Dear R. S. Grey:
I didn’t mind some of the early problematic elements but then ending of the book cratered the entire story for me. The Design is a riff off the boss / secretary stories of old. Cammie just graduated from college and with the help of a family friend, gets a job at Grayson Cole’s architectural firm.
For years, Gray has been a good friend of Cammie’s sister but he’s treated Cammie with a lot of cold disdain. Romance readers immediately recognize this as a classic behavior of a man who is secretly in love with someone he doesn’t believe he should be in love with.
The problem is that the story doesn’t have Gray quietly seething. No. Instead, he tells Cammie from the very onset that he doesn’t get involved with employees and proceeds to parade women into his office that he uses to prove a point to Cammie.
Cammie, for her part, hasn’t learned or doesn’t know the word professionalism. Yes, she’s a hard worker but boundaries don’t exist for her. I guess the one thing I can say about Cammie in retrospect is that she is consistently drawn from the first page to the last page. She’s mouthy, has little respect for authority or professionalism, and is interested in getting her own way all of the time. I appreciate an independent woman who knows what she wants and pursues it but Cammie’s behavior came off as petulant rather than confident and immature rather than thoughtful.
But Gray doesn’t display a lot of professionalism either. In the middle of the book, he switches from “no sex with my employees” to “I can have sex with an underling in my office because I own the firm.” I guess that’s true, as owner he can do whatever he likes, but for two people who were supposedly professionals, neither of them acted like it. I get that office sex is supposed to convey that their passion is too explosive to be denied and therefore reason takes a back seat to physical lust. But I didn’t feel that sort of tension between the two.
I read one review that suggested the book was too long and I sort of agree. The conflict between the two wasn’t enough to fill an entire book and so there were things thrown in, like Cammie’s desire to go to Paris, that didn’t fit her story arc but lengthened the conflict between the two. Cammie supposedly wanted to be an architect more than anything but she also desires to save money and go live in Paris and do…I wasn’t really sure what she wanted to do in Paris but if she wanted to study architecture in Paris, lots of colleges have study abroad. Ahem. But she doesn’t study architecture in Paris…she teaches English. It was so weird.
Anyway, the “I need to go to Paris” and “I love architecture and Grayson” were too polar opposite desires but the Paris thing didn’t provide the impediment that Cammie tried to convince me it inserted into her relationship. Take a vacation! Delay work for a year and live in Paris! There were many options for Cammie but she didn’t consider one of them. (I guess she was too artistic to think rationally?)
Finally, the big dark moment between Grayson and Cammie really strained credibility and placed Cammie in a terrible light. When a character does something very selfish, knowing it would hurt the business reputation and pocketbook of someone she professes to love, then I don’t really believe in the character’s love.
Spoiler (spoiler): Show
I liked Cammie’s close relationship with her sister (she’s the subject of a previous book I’ve not read). There are funny moments. Cammie is a hard, dedicated worker most of the time. So there are things that I like including the forbidden office romance atmosphere, but the end of the story with the Paris plotline and Cammie’s actions, legitimately raised my blood pressure into the anger zone. The goodreads star rating system says a two star rating is if you didn’t like the book. A two star rating is equivalent to a D here so D it is.