Harlequin Presents, how I love thee. Featuring overbearing alpha heroes, and demure, virginal heroines, where “Seduction and Passion are guaranteed” or so says the byline, they are magical, fun, passion filled books. The HP line is one where I know I’m guaranteed to find a domineering hero who I’d want to bash in the head in real life and a heroine who is far too meek for my tastes. And yet, I have an undeniable sense of nostalgia and affection for them. So when Marisa sent out a note that Hired: The Sheikh’s Secretary Mistress by Lucy Monroe was available for review, I jumped.
Sheikh Amir bin Faruq al Zorha must marry. A member of Zorha’s Royal Family, he lives in New York, where he runs his family’s international business interests. He is not next in line to inherit the throne, but nevertheless must marry to continue the family dynasty. He’d had an arranged marriage, and was completely at peace about the woman he was to marry, and yet, when she eloped with another man, Amir feels nothing but relief. But knowing his overbearing father, the king, he knows that if he doesn’t act quickly to marry, his father will arrange something for him. He decides that he will ask his personal assistant, Grace Brown, to make his marriage her next project. She’s to research and find suitable choices to be his bride. She will investigate them, and knowing his tastes better than anyone else, she’ll make an informed recommendation about who he should marry. Grace, to no HP veteran reader’s surprise, is outraged. Mostly because she is in love with Amir, and it crushes her to think of him marrying anyone but her, even though she knows she’s not a suitable match. She refuses.
Amir is outraged. How dare Grace refuse him? She’s done everything he’s ever asked her to without complaint. She attends his every need, anticipating most of his wishes before he even asks them. And she has the temerity to say no? Outrageous! Amir is flabbergasted to find that the slow burning attraction he’s had for Grace for years is aroused by her refusal. Grace is strictly off limits to him. He knows she’s innocent and on top of that, he counts on her more than anyone else in the world. So he does what any self respecting sheikh would do when confronted with reluctance – he bribes her. He takes her to see her beloved Red Sox play and buys her a jersey, and shows her a wonderful time. She knows full well what he is doing, and is determined to say no, but finally capitulates and agrees to begin the search. Soon Amir’s business calls him home. As his assistant, Grace travels to Zorha with him and continues to work closely by his side. The more closely they work together, the more Amir’s attraction grows. And the more convinced he becomes that Grace is the woman who should be his wife. But Grace has other ideas and continues to work on the her “project.” Will Amir be able to convince Grace that she is the one for him? Will he have to use underhanded methods to land this intriguing woman who has become everything to him?
What I love about this book is that Monroe “gets it.” She understands the construct of the Harlequin Presents series and adheres to it strictly while infusing a sense of fun and sexiness to the story. Grace is a likeable heroine and Amir, while overbearing in that classic alpha way, comes across as an evolved hero. Even though we know what to expect, Monroe’s writing style is such fun that the book is a delight to read. This was the first Harlequin Presents I’d read in a while, but I can guarantee you, it won’t be the last.