented at her high stress, multitasking job. Maxie owns her own company, providing props and stage direction to Chicago’s theater community, but her company is still growing and she is excited for larger projects. When Nick comes into town to save an investment of his mother’s, he is tasked with asking Maxie to run his mother’s theater show before the show runs out of money. These two clash professionally, and in the bedroom.
I feel like I really clicked with Maxie and got to know her well, both professionally and personally with her family life and her blossoming romance with Nick. The problem for me in this story was that I never connected with Nick. I never really felt like I got to know him or understand him. When Nick and Maxie first kiss, it felt off to me. Their chemistry was out of focus. There was just something missing with Nick, which then affected the romance and threw off the story for me.
Falling From the Sky by Sarina Bowen
Bad boy Hank “Hazardous” Lazarus used to have everything: a gorgeous girlfriend, a career as a freestyle snowboarder and a spot on the US Olympic team. Nine months ago, after a bad crash in the half pipe, he woke up in the hospital, unable to move his legs. Now he’s landed there again, but gravity is not the culprit. His family is pressuring him to try a groundbreaking treatment, but Hank self-medicates with a bottle of tequila instead.
Doctor Callie Anders has the courage to restart a patient’s heart with a thousand volts of electricity, yet she’s afraid to risk her own. So she doesn’t confess to her newest patient they they met just before the accident, an encounter that he doesn’t remember. Even as their friendship develops, she won’t admit that she regrets turning down his dinner invitation, or that her heart stutters every time those inked shoulders roll through the door of the therapy department.
With winter coming again, Hank needs a hand out from under the avalanche of his disappointments. If only Callie were brave enough to take the job.
I read the previous story in this series, Coming in From the Cold, and enjoyed Falling From the Sky just as much. Hank Lazarus, nicknamed Hazardous, is a snowboarder, about to head off to the Olympics, when he falls on the halfpipe and becomes paralyzed. Dr. Callie Anders witnessed it, as she was there hanging out with Hank’s good friends (the hero and heroine from book one). She is also at the hospital after Hank’s surgeries and early recovery. We then jump ahead eight months. Hank is in a wheelchair, and while he can sometimes feel things in his legs, he can’t walk. He is frustrated and down in the dumps. He gets too drunk one night with his buddy and ends up getting his stomach pumped at the hospital, where he runs into Callie again. He likes this doctor, and not just for her medical skills. His wealthy family wants Hank to start this new experimental therapy, and at first he declines, but finally gives in demanding that Callie be the one to head it up. Callie has never headed a study like this before, but it’s something new and different for her to try, so she agrees. And then naughty, fun things happen in the romance department.
I’m a big fan of Sarina Bowen and this is a nice story about recovery, trust and love. Callie mentions that Hank radiates masculinity. and the author does a nice job describing that allowing the reader to feel that too. This big, strong man then has to face life wheeling around. Callie is so mature and grounded, her calm presence helps Hank deal with his future and his family who poke and prod a little too much. Hank has to learn to dream of a different future and accept his new normal. It’s very well done and very sexy.
The other two stories in this set are Maid to Love by Rebecca Avery and Start me Up by Kristina Knight.