woensdag 23 februari 2011

Jayne Ann Krentz – Soft Focus

A stand alone novel, published in 1999.


Executive Elizabeth Cabot knows when to cut her losses – and she runs her pesonal life the same way. So when she learns that Jack Fairfax has deceived her, she’s determined to end their romantic relationship. But breaking up their business is trickier – after all, they have a signed contract. And while she’s still trying to disentangle herself from Jack’s client company, Excalibur, hey discover a lethal act of sabotage that could put both of them out of business – for good.
If she can help Jack save Excalibur, she’ll save her own company from losing a fortune. Putting her emotions aside, she joins him in a search for the scientist who’s disappeared with a valuable new crystal that could revolutionize the high-tech industry. She’ll go in, solve the problem – and get out.
But working so closely with Jack, she’s finding it harder and harder to deny the passion she fels inside. And now, with millions of dollars at stake, Elizabeth Cabot begins to worry about an entirely different sort of risk …

Jack Fairfax is working as consultant/CEO of Excalibur, a small family business in trouble. His job is to get it back on his feet, and for that, he needs funding. The usual banks turn him down, so he seeks out the Aurora Fund, as they have invested in Excalibur before. After meeting with Elizabeth Cabot, he not only wants to money to save Excalibur and the important project called Soft Focus they are working on, he wants the woman herself too. And things seem to go smoothly for him, they sign a contract and he manages to get her in bed. Only the next morning she finds out, he was the man responsible for the extremely hostile take-over of another firm six months ago, which hurt a lot of people, including her brother-in-law, and friends of her family, and perhaps herself. So she blames him for not telling her before things got so far, and breaks off with him, very publicly.
Jack is really sorry for that, as he really wanted a long term relationship with Elizabeth, and now she won’t give him a second chance in her bed. He cannot control himself, and calls her an Ice-Pincess in bed, and half the Seatlle business people overhear them. So now he really has thrown in his own windows.
But Elizabeth is not capable of getting out of their contract, and as she has a seat on the board of Excalibur they have to keep seeing each other. To his big surprise, she keeps backing him up for the family membes who want to sell the company and take what little profit there still is. Elizabeth may not like him personally, but she does know he is a good business man.

Then disaster strikes. Soft Focus is stolen, and the lab at Excalibur is destroyed by a radical group against technology. If Jack doesn’t get Soft Focus back in time for a presentation with a potential client, Excalibur is done for. The man who stole Soft Focus is also he one who designed it, and is a rather strange man, who has a love for film noir. And as he has just produced a film himself, Jack is certain he will show up at a little film festival where it will be premiered. Elizabeth soon learns about this all, and is determined to go with Jack, to salvage her investment. They will have better chance to find Dr. Page together. Elizabeth is convinced there is a femme fatale somewhere, but Jack laughs about her idea.

Trying to find out where Dr. Page is hiding, they have to watch a lot of film noir, and talk to the people involved with “Fast Company”. The lead actress really did a good job of playing the femme fatale, and Elizabeth thinks she might be the one in real life too. Especially when Vicky tries to warn her off. Then Jack’s half-brother, who hates him, shows up in town as well. He tries to warn Elizabeth away from Jack time and again, and is determined to buy Soft Focus when it goes up in an illegal auction. He will do anything to thwart Jack.

But still, I was really surprised by the end, did not see it coming.

I was in the mood for some comfort reading, so I chose a Jayne Ann Krentz novel, hoping it would not be one of those overbearing men like the last one I tried. And I got a really good book as a surprise.
Elizabeth is really careful in her dealings with Jack, but in the past six months, she did not really forget him. She does allow him back in her bed, thinking it will be a short term affair this time, nothing more. But Jack has other ideas, he wants more. He is after marriage. He also did not forget her in the last six months, and has been celibate all that time. Vowing if he would ever get his second chance with her, he would please her in bed this time. The attraction between them has never died, and he could work from that.

Neither Elizabeth nor Jack is overbearing, they both know what they want and are great in business. But Elizabeth has been burned before, and now with Jack again, so she is just being carefull, driving Jack crazy as she won’t admit to anything, or commit to a longer relationship between them. She just want to see how it goes.
They both take risks during the investigation, not liking the other to be in danger.
There is some action in this book and a few brief lovescenes, nothing elaborate. But as usual, I love the witty bantering between them, they don’t give each other the upper hand.

So, a nice contemporary romance novel with some suspense, and a lot of film noir thrown in the mix. I could certainly recommend to you.

7,5 stars.

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