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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Spanish Birthright by Cathy Williams

A Spanish Birthright by Cathy Williams
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (146 pgs)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 4.5 books
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

When plain-Jane Alex McGuire indulged in an innocent flirtation with a staggeringly perfect stranger, she never expected their paths to cross again.

Meek and dowdy Alex was the ideal distraction for Gabriel Cruz in his heady playboy days…. But, now that he's running the Cruz family business, frivolous distractions are a thing of the past.

So on Alex's first day of her new job she not only finds her perfect stranger is her boss…but she must tell him that their short affair left a lasting impression!

A rich man’s lie comes back to haunt him to bring both pain and an unexpected pleasure that will send him careening into personal chaos and love.

When Gabriel was a younger man he wanted to, just once, experience freedom from all his responsibilities and the expected course of his life and succeeded beyond his imagination. The pinnacle of that rebellious action was the meeting of a young woman with whom he had a passionate and wild affair unlike any he’d ever experienced. Being the man that he was, already jaded, he protected himself by using a different name and that one little act of omission lit the fuse for a ticking time bomb that exploded later in his life and starts the action off in the first chapter.

I think Gabriel, the hero, did a lot of growing in this story. He was passionate about his business to the point of obsession. When it came to his own personal life, he seemed to not care as much and used his business acumen and a misplaced sense of devotion to his own parents to make his choice. I always find it amusing that people who are smart in finance or other lofty intellectual pursuits oftentimes are so dense and goofy when it comes to people smarts and choices about their own happiness. They don’t have a clue – and if they do sometimes it comes too late. In my opinion, Gabriel is lucky to have a second chance but he certainly bumbles and stumbles a bit which I enjoyed. What is even better is when he finally wakes up to what he really wants in life and gets sensually and creatively devious to accomplish it.

Alex is the exploding bomb from his past. She’s already grown in confidence and has traveled a difficult road herself. In this story, she has to actually learn to trust, to let go and depend on someone else. She fights it, gives Gabriel a hard time, though he does deserve it a time or two, and really has to take a hard look at her own motivations and actions from time to time. She was the wronged party but what makes her character likeable was her willingness to succumb and explore the things that could be. She was scared a few times, nervous as all get out and yet she handled herself well.

Of course, this wouldn’t be a complete romance without an external conflict and that comes in the form of a spoiled ex-fiancĂ©. She does her darnedest to submarine Alex and I was very glad to see that Alex isn’t a stupid airhead. She figures a few things out which garnered more respect for her character. There was one good dig however and that sure tested both Gabriel and Alex’s feelings for the other. I liked Gabriel’s reaction.

I guess the only non-stellar part of the story was the voice. I sort of thought there was a bit too much telling between the dialogue scenes so when the characters got back to their conversations, I had to re-read where they left off to pick up the thread of it. And at the ending, I really didn’t think it appropriate for the heroine to be drinking champagne. But that’s just me.

Luke was a cutie and I liked how Ms. Williams wrote his character. The other secondary characters were window dressing for the most part. They did what they needed to in order for the hero and heroine to explore their reunion and budding romance. Gabriel and Alex were the total focus of the story. It’s definitely a character driven plot and there was a lot to work out.

A Spanish Birthright is a fun romance taking place in exotic locales and loaded with heightened emotions, volatile passions and sweet surprises. It’s an enjoyable read and certainly kept my interest. I’m glad I read it.