by Leslie Kelly, contemporary (2008)
Harlequin Blaze, $4.99, ISBN 978-0-373-79406-5
The mix-up happened when the two harassed graphic designers working on the programs for the bachelor auction realized that they had an accident of sorts where they now had to match the photos of the guys with their biography... and they had no idea who is who. Going by instincts, the two women decided that "Sean" must be the paramedic because he was wearing this friendly smile in his photo while "Jake" must be the "international businessman" due to the lack of smile and the shorter hair in the man's photo. Oops.
In Slow Hands, Madeline Turner learns from her sister Tabitha that their stepmother intends to purchase a gigolo from the Give A Kid A Christmas charity auction and have a happier Christmas party than their father. Rationalizing that they both do not want their father to get hurt (the man loves the new wife, for some reason), the two sisters decide that Maddy would win the auction and steal the gigolo away from their stepmother. It's that simple, right?
Except in this case, the mix-up I've described earlier causes Jake Wallace, an EMT, to be mistaken as the gigolo in question. He doesn't really want to take part in the auction, but he knows someone who knows someone who is invested in this charity, et cetera, so here he is. Still, things can't be so bad when he realizes that he is worth $25,000 to this gorgeous woman who has won him in the auction. They are both attracted to each other, but poor Jake has no idea that Maddy is not keen on exploring the attraction between them because she believes that he sells his body for a living. Still, he's keen on seeing where they will go from there and therefore he's going to make sure she doesn't succeed in getting away from him.
This book may be called Slow Hands but there is nothing slow about the rate Jake falls for Maddy. Which is a puzzle to me because initially Maddy isn't exactly the nicest person when it comes to dealing with him. I suppose this is a wish-fulfillment type of story where the focus is on a hot, caring, and maybe just a little stalker-like fellow helping the heroine relax, take things easy, have fun, and fall in love at the end of the day.
The best thing I can say about Slow Hands is that it is a pleasant read. There aren't many surprises here, just a pretty familiar story of a heroine getting a hot guy who helps her let her hair down. Maddy's silly insistence on keeping things "business-like" can get a little tedious, especially when it is clear that she's becoming more and more of an emotional mess the more she keeps up her silly stunt, but this length of the story is such that the heroine's behavior is never prolonged to a painful extent. As for Jake, he's such a fantasy dream guy, but I suppose that is what a man has to be in order to find Maddie's initial impersonation of a prickly hedgehog attractive enough to track her down.
If you ask me whether the romance feels real or whether it will last, I can only say that I have my doubts. Still, it makes for a pleasant hour or two of reading, so Slow Hands serves its purpose adequately in that respect.
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