REVIEW: In Bed with the Boss by Susan Napier
Update: I am reposting this review given the book I read a week ago. I wanted to highlight the story and why I enjoyed it tremendously.
Dear Ms. Napier:
I was delighted to see that Harlequin was digitizing your backlist titles. It’s something I’ve longed for since their digitizing efforts began a year or so ago. I have In Bed with the Boss in its paper form, bought used from an online store. I happily replaced the print with the digital version.
The book was originally published in 1999 and in the descriptions of the clothing and the era, it is dated. However, I found the flamboyance of the hero’s dress, in particular, to be so fun to read about that the dated aspect only added charm to the story.
Part of the fun with In Bed with the Boss is that the reader is in on a secret. That is, we know that Duncan (the boss) is in love with Kalera (the secretary), but she is willfully or unconsciously blind. Seeing her awaken to this is part of the pleasure.
Kalera Martin has been secretary to Duncan Royal, the owner of a multi-million dollar tech firm, for three years. She tenders her resignation because she is about to marry one of Duncan’s fiercest rivals, Stephen Prior. Duncan is enraged because he has been waiting until Kalera had recovered from the death of her husband before he made his move on her. The idea that he missed the window and that she is marrying a hated rival motivates him to ruthlessly pursue Kalera. Kalera has no idea that Duncan has these feelings although she did share one lonely night with him long ago that she has tried to repress and forget.
Duncan is described in such a way as to plant him firmly in the metrosexual category. He has “lean, manicured hands”. At one point he is described as wearing a “velvet jacket cropped like a matador’s, the wide lapels and cuffs stiff with flamboyant gold embroidery.” He wears an earring, one with an “elongated jet and chased gold teardrop.” Duncan, in some ways, seems like the dandies of the late 18th Century–all fabulous dress and ferocious masculinity. You even acknowledge this:
A stud or ring was a fairly ommonplace declaration of modern macho cool, but the wickedly frivolous elegance of that dangling earring made an entirely different statement. It was the sort of exquisite piece of jewellery that a languid Elizabethan fop might have worn-or a modern rock-and-shock star!
The earring scene is brilliant. It shows Duncan’s anti establishment side, Kalera’s helpless attraction to it, her instinctive resistance, and, of course, the boring staidness of Kalera’s fiance.
Duncan’s force of personality is testosterone laden in spite of his velvet covered body. Kalera describes him as having a near psychic force of personality. When Kalera notes that she didn’t know he had his ear pierced, Duncan admits it was recently done:
“For some reason I had this sudden, compelling urge to go out and do something just for the sheer hell of it, something satisfyingly primitive, and preferably masochistic-What prompted urge to go out and do something just for the sheer hell of it, something satisfyingly primitive, and preferably masochistic-What prompted me to feel like that, do think, Kalera?’
Kalera notes that the earring suits him:
The feminine delicacy of the piece presented an exotic contrast to the hard planes of his face and the square jaw shadowed by masculine stubble. But Kalera would die before she admitted it.
Conveniently, the reader then gets Stephen’s opinion and given that Stephen is boring and wrong for Kalera, you instinctively build on the idea that Duncan’s flamboyance is all the more attractive because who the hell wants to agree with Stephen?
“I think it looks freakish,’ said Stephen tightly, the words spilling out from behind his rigid control. “But then it’s typical of you, isn’t it, Duncan? Always some outlandish stunt to draw attention to yourself. You’d better be careful: one day people are going to figure out that you’re more show than substance.’
Duncan pursues Kalera all out, using every weapon at his disposal. It is all fair to Duncan. He works Kalera through lunch and late into the night so she cannot see Stephen. He figures out where Kalera and Stephen might be dining and invites himself to dinner. At one point, he hijacks Kalera and a part of his staff and takes them to a remote estate with the excuse that his top secret project will be better protected if they work in isolation.
Kalera is no mild mannered miss either. She pretends to be impervious to his rages, which just feeds Duncan’s temper. The reader knows that Kalera could wind Duncan around her finger if she wished. There’s signalling from the opening pages of the power that only Kalera has over Duncan (only she isn’t aware of it until later).
What I particularly appreciated was that there is no actual villian in this story. While Stephen might have been boring for Kalera, he was the right man for someone else. Kalera was a widow and her now deceased husband was honored in every mention, particularly by Duncan. The reveal at the end regarding Duncan and Henry, the former husband, and their relationship was novel and touching. I can’t remember another like it.
This book is such fun to read and I loved the ending. I am so glad that it is out in eform so everyone can enjoy it. B+
Book Link | Kindle | Amazon | nook | BN | Borders
| Sony | Kobo | Books on Board | eharlequin.com in digital
Thanks for this review. I’ll be looking for it.
I own this in print too but I’m really glad it’s now out in e-form! Definitely adding it to my collection. This is probably one of the stories that got me hooked on the boss/employee relationship storyline.
I absolutely loved this book, too.
Good review and only $2.25 on Kindle? Sold!
This one *was* lovely. Susan Napier has a gift.
This is going on my TBR list right now! You had me at the velvet matador jacket. Awesome.
I love this book! The characters are really well drawn and likeable. Duncan isn’t the “usual” HP hero, IMO. He’s not a jerk, and he takes the time to understand her.
I really enjoyed this aspect of the book. I think there’s a literary term for it (omniscient reader or something) that I can’t think of. Whatever it is, I’m a sucker for books where the reader knows before the heroine does.
I wonder if Napier’s still writing.
@MaryK: Susan is most definitely still writing. :)
@Tamar: I don’t, but I think the velvet matador jacket is dated but I loved it.
@Annmarie: Is your Visa allowed at Amazon anymore?
@Linda Winfree: ohh, yes, dramatic irony. That is exactly what it is. The double meaning is the fun of the story because we, the reader, know what the hero is intimating. I.e., when they are cooking and he is chopping onions:
I loved this book when I read it in print and I’m so glad it’s being re-released as an e-book. Susan Napier is one of my favorite authers and I look forward to populating my e-reader with her backlist to enjoy for many more years!
MaryK, pretty sure it’s dramatic irony (although, technically, should be a play to be dramatic?). Dramatic irony occurs when the audience/reader knows something the characters on stage or in point of view do not, lending a double meaning to the dialogue.
I’m a sucker for it, too.
And I really think I need this book for my trip to Atlanta!
I loved this book when I first read it. Gonna need to add it to my e-shelf. Thanks for the heads up!
I’ll definitely get it, sounds like fun! One question: do you think the whole concept of metrosexual is dated? I was thinking of incorporating it into a book of my own. (Though perhaps without the velvet. *g*)
@Kwana: too bad it can’t be ordered in print again, but e is good too.
@Sarah: It is definitely one of the better boss/secretary tales.
@Nalini Singh: You have to ask Napier at your next RWA conference if she wrote that Manga guide.
@Melissa: I know! It’s the most entertainment you can get for $2.00
@Ridley: She is a marvel at the category format. I was thinking of my favorites: Fortune’s Mistress, Mistress of the Groom, oohhh, Another Time!
@Ros: There was another book in which she describes the hero as wearing shorts and a windbreaker, unzipped part way and the sleeves pushed up. The heroine is, of course, breathless at the potent masculinity. Loved it.
Ha! So far. But, I’ve only bought 8 books today.
You would think Amazon Visa would not shut you down w/suspected fraud for excessive use at Amazon.
@Nalini Singh: I keep thinking I need to write her a fan letter, but I’ve never done it.
@Jane: The Manga guide! I’ve been tempted to buy it even though I know nothing about Manga. You know how people say “I’d read her shopping list.” Well, I’d read her Manga guide. :lol:
@Jane, @Nalini Singh, @MaryK: This is one of those inside jokes, right? In case it isn’t, anime author Dr. Susan Napier is not romance author Susan Napier.
Unless we’re talking about two manga adaptations of rom author Susan Napier’s HP roms? I think only one of those was translated back to English under HQN’s English-language manga line.
Ugh. I think I’ve just confused myself.
Edited: I think this calls for a full list of HQN English-language manga books. Does anyone know where I can find this list?
Edited #2 (sorry): I found only one manga adaptation of Napier’s romance: A Passionate Proposition (The Cruellest Lie?) and a full list of her JPN-translated novels (amazon.co.jp). For what it’s worth. :D
@Jane: Oooh, I love the sound of that. It’s reminding me of George Michael when he was still in Wham! Happy days.
Looking forward to the e version. I have fond memories of reading the paperback years ago… she’s the reason why I got hooked to romances.
Oh I adore Susan Napier and this sounds almost campy in its delightfulness (a word or not??). I can wait to pick it up–another tick for e reading… backlists!
Ah, I do so like Susan Napier. One of my very, very few Harlequin auto buys. I love that she can write charismatic characters, not just characters that are supposed to be charismatic.
This one deservedly has a place in my top 10 work based romances.
@Maili Not an inside joke at all. The two have the same exact name (at least it shows up in the search engines that way) so I wasn’t sure whether it was the same person.
I was *so* tickled to see this review. I love Susan Napier and have most, if not all, of her HP backlist. I went and dug this one out to re-read.
Mistress of the Groom, Cruellest Lie & Honeymoon Baby are all on my keeper shelf.
How fun! I remember this book. I haven’t read any HP in a while, just been into other things, but Susan Napier was always my top favorite in that line. I’m starting to see the benefits Jayne keeps telling me about with her Sony Reader. :) I’m imagining having all her backlist in one place for the next flight!
Perhaps I am missing something, but is there a place on the harelquin website where they tell you the “new” digitized backlists? I would like to browse them, but they seem to be mixed all in with everything else. There’s a “backlist bookshelf” but it doesn’t have everything in it.
I think the Harlequin site is not the greatest. It is hard to navigate. I always end up buying at Amazon because it’s so much easier to use.
I wish Harlequin would invest in a better site.
@valor: You aren’t missing anything but I did ask for a list of all the backlist titles in April and it was posted here. I also have the backlist titles for May but am waiting until they go on sale to post the list (in a couple of weeks). I’ll keep posting them as long as Harlequin provides the list to me!
I just bought it after reading the review. I have never heard of this author. Can anyone recommend other books by her?
@Vi I generally like all of Napiers books. Price of Passion, The Mistress Deception, Public Scandal/Private Mistress (the latter two stories feature tall women. The one in PS/PM is a 6 foot redhead).
I remember reading this ages ago, but in Spanish translation, and it felt it needed some development. But then again, it was a lot shorter than the English version is, so I suspect some inept editing must have taken place. I think I need to read the original version and see :-)
i would have to say that george michael is a good singer despite the scandals ::
Sold, sold, sold. I’m a total sucker for heroes who have loved heroine for a looong time. Sigh.
I bought this when it was recommended on DA sometime ago, and remains one of my favorite HPs. One of my favorite aspects, as Jane pointed out, is that the author did not feel compelled to demonize or somehow lessen the image of the dead spouse in order to make the romance work. You believe that Kalera loved and respected (and apparently had a great intimate life with) her first husband and that does not in any way make it difficult for us to believe she will have a marriage that’s just as happy, though maybe very different, with Duncan.
I’m reading the copy you sent to me (Thank you again!) and enjoying it tremendously. I haven’t gotten to this part yet:
“velvet jacket cropped like a matador’s, the wide lapels and cuffs stiff with flamboyant gold embroidery.” He wears an earring, one with an “elongated jet and chased gold teardrop.”
Ohmigod. Hilarious, but still … oddly charming.
I may just have to buy this. Right Now
I borrowed this book using my shiny new kindle library privileges (which I LOVE) and although I have not read a category for years had so much fun with this one that I promptly went on a spree. So thanks to my library I have spent the past couple of days with ruthless billionares and their virgin/almost virgin secretaries/waitress. They are little like crack terrible but I can’t seem to stop. Unfortunately the library doens’t currently have any other Napier books availble but I do have some on hold.
@Annmarie: You think you’re joking about fraud and Amazon? Au contraire! Discover shut me down at the 8th book (what is it about that number?). The one-click Kindle dance is too fast for credit card companies.
@Janet W: I had the same thing happen with my credit card. Ironically, it turned out to be a good thing, because there WAS someone testing out fraudulent charges on my account, during the same week, which I discovered while confirming that all the charges from the One-Click Kindle Dance (hee!) were valid, But the bank hadn’t flagged the actual bogus charges at all.
I’m a little concerned, though, that I started getting fraudulent charges right after I started buying ebooks from various places….
Susan Napier hasn’t had anything published for several years now, I’m not so sure she’s still writing. I emailed harlequin/mills & boon last year and they said theere was nothing in the pipeline but couldn’t comment further. Best author for this category … all her characters are different and well thought out, writes with humour, and passion. Not the usual same old, same old, stuff you usually get. She has yet to conclude her series on the Marlowe family by getting the ‘aged rocker’ married off.