Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Mills & Boon Romance
Hero: Frazer Conway
Heroine: Emmaline Rainer
Date of Publication: 1991
Started On: September 22, 2018
Finished On: September 29, 2018
In Deal of a Lifetime, Susan Napier explores and navigates the world of a woman who wants to succeed in the business world. To not let herself get lost in what everyone else believes would bring her happiness; getting married and popping the 2.5 kids who would adore her till the end of times. Emmaline Rainer (Emma) has her work cut out for her when it comes to maneuvering the cutthroat world of ConCorp, the company she works at. Dealing with male chauvinism is something Emma has pretty much perfected, and alongside with her assistant Marc, Emma is ready to show the bosses that she is the woman for the executive position that is soon to be up for grabs.
Emma’s plan for making the perfect pitch gets derailed when a weekend away from the corporate headquarters is planned, especially one which includes an invite for the kids of contenders to join. Emma’s avoidance of kids comes from the fact that she looks like the motherly sort, which draws children to her, an image that she wants to dissuade at any cost.
It is by chance that Emma happens across Frazer Conway, the sibling who would be taking over the reins of the company soon. From the start, Emma’s senses are rubbed raw from the onslaught that Frazer delivers. He is everything she has avoided successfully thus far. But there is something about Frazer that calls out to everything that is feminine inside of her, which makes it extremely difficult to put up the front that usually works for her. Even her scathing sarcasm does not seem to work on discouraging Frazer, in fact, it seems to draw him closer to her.
Amidst a lot of back and forth between Emma and Frazer, the story continues, delivering the trademark Napier heat that she is famous for in her stories. However, Deal of a Lifetime fell short for me in many ways, mainly due to none other than Emma’s character.
Don’t get me wrong. I am all for women’s rights, which I view as equal rights as that afforded to men and the opportunity to do compete in an even field. Almost 27 years has gone by since the publication of this novel, and we are still battling with the issue of male chauvinism and at worse, harassment in various forms coupled with the lack of equal opportunities to compete against men on an even setting. Part of it is related to biology, the other part related to circumstances and societal perceptions of what women are supposed to be.
I have noticed (from having read a lot of novels by Napier), that her works tend to focus on creating strong women who defy the time periods within which the stories were written. Of course, it is owing to women like Napier writes them that we have made the minute progress we have achieved even today when it comes to equality of the sexes.
Emma is the type of character cut from the same cloth, i.e. trademark Napier heroine. She is determined to make her way in the world. None of it had been easy, given that her big family had wanted her happily settled down by the time she was of age. Emma had wanted more, and that had been the sole reason behind her seeking a university education, to become a lawyer nonetheless, and that is where she had gotten burnt enough to be twice shy when it comes to men and their pursuit of her.
However, because Frazer is made from sterner stuff, he does not give up as easily. In Frazer, Emma finds that she has met her match in stubborn. Furthermore, knowing that he is a single father, a domesticated male makes him more dangerous to her ambitions. So push she does, to keep him away from her, but alas, along the way, her emotions do get involved from which there is no hiding.
While I liked the overall premise of the story and of course Frazer, I couldn’t bring myself to like Emma all that much. There was this edge to her that I at times nearly found annoying. I am all for standing your ground and not letting a man walk all over you. At the same time, I would also appreciate that same strength to make an appearance when the woman is in the wrong, and has wronged the male. But that is often a problem in Napier’s books, as it is usually the male who has to do the chasing, the groveling, and the winning. If we are to talk about equality, the female should also do her fair share of work, especially when it comes to making up for what she puts the male through.
Frazer deserves awards for how patient she is with Emma. A widowed hero who is a single father, wanting the woman who has practiced to perfection what it means to not give into societal demands by getting married and starting a family.
While the story did have its moments when it comes to debates on patriarchal societies and societal expectations, I just didn’t feel that Emma met the hero halfway or did enough on her part to convince the readers that for her as well, the feelings were of the same intensity and ferocity.
Loved the sexual tension and the thick and heady web of desire between Emma and Frazer. The lack of an epilogue was sorely felt. After putting readers through that much of a wrangler, this book definitely needed the epilogue. But Harlequin novels rarely deliver epilogues, but this should have had one in my opinion.
Final Verdict: The battle for equal rights versus the battle for love. It does not always have to be one or the other, and Frazer is determined a male if ever there was one, to show his woman that he is in for it all.
He lifted a hand and ran a finger along the underside of her proud jaw. ‘What’s part of him is part of me. That promise makes me your friend, too, Emma. And I take the demands and responsibilities of friendship very seriously.’
The pressure of the slightly callused pad of his fingertip tilted her face up and his mouth came down, warmly covering hers.
He tasted different. No alcohol this time, diluting the flavour of him, just pure essence of male. One arm went around her, supporting her against the hard length of his body while his mouth thoroughly explored her shocked lack of resistance.
She felt his hunger in the strong fingers cupping her back, the thud of his heart vibrating against her breasts, the restless surge of his hard thigh against the constricting narrowness of the skirt that prevented him from tucking himself between her legs. He lifted his mouth and she dragged in a ragged breath, finding no will to object, and then he was kissing her again, harder, deeper, more intensely than before, taking her acquiescence for granted.
She stared fixedly at his face as his fingers curled into the soft jersey and he slowly eased the top of her dress down, pushing it into folds around her narrow waist, holding it there. She watched, fascinated, the tanned, handsome face harden, his breath hissing through his teeth as he looked at what he had uncovered. A tinge of
dark blood anointed his slanting cheekbones, his pupils expanding like black storm-clouds in the hot blue sky.
‘Is this new, too?’ he asked softly, no trace of honey in his voice now, only rough, jagged edges that snagged at her senses as he touched the lacy side of her daring bra.
‘I… yesss…’ If only he would touch her properly, instead of tormenting her with his tantalising eyes.
‘Did you wear it for me?’
Her head fell back on her shoulders, baring the truth.
He lifted his mouth and groaned at the sight of her, naked to the waist, aflame with a passion that fuelled his, her wide mouth lush and full and moist for his pleasure, an erotic dream in itself. Then he was lifting her, pushing her back on to one of the wider lower helves, moving in between her thighs, pressing hot and tight and close, whispering of forbidden delights as he urged her to feel what she did to him, no longer the slow, sensuous lover but all blind, driving masculinity taking everything he could get and wanting still more…
His mouth on her breasts was their undoing. Emma gave a small, whispery scream as he bit into the swollen ripeness to suckle with a strong, rhythmic, hungry impatience that wrenched at her womb.
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