TERMS OF ENGAGEMENT - Ann Major
Harlequin Desire #2131
Texas - The Present
Billionaire workaholic Quinn Sullivan makes a deal with his father's previous partner, Earl Murray, to take over Murray Oil. Earl bought out his father. A situation which Quinn believes led to his mother's desertion and his father's suicide. Quinn has worked for revenge. Marrying the daughter of his father's former friend is just the ticket, although the marriage isn't so much about revenge as gaining the loyalty of the company's employees—after all, business comes first. The engagement is made but unannounced. Weeks before the wedding, the older sister charges into Quinn's office to save her younger sister. She begs Quinn not to ruin biddable Jaycee's life by locking her into a loveless marriage.
Kira Murray has always felt like she didn't quite belong, even in her own family. She is dark and willowy, and unruly. Her mother and sister are blonde, curvy, petite and submissive. Still, she won't let Quinn ruin her sister's life. Handsome, rich, and commanding, Quinn makes Kira feel things she hasn't with any other man. After a night of passion, Quinn changes the deal. He'll marry Kira instead, but she believes and insists it is only another business merger…a marriage of convenience.
Both characters are hard-working, family-oriented people bent on misunderstanding each other. Quinn refuses to believe he is capable of loving anyone again. Kira refuses to believe in her self-worth, even though she thinks of herself as an independent woman who wants her own career. The motives of this hero and heroine are never quite clear to themselves, but apparent to everyone around them, including the reader, because their inner dialogue and actions reveal it. This situation might leave readers wanting to deliver a swift kick to each, but perhaps more to Kira. An explanation gradually builds for Kira's insecurity, and when she learns the truth, it does change the tenor of the story from frustrating to sympathetic. Readers will root for this couple to come to an understanding, but it will take a life-threatening situation to accomplish it.