Title: The Art of the Deal
Author: B.A. Stretke
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 63k+ words, 200 pages
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Artists, Co-Workers, Characters That Should Grovel, HEA, Job Troubles, Lawyers, Light & Sweet, Man Slut, Super Rich
Rating: Really Liked It
Reviewed by Nikyta
Sean Robbins’s life rarely goes according to plan, which leaves him suspicious and determined to make it on his own. But when he learns why he failed to win a coveted internship with Chicago’s leading lawyer, Coleman West, he soldiers on and takes a lesser position in West’s firm instead. It won’t stop him from snubbing Mr. West whenever he runs into him. Never mind that Mr. West is not only brilliant but gorgeous. Sean has his pride.
People assume Coleman West was handed everything he has on a silver platter. Not so—he fought and scraped his way to the top of Chicago’s elite. That hard work taught him to set high standards for those he chooses to work with… or date. So when he gets on an elevator and runs into the very man he dismissed as being beneath him, the instant chemistry surprises him.
Sean and Coleman could be happy together, but first they must overcome everything that stands in their way: backstabbing, jealousy, and their own pride and prejudices.
When Sean Ribbons finds out why Coleman West rejected him for the leading internship position he was promised, he’s furious and hurt but that doesn’t stop him from proving he’s fit for the job. So, he accepts a lower position instead. He does everything he can to avoid Coleman while proving he has the knowledge and professional manner to be a legal assistant. But when Coleman finally meets the man that’s been running the other way whenever they’re in the same vicinity he’s curious and shocked to find out it’s the same intern he rejected. That doesn’t stop him from trying to make amends when he realizes he cruelly judged Sean without reading all the facts first. From there starts the chase Coleman goes on to finally get Sean not to hate him. Unfortunately, Coleman has a reputation for not being in relationships and everyone keeps telling Sean he’ll be leaving sooner rather than later. Coleman, though, wants an actual relationship but Sean’s wary and distrustful around Coleman, which makes getting Sean to let down his walls almost impossible.
I really liked this book. It was fun and very easy to read. I found it amusing and entertaining how Sean rebuffs Coleman at first which causes Coleman to chase him. I really liked Sean because of that. He’s a stubborn, independent guy who doesn’t like charity and deals with what he’s given. He might be bitter about not getting a placement but he actually likes where he ends up. He’s also very naive and oblivious because he never seemed to know that Coleman was wooing him and wanted more from him than just easing his guilty conscious. However, Coleman is also naive in how to begin a relationship so I could understand why Sean was confused on Coleman’s actions but I loved Coleman in the end. I didn’t necessarily like him in the beginning but he grew on me. He’s aggressive, possessive, and extremely dominate to the point of controlling. He takes over situations and expects to be followed blindly. Although, Sean gives Coleman a run for his money a time or two when he challenges Coleman, which I think is part of the appeal of Sean.
This book started off great. I really enjoyed the fact that Sean was able to bring Coleman down a peg or two but also how Coleman seemed to change just by thinking of Sean. He goes from cold and cruel to warm and smiling. It was sweet in a way. I loved that Sean tried so hard to be distant from Coleman even though Coleman managed to make Sean melt. It was also great to see Sean keep his independence (even if he did let Coleman win more often than not). This story deals heavily around Coleman trying to build a relationship with Sean, even if Sean doesn’t exactly know it. Coleman never actually clearly states his feelings to Sean so it caused some confusion for Sean because Coleman was often hot and cold. I actually really liked that, though, because I’m sure we’ve all known someone who’s been like that so it added some realism to the story. The characters aren’t given as much depth as I would have liked but what there is of them was fun to get to know.
While I really enjoyed this story, I can’t deny that it has it’s faults. For one, there’s major head-hoping so that every paragraph has a POV shift. You’ll be reading from Sean’s POV then be reading about what Coleman thinks or what Ed, Weir, or Jason think even if they aren’t even in the same room as who originally starts the scene. It was disorienting at times because I kept mixing up who was speaking. More than that, sometimes the dialogue between Sean and Coleman was stilted and very formal. It didn’t ‘fit’ with who Sean was and that made the scenes sometimes awkward. I also couldn’t understand how Brittany, for all her trouble making, did not get in trouble for the problems she kept causing Sean. Part of the reason Coleman initially rejected Sean was because Coleman thought Sean would have made the firm look bad, yet here was this girl who was getting someone beat up just because she’s not the favorite? How does that not warrant repercussions for her actions? It boggled my mind especially when countered with how Weir used all that and more to manipulate Sean. Lastly, I felt like the ending was too rushed. There’s a lot of telling instead of showing and we read throughout the story that Coleman never did relationships and when Sean is finally gone, I was expecting some groveling, some pleading and begging to get him back, yet none of that really happens. Sean accepts Coleman after three little words are said and that’s that. No explanation on what happens next, what Sean will do with his career now, or even what will happen to Weir now (this man caused a lot of trouble, I was expecting more resolution with that).
All in all, this was a nice story. It’s sweet, sexy and fun. The premise of the story is great and led to some entertaining moments. I loved both characters even if they didn’t have much depth and I especially loved Ed Murray, Sean’s supervisor. My biggest issues were the POV shifts and the ending. I would have liked the shifts to be tighter and the ending to be longer, instead of over within a few paragraphs. Groveling would definitely have been ideal in this situation! But regardless of all of that, I really enjoyed the story to the point that I didn’t realize I was reading so fast until I had finished. That right there means the book was a good one because with the funk I’ve been in, I haven’t been able to find a book I could read in one go recently but this was one I was able to do that with.
Posted by Nikyta in 41-75k, 5 Really Like It, Authors S-U, Contemporary, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Romance, Sex Freq 2 - Few and Far Between Tags: Artists, BA Stretke, Characters That Should Grovel!, co-workers, Dreamspinner Press, HEA, Job Troubles, Lawyers, Light & Sweet, Man Slut!, Super Rich