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REVIEW: Sex, Straight Up by Kathleen O’Reilly

Dear Mrs. O’Reilly,

sex-straight-up.jpgHow do you do it? How do you make accountants sexy? No offense to any number crunchers out there, especially at this time of year, but the profession isn’t up there on the sexy-job-o-meter. Daniel’s brothers, the lawyer and the bartender, have jobs that could be considered babe-magnets but it takes a special woman to appreciate his talent with an audit and, bless his heart, I’m glad he finds her in Catherine.

Catherine’s initial impression of Daniel seems spot on. He’s a lonely Odysseus, longing for his wife. Only in Daniel’s case, his wife is dead and he’ll never see her, hold her or laugh with her again. He knows most people, including his brothers, hope that he’ll get back to normal eventually, especially since it’s now six years after her loss. But as his mother-in-law says, she never expected to bury her daughter nor he his wife and their lives will never be “back to normal” again. All they can do is struggle on.

Catherine realizes none of this at first. All she sees is a sexy man whom she itches to draw. Her talent is good but not great which is fine since her real job is appraising the antiques and priceless treasures sold by her grandfather’s world renowned auction house. There she’s excellent though still reluctant to put herself forward since she’s a quiet type unlike her people oriented mother and grandfather.

Daniel hates making small talk but finds himself at ease with this pretty woman who demands nothing of him except to enjoy the sunny day at the Hamptons. They later find themselves enjoying an encounter of quite a different kind, one which rocks Catherine’s world and begins to make Daniel realize just how much he’s cut himself off from the world and it’s pleasures.

Neither thinks to continue what they started once they’re back in the city but fate intervenes landing Daniel in charge of the audit of the Montefiore auction house. Rumors have turned into an investigation into whether the house has colluded with a rival to match their sales schedule and thus inflate sales prices. An auction house lives or dies by its reputation and if proven, this would ruin Montefiore.

Accountant Man to the rescue! Or maybe not since neither Daniel nor Catherine can find anything, anything at all, to clear her grandfather of the charges. Until Daniel’s methodical nature unearths exactly what’s going on. In the meantime their relationship heats up, his wedding ring comes off and Gabe and Sean start to sniff out the fact that their brother might finally be willing to risk a new love in his life. But will Catherine wait for him to realize it too?

I love how you work Daniel’s profession into the heart of this story. Guns won’t solve the problem, only a sharp eye for numbers and a willingness to sift through pages and pages of data. Catherine’s eyes might cross after ten hours of it but Daniel is in his element. And while her mother might believe in Catherine’s ability to do more in the auction house, it’s her assistance in solving the investigation that helps Catherine realize the abilities she’s always had inside her.

And while Daniel has his moments of anguish, he’s neither drowning in it nor willing to throw it off too quickly once he’s met Catherine. Feelings this deep rooted take time and I’m glad you give that to him as well as to Catherine to believe that he finally has. I love this almost final scene.

It was a typical Manhattan apartment. There were no burning candles, or needlepointed wedding announcements. The couch was brown leather, bacheloresque, but tasteful bacheloresque. It seemed spacious-sanitized, and then she saw the picture hanging in the corner. It wasn’t a wedding picture, or a photograph of Michelle and Daniel together. It was her sketch. Framed, matted and looking as if it belonged there.

She walked over and looked at it, looked at her scrawled signature in the corner, and Catherine started to cry. She didn’t like to cry around people. Crying was something private and personal, and implied ties, but the tears slid unchecked down her cheeks.

He came up close behind, almost touching her, but not quite. He even lifted his hands, but then forced them back down to his sides.

"I didn’t mean to hurt you," he said, and she could tell where this was going. She wiped her face and headed for the door, but he caught her. This time, he did touch her.

"I didn’t want to love you. I didn’t want to love anybody. You didn’t ask for anything, you didn’t demand anything, you never took, only gave and then gave some more, and I was the one who was taking everything, bleeding you dry, and I knew it, too. But you didn’t whine or complain. I think that’s the reason I fell in love with you."

Catherine sniffed once. "You make me sound like a doormat."

He whacked himself on the forehead with his palm, but his eyes were soft. "I’m so bad at words. I think that’s why I’m an accountant. Gabe and Sean, they can talk. Not me. Never could. You’re no doormat, Catherine. You have no idea how strong you are, how talented you are, how special you are. But I do. I didn’t expect it because you hide it so well from everybody, and you kept surprising me."

She took a step back, until there was a safe distance between them. "What are you doing?"

"I don’t know what I’m doing, but I am tired of being alone, and I didn’t know I was tired of being alone until I met you."

"Just me?"

"Yup. Just you. When I saw you on the beach, I knew I didn’t have anything to be scared of. You were so much like me that it was easy. So quiet, so lonely, but you weren’t going to be with just anyone. You had to find the exact right person, and thankfully I think it’s me."

"I don’t know," she said, because Catherine was smart and careful and wasn’t going to be with just anyone.

"I love you, Catherine."

He was waiting for her to share, but these things he was talking about were serious and forever, and Catherine didn’t take serious and forever lightly. She didn’t think Daniel did, either, but she had been through so much with him, for him, because of him. She wasn’t ready. Not yet.

"Why aren’t you saying anything?" he asked, looking nervous.

"I’m not sure."

"About saying something, or about this?"

"About this."

"Will you try? Please, take a chance, Catherine. I deserve a chance. I know that now. I deserve a chance."

It surprised her that he expected her to give in so easily, but she’d learned some things since they’d been together. She was stronger. "Maybe this is temporary."

"Catherine, do you know me?"

"Yes."

"I don’t think temporary is going to be my problem."

Okay, he was probably right there. But the list of bad possibilities went on. "I’m not Michelle."

"I know that."

"What if somebody comes along that’s, you know, more like her?" Catherine asked, which was her polite way of saying that she wasn’t some knockout in a Vera Wang gown, and her skirts would always hang a little off, and she would give up buttercream cupcakes for no man, so if he was going to take her, this was what he got.

"If I meet another woman like Michelle, I’ll smile nicely and then go home and make love to the woman I love, and think how lucky I am to have someone like you who wants to be with someone like me."

And he believed it. He honestly believed that he was the lucky one. At which time, Catherine decided to admit that maybe, possibly, it was worth a try.

She went to him then. "We try," she said, clutching at the teardrop hanging from her neck.

His arms were outstretched. "Good."

Ah, very sweet. Though I have to say that if the woman on the book cover thinks her butt is too big, she needs to take a look at mine. B+

~Jayne

available in ebook (and on sale!) or mmp

And for 3 lucky people, a free autographed (No, not by me. By Kathleen!) copy of Sex, Straight Up. Okay, you know the drill. Add a comment to the review before Wednesday, March 26 at midnight EST for a chance at some sexy goodness.

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

67 Comments

  1. Marg
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 05:22:14

    I haven’t read any Kathleen O’Reilly books yet, but I have seen a couple in the DA BWAHA that look really good so she is definitely on my radar now!

  2. Leslee
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 05:45:07

    This is the second review I have seen of a gooooood catagory romance. I am definitely going to have to check these out! I love touching romances like this between normal people. I got teary reading the exerpt.

  3. Anna Marie
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 06:19:35

    This book sounds great. I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy.

  4. Danielle
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 06:40:41

    I haven’t read this book yet, but I have to admit that I’ve been buying more Harlequin Blaze books that I have in the past.

  5. Jayne
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 06:42:27

    Marg, how long does it take for category books to be released down under?

  6. Pam P
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 06:50:48

    Sounds like a good romance, might have to try some more Blazes again. I’ve run across a sexy accountant, or two, in my town, believe it or not.

  7. vanessa jaye
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 06:52:22

    I have the first book in my tbr pile, I kept picking up and putting back this second one in the series (to be honest, neither the title nor the blurb were very enticing and I’ve just discovered KR, so she’s not an auto-buy). This review makes me think I just snatch this one up the next time I’m in the store.

  8. sula
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 06:54:56

    Thank you for reminding me that I have a Kathleen O’Reilly Harlequin e-book that I need to read. This post jogged my memory, and I’m two chapters in now. I likee. Sign me up for the contest! :)

  9. JessicaMcG
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 07:35:27

    I agree Pam, I haven’t read a Blaze in a while but this review just might bring me back.

  10. kathybaug
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 07:37:20

    Ohhhh, this sounds nice. Enter me in the contest, please.

  11. Larissa
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 07:40:50

    I actually do audits in real life and I have never ever seen an accountant hero, or at least one that doesn’t fit the stereotype…(which is not always true, ha ha ha) I would love to read this book :)

  12. Sarah
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 08:04:37

    I’d love a chance to win! I was very impressed by Shaken and Stirred. This sounds like another great group of characters.

  13. joanne
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 08:05:08

    That’s some really nice writing so this one goes on my to-buy list, thank you for a nice review Jayne.

    But Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb…. with her Roarke made “men working with numbers” very sexy… very sexy indeed.

  14. Gina
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 08:05:19

    I enjoyed Shaken and Stirred alot so please enter me too!

  15. Susan G
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 08:15:56

    So many books, so little time! But I’d love to read this one.

  16. azteclady
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 08:37:23

    Please please please, put my name in the hat!

  17. Carrie Lofty
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 08:41:23

    I’d really dig a sexy contemp right now. And hawt accountants rock. Please enter me in the drawing. :)

  18. Jill Myles
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 09:00:03

    I just read SHAKEN & STIRRED over the weekend and thought it was terrific. Now I’m on a Blaze glom. :)

  19. limecello
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 09:03:32

    This book sounds great- and an accountant hero – well that works for me, especially around as you said this time of year :P. What wouldn’t be hot about a nice, sexy guy who can take care of all your tax work ;-)

  20. Caitie
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 09:03:50

    I seem to remember that the hero in Shelley Bradley’s “Bound and Determined” was a sexy accountant/number cruncher of some kind too. Actually, after checking the back of that book, Rafe is an “electronic security expert,” but since your review still managed to remind me of Bound and Determined (a fav. of mine), I’d love to be entered in the draw :)

  21. Jayne
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 09:22:24

    What wouldn’t be hot about a nice, sexy guy who can take care of all your tax work ;-)

    God yes! I loathe doing my taxes. And mine aren’t all that difficult either.

  22. Jane
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 09:23:06

    I can’t decide if I liked this one better than Shaken and Stirred or not. I though O’Reilly did a wonderful job incorporating the 9-11 tragedy into the story.

  23. Samantha
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 09:26:07

    I’ve got Shaken and Stirred sitting on my bedside waiting to go after I finish the two books I’m reading right now. This one sounds so good too.

  24. Sherry Thomas
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 09:30:54

    Hey, I’m an accountant and trust me, there are sexy accountants out there. I mean, have you ever heard a presentation on Merger & Acquisition taxation issues? ::fans self::

    And I’ll be buying Kathleen’s books myself, thank you very much.

  25. Stephanie H.
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 09:54:39

    This book looks great! Thanks for the review.

  26. Jia
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 09:56:17

    I haven’t gotten around to reading this one yet but obviously I need to soon! I loved Shaken and Stirred.

    (Don’t enter me into the drawing, please.)

  27. MaryKate
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 09:59:54

    Sexy accountants?? I’m in!

  28. Jennifer McKenzie
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 10:02:35

    This actually sounds awesome!!!! I haven’t read too many blazes I’d like but this sounds interesting.
    Is it bad that I really want to see how he solves the problem?

  29. Kerry
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 10:16:53

    Please enter me in the drawing because the sexy accountant plus an antiques expert is an awesome combo!

    Engineers are sexy too–maybe Ms. O’Reilly can turn her attention to them next? And maybe librarians? Nice normal librarians?

  30. Keishon
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 10:30:32

    Will buy this in ebook, thanks for the review, Jayne. I already have a couple of this author’s books in my ebook stacks I think from other DA reviews.

  31. Jill D.
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 10:43:36

    I am usually not one for category romances but I did read Beyond Breathless last year and I thought it was pretty good.

  32. GrowlyCub
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 10:44:26

    I just found Shaken & Stirred over the weekend (used, all my efforts to give money to the author in a brick and mortar store were for naught and I went to about 10 different ones, talk about aggravating! The month isn’t even over yet, and I really think Harlequin isn’t doing itself any favors by this release schedule, by the time buzz has been created for a book it’s off the shelves!) and I’d love a chance at winning the sequel. That excerpt is just lovely.

    I remember all the negative sentiment about Blaze when the line started and so it was a pleasant surprise to read a few through our online e-book library in TN last year.

    I buy by author and own quite a few Blazes now (probably about 100 or so). One author I really like is Kristin Hardy. And apart from the time-travel (ick) Jennifer LaBrecque’s done good stuff, too.

  33. CC
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 10:58:58

    Blaze and Next are the only two HQ lines I ever really look at anymore- unfortunately I have to special order both lines because they’re not carried in the limited shelf space of my small town- Now I have to go to the bookstore over lunch and order Shaken and Stirred and hope I win here

  34. Laura Elliott
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 11:08:47

    I’d like to read this. Throw my name in the hat, please.

  35. Sarai
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 11:13:13

    Wow I love it when the guys who have everyday jobs are made to look sexy! Sign me up!

  36. Samantha
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 11:21:59

    Ooh, I guess I need to check this author out. Great excerpt.

  37. Lizzy
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 11:52:03

    I just read this book last week. I preferred it to Shaken and Stirred. Also, I just read (this month’s) Blaze “Putting it to the Test” and thought it was fairly memorable. (If anyone’s out looking for another Blaze recommendation.) They’re hot computer programmers/web designers. I agree: Blaze is about the only HQ line I read anymore. These tycoons are really too much.

  38. Helen
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 11:55:11

    The previous book “Shaken and Stirred” was a real surprise to me. I had drifted away from series books by and large, but based on the review here I picked it up and enjoyed it. Looking forward to this one, would love to win it
    Helen

  39. Liviania
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 12:31:01

    This sounds like a great romance. I go crazy for novels with realistically portrayed grief.

    Also, an accountant? Yum. I’m tired of police officers, cowboys, etc.

    Go ahead and put my name in the ring. ^_~

  40. Sherri D.
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 12:41:45

    My husband’s a CPA and he just gets hotter by the year. It’s those quiet guys that will surprise you! I’d love to read about this accountant. Please put my name in the hat.

  41. Bev Stephans
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 13:01:00

    This sounds great! We have an accountant in the family and he too is shy but pretty hunky. Maybe I’ll get him to read this! LOL.

  42. limecello
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 13:42:59

    What wouldn't be hot about a nice, sexy guy who can take care of all your tax work ;-)

    God yes! I loathe doing my taxes. And mine aren't all that difficult either.

    Jayne, haha, I’m double quoting… I’m sure my taxes aren’t that difficult either, considering I make nothing – but I’m a “grad student” – so I slough all my tax stuff on my parents and have them take it to their accountant :X *angelface*

  43. Theresa
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 14:17:28

    I checked out Ms. O’Reilly webpage after seeing a review of another of her books and I’d love to win a copy of this one!

  44. Little Lamb Lost
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 14:42:48

    Sexy accountant…that is unusual. Would need to peek into this one.

  45. Linzi Conners
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 15:26:43

    I’d love to win this book! Thanks for the chance! :)

  46. Kimbelina
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 17:01:49

    Count me in, please!

  47. Lizbeth
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 17:45:08

    The heroine of Howling at the Moon (Karen MacInerney, Ballantine) is an auditor–and a werewolf. She wants normal but it’s not necessarily going to happen…

    Enter me in drawing, please.

  48. Jayne
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 18:39:45

    GrowlyCub, the reason we decided to go ahead and post this review now even though the book isn’t due out until next week is to stoke interest in it in time for readers to find it on bookstore shelves. Categories have such a short shelf life….

  49. KCO
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 19:20:32

    Categories have such a short shelf life….

    Why can’t they keep selling the ebook versions? I can see why the print versions are no longer on store shelves, but I wish I could find ebooks of some Harlequins that are only a few months old.

  50. GrowlyCub
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 21:17:36

    Jayne, I think that’s an excellent idea! I went ahead and overcame my extreme dislike of the awful, badly designed eharlequin site and went ahead and ordered it and a few other things tonight.

    They have free shipping till midnight and new folks get $4.00 off after signing up.

    Still think their site’s a disgrace, but the ordering actually went fairly smoothly. Now to see how long it will take them to actually get the books to me.

  51. Jane
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 21:21:46

    KCO – where are you looking for those ebooks because eharlequin’s website sells all its ebooks and I think fictionwise and booksonboard has an extensive backlist.

  52. Tracy
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 21:54:26

    I just read the first one in this series and I loved it!! Can’t wait to read this. Winning it would be awesome!

  53. AB
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 22:12:00

    Can I please be entered too?

    (Although I’ll admit I think I will be buying this trilogy either way!)

  54. SusanL
    Mar 25, 2008 @ 03:09:10

    This sounds good. I think I’ll be on the lookout for this trilogy, with or without an autographed copy.

  55. Karen B
    Mar 25, 2008 @ 13:33:27

    This book sounds wonderful, please add me to the list.

    Being an accountant myself, I must admit that there are some really sexy male accountants out there. :D

  56. Maureen
    Mar 25, 2008 @ 17:09:30

    I think it’s great that she used an accountant as a hero.

  57. Shannon
    Mar 25, 2008 @ 19:30:19

    huh. I am starting to think I need to give the catagory romances another chance. This is the second or third one I have seen in the past week with rave reviews.

  58. Felicia
    Mar 26, 2008 @ 14:34:47

    I have to agree with Shannon, maybe I’ll give catagory romances a try. And use your site as a guide to avoid the “willing virgins”.

  59. Jayne
    Mar 27, 2008 @ 15:04:23

    Okay, listen up posters. The three winners of a copy of “Sex, Straight Up” are ….drumroll…

    Post #15 Susan G
    Post # 29 Kerry
    Post # 45 Linzi Conners.

    Ladies, email me (Jayne @ dearauthor.com) with your snail mail addresses and I’ll get the books in the mail to you.

  60. azteclady
    Mar 27, 2008 @ 15:06:16

    Congrats to the winners!

  61. Phyl
    Apr 05, 2008 @ 22:29:52

    I finished this today and had to come back to the review to leave a comment. Once again I’m very impressed at how well a category with its limited word count can pack such a punch as this one did. Did anyone go to a calendar to figure out what day Day 104 mentioned in the Epilogue is? I thought that a very romantic touch. It was in keeping with the way Ms. O’Reilly used dates throughout the book to give us a grounded sense of a timeline and how meaningful various dates can be in our lives. All-in-all, this is a very fine read.

  62. Jane
    Apr 05, 2008 @ 22:36:26

    I never did, Phyl. Tell me though. :)

  63. Phyl
    Apr 06, 2008 @ 13:22:55

    Christmas Eve.

  64. Sayuri
    Apr 09, 2008 @ 10:28:25

    Christmas Eve? Uhhh!

    Now I love Daniel even more….*sigh*

    I completely adored this book and I am looking forward to the last with Sean.

    I also read ‘Putting It To The Test’ and thought it was fab as well.

  65. Kat
    Apr 29, 2008 @ 02:28:14

    how long does it take for category books to be released down under?

    For bloody ever, apparently. We don’t seem to get all the titles published here, and sometimes they’re published years later (particular if it has a seasonal theme). For a while, too, we were getting some of your Blazes branded as Temptation, which made finding a particular book all that much harder. Anyway. Enough ranting.

  66. Jayne
    Apr 29, 2008 @ 04:08:57

    Kat that hurts. Not publishing the whole series? Publishing under a different line? Ouch, way to kill sales Harlequin. I mean, jeez…it’s already hard enough to find these books as it is.

  67. Kat
    Apr 29, 2008 @ 04:53:30

    To be fair, they publish books in a series, but I don’t think we get all the titles released by a particular line (e.g. all the Blaze titles) at the same time as you guys. Sometimes I’ve bought a Christmas novel that was published a year or two ago. Also, some of the lines are published as 2-in-1 books here, which means that the covers, etc., might be different. But I noticed that HQN has revamped their lines and covers, so some of these issues may no longer be applicable.

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