REVIEW: Beyond Breathless by Kathleen O’Reilly

Dear Ms. O’Reilly,

Beyond Breathless (Harlequin Blaze)When Jane sent me this arc I have to admit that I wasn’t that thrilled. Oh look, another series about three siblings. And my, it’s set in New York City so it’ll read like a “Sex in the City” clone book. It’s a Harlequin Blaze, we’ll get tons of inappropriately timed lust/sex scenes. Whoopee. Not. And even through the beginning of the first chapter, I was thinking, ” ‘eh” but then, when these two started seducing each other with sexy finance talk, I perked up. I started reading closely. I began laughing my ass off. I loved it.

Jamie McNamara knows that being a woman in the financial industry isn’t easy. She’s got to work twice as hard and still has to deal with the good old boy network. So she’s not about to miss her hard won chance to make her most ambitious deal for her company. And if she has to share a ride with an unknown businessman after a power outage shuts down the trains from NYC to Connecticut to make the meeting, then so be it. Even if the vehicle they have to share is a stretch Hummer that looks like it’s straight out of a porn shoot.

Andrew Brooks just thinks he’s being nice to offer a ride to this woman who obviously wants to get to some kind of meeting. But then her cool business manner, tailored suit, long legs and high heel shoes start to get to him. They’re going to be in this Hummer together for a while and he’s got to distract himself so he starts spouting price per earnings and gross receipts for companies he trades in. He figures he’s safe, this will bore her. But it doesn’t. She challenges him for a prediction about next year’s market outlook then argues his analysis. And Andrew realizes that, “Holy Alan Greenspan,” she’s seducing him. With financial talk. And pretty soon they’re riding each other as they ride to CT.

But just as soon, it’s over and, appalled, they go their separate ways. That is until Andrew confides the gist of the event to his brother at a drunken bachelor party, and Jeff tells their sister who, thinking Jeff just made it up, decides to turn the event into a story on her writer’s blog which catches the attention of all of Wall Street. Now how is Andrew, who can’t get Jamie out of his mind and his mind back on business, going to make this up to her? And will competitive Jamie be able to commit to a relationship with a man who above her on the hierarchy of Wall Street? And will their hot nights in bed keep them from keeping up with the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Forbes and Lou Dobbs?

I loved most of the characters of this book. It’s short so you had to distill them very quickly yet each was distinct and memorable. And you have real guy talk. Brothers who call each other ass and putz, and who do the testosterone competition thing.

I loved the sexy finance talk, the way Andrew seduces Jamie by analyzing pork belly futures, discussing zero coupon bonds and rates of return. This is sex talk for these two. They get hot and wet talking about this stuff. I like how driven they are in their jobs and that they don’t compromise this throughout the entire book.

I was worried for a minute about what you were doing to Jamie near the end of the story. “You can’t do this to her!” I wailed. “You know she needs to succeed on her own. She’ll never be happy if she thinks Andrew has pulled strings for her.” But then I realized that this is a real misunderstanding between them and not a “Romance misunderstanding.” It’s something you’ve set up throughout the whole book and it makes sense that this could happen to, and be a problem for, these two. Yeah! And then you worked them out of it in a believable way. Double yeah!! And better still, the sex is hot yet romantic without being purple or stupid. That men’s room scene is straight out of a guy’s wet dreams.

So now you probably want to know why I didn’t grade this an A+. Well, I’m not too sure what to think about Andrew’s mother or sister. Neither of them worked as well for me as the other characters who all seemed so real. But I love Jeff and am looking forward to his book. See, you’ve got me ready to buy into a series, which is something I’m getting really sick of. Right now I’m giving this a conservative B+ but that might go up on further reflection and rereading.