REVIEW: Lady’s Choice by Jayne Ann Krentz
Dear Ms. Krentz:
This book was published in 1989 but I don’t think I read it until the early 1990s. My copy was used and I recall that I had purchased it used in its original Harlequin Temptation iteration. Since that time, it has been re-released by Harlequin at least twice more. I anxiously await for it to come out in ebook format. (Hint. Hint.) The thing that I remember most about this book is that it was the first one that started out with the hero and heroine in bed together.
Juliana Grant is a tall, confident, passionate business woman. When Travis Sawyer first met her, a relationship is that last thing on his mind but she embodied everything he had ever wanted in a woman. Travis, a business consultant, had sought out Juliana because she was the only member of the Grant he had not yet met. He begins to woo her under the guise of offering his consulting services for her burgeoning coffee shop empire. Travis plans to crush the Grant family because they promised him a part of the business when he saved their bacon but reneged when his engagement to Juliana’s cousin fell through.
Juliana was unaware of the debt her family owes Travis or that Travis is still seeking his pound of flesh. The problem is that Travis is too good by half in his revenge plans. He finds himself helplessly ensnared by Juliana and when he finds that his plans for revenge imperil her business prospects, he works feverishly to prevent the impending disaster he set in motion.
This book was unconventional in many aspects, not the least of which was Juliana’s absolutely wonderful fierceness. She was a very good businesswoman even if she secretly wanted to a tea empire and not a coffee shop empire. She wasn’t shy about taking her passion, telling everyone that she loved Travis, assuming that he loved her back and proceeding to plan their life together. She was an unstoppable force. I loved that both believed that they had found the one true mate for themselves and in a genre filled with the possessive being tossed about by the heroes, it was especially piquant to have the heroine be espousing it:
Because she knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this particular man-‘this hard, lean, sexy man named Travis Sawyer-‘was the man. The right man. The one she’d been waiting for all her life.
She savored the delicious secret and held herself very still so as not to awaken the exotic creature lying next to her. She wanted a moment to luxuriate in the thrilling certainty that she had finally encountered her true mate.
He was not exactly as she had fondly imagined over the years when she had indulged in a little harmless fantasizing.
The scene goes on with Juliana comparing Travis’ appearance to that of her dream man from his height (only a bit over 6 feet) to his eyes (gray and not her preferred hazel) to his hair (severely cut black versus blond) to his lack of interest in clothes.
There were a few other minor discrepancies between the real Travis Sawyer and Juliana’s fantasy version of her true mate. If she were inclined to be picky, for example, she
could have carped about the undeniable fact that his rough, grim looks would probably forever keep him from gracing the cover of Gentlemen’s Quarterly magazine. Ah, well, it was GQ’s loss, she told herself. He looked perfect here in her bed.
Juliana’s unabashed embrace of her own sexuality, her own self worth and of Travis always makes me smile.
The revenge plot is also a bit unique because from the very first pages Travis already has regrets over his plans now that he has met Juliana, someone he never thought he would find in all of his life. He wants to capture her passion and loyalty and hold it fast to him. He’s never had someone like Juliana fight for him, over him or even with him and he wants it even more than he thought he wanted revenge. The true irony is that his plans for destroying the Grants might spell his own demise.
There is a great scene in which Travis thinks he has lost Juliana and he prepares to leave in his very staid automobile when Juliana comes storming out of the country club after him like a Valkryie. She throws herself on the hood of the auto:
“You’re engaged to me, you bastard,” she yelled back through the windshield. “You can’t walk out on me like this. I deserve an explanation and I’m warning you right now, whatever that explanation is, it won’t be good enough. Because we aren’t just engaged, we’re partners, remember? You might be able to end an engagement like this, but you can’t end a business relationship so easily.”
Travis response is the only he can give:
The only thing that made it possible for Travis to hang on to his self-control was the sure and certain knowledge that if he lost it now, he would never be able to regain it. He looked up at the magnificent creature standing on the hood of his car and felt the blood pounding through his veins. Her hair was a wild, crazy shade of orange in the glare of the parking lot lights. Her shoes sparkled garishly as if they’d been coated with some sort of cheap glitter dust, and the huge satin bow at the back of her green dress had come undone.
Travis knew he had never in his life wanted a woman as badly as he wanted this one.
The one draw back to this story is that Juliana’s cousin and her family are really bastards and they never really get the comeuppance they deserve.
I see so few truly assertive heroines in romance that Lady’s Choice is one I’ve savored since the first that I read it so many years ago. Travis was a great match for her and in the end, no reader ever doubted the depth of their love for each other or the likelihood of that ever after happiness.
This book can be purchased at Amazon. No ebook format.
Lady’s choice is also one of my favorite book. I do not usually like Ms. Krentz’s category but this one stand out (another that I really love is The Family Way). Reading you review make me want to reread this book again.
I used to love Jayne Ann Krentz books–totally glommed them when I was in college in the late 90s. Since then, the plots have all sort of melded together in my head and recently I have been trying to recall what I liked so much about them. Thanks for reminding me!
I agree with you completely! I have this book in my Castle/Krentz/Quick keepers.
I think what I really love about Jayne Ann’s writing is the way she is able to inject vunerability into very masculine men. Even in the 80’s-90’s she had strong women vs very alpha men with a vunerability that gave the women equal footing.
Your review made me smile Thanks.
Thanks, Jane. I had forgotten how much I loved this book. Also, your review made me think of another JAK whose title I can never recall. It was a Desire. Under her Desire psuedonym, Stephanie James. The hero ran a casino and he never came out in the daytime. It was like, “Is he, possibly, a vampire or something?” It was so smart and funny and sexy and well done. Just wish I could remember the title…
Also, back in the late ’80s when I first started writing and submitting romance, I sent my first baby to Desire where Isabel Swift was the Sr. Ed. I waited like three weeks and called her, wanting to know what was up with my wonderful book! She was so kind and patient as she explained to me why it was not for them (Now, looking back, I can’t believe she got to it so quickly–and even was able somehow to look it up right there on the spot; this was pre-computer at most houses, including Silhouette) Once I realized she wouldn’t buy my baby, I started talking about JAK’s Desires. I was just all over the poor woman, drooling in admiration for Krentz–well, for “Stephanie James,” I mean. Isabel let me babble on for a while. When I finally paused for a breath, she said something about how I should just be myself. She was lovely about the whole thing, and I after I hung up I felt a little foolish. But not that foolish. After all, she did agree with me. We both loved the books of “Stephanie James.”
I miss Temptation. Blaze didn’t fully fill Temptation’s shoes (and I’ve stopped reading them in the last year because the plots are suffering). I still have a few Temptations on the keeper shelf.
This is also one of my favorite JAK Harlequin Temptations. Others that have this theme are A Woman’s Touch and Dreams 1 & 2. In Full Bloom, the heroine triumphs over her over-bearing relatives. She took an assertiveness training class, and studied martial arts. One of the great scenes from the book is when she sends the hero flowers to apologize; his reaction is priceless.
I started working for Harlequin editing Temptation novels in August 1989 (yup, I’m about to hit my 20 year anniversary) and while I was thrilled to be an editor at Harlequin, I was a little puzzled by Temptation. At that time there were a lot of beta heroes and plots taken from women’s magazines — I didn’t really get the stories. I didn’t think they were strong romances with strong conflict and strong characters. At the end of the first week I picked up LADY’S CHOICE by Jayne and loved, loved, loved it. I especially loved what you highlighted: the heroine’s strength. Hundreds of novels later I can still recall that scene with her on the hood of the car.
Having read the book over a weekend, I was thrilled to get to work on Monday and be able to tell my boss that I had read the JAK and thought it was brilliant. She replied that she thought it was a bit much (hence the beta heroes). Luckily, this was her last week and Birgit Davis-Todd took over as senior editor and turned Temptation into a success — fast-paced, sexy, sometimes sassy romances with alpha heroes and heroines! In fact, Birgit even brought Jayne to the Toronto offices to help us reinvent Temptation.
We’ll look into the eBooks thing — obviously a rights question — because now I want to read it again. JAK rules!
Oh man, that was one of my all time favorite Jayne Ann Krentz books! I found it in a used bookstore and kept it till it fell apart. I LOVED that scene where she stands on the car and yells at Travis! The really funny part is that I was trying to remember the title just last week thinking I would try and hunt a copy down. I’m not fond of her current stuff, but I still own many of her Amanda Quick and Jayne Ann Krentz books in hardcover. I sort of stopped buying her when she went paranormal and I didn’t like the way she did it one bit.
This book sounds like something I’d really enjoy. I have never read JAK’s Harlequin novels. I started reading her early Amanda Quick books and later Jayne Ann Krentz singles, but I stopped awhile back when the heroines seemed to all blend in with each other with the similar quirky traits. Now I’m going to see if I could find a used copy of this. Thanks for the review.
@Kay Webb HarrisonOh I also loved A Woman’s Touch. I can’t remember Full Bloom. I bet I have it though.
@Malle Your historical perspective is so interesting. I loved the Temptation line. I was so sad to see it retired.
@Christine Rimmer: Could the book you remember be “Gambler’s Woman”? I have the audiobook of JAK’s version (haven’t ‘read’ it yet) but the title kind of matched and “Stephanie James” also had a book with the same title…
“To win big, she’d have to risk it all . . .
Dark, dangerous Jordan Kyle lived life on his own terms, setting his own rules and playing for high stakes. He’d moved through this world alone, and was satisfied to have it that way — until he encountered Alyssa Chandler.
By day Alyssa was a cool, controlled mathematical whiz, sorting through facts and figures. By night it was a different story. At night she became a creature of beauty and passion who was more than a match for Jordan. But were Jordan’s seductive caresses enough for Alyssa to take a chance on a future together?
Only time would tell . . . “
Jane, that scene on the car is making me want to hunt down a copy of the book now. Thanks!
@Christine Rimmer: Nightwalker— former casino owner. I remember it was hard to find when I was helping friend glom original editions a few years ago. Probably reprinted, most of the Stephanie James have been. Always wondered why the Dell categories or the MacFadden books were never reprinted. The MacFadden ones were really hard to find– Jayne Bentley.
I may have just had a post eaten by the spam filter. Anyway, Christine Rimmer is probably looking for Nightwalker by Stephanie James.
I’m reading some of the one and two star reviews on Amazon for Lady’s Choice and I started laughing at the differences between Jane’s “confident, passionate,” and “assertive” woman and others’ comments about a “psychopathic heroine” (7/30/00) and a women who is “just downright unlikeable” (3/27/08).
Thanks for this! I loved, loved, LOVED JAK’s temptations when I was in high school and haunted a local UBS. I remember really enjoying this one. Another particular favorite featured a professor.