Brace yourselves. I’m actually reading the categories I bought several years ago. This is not a reread. If you have read this book and have fond memories of it, then hit the back button because you’ve been warned.
I’ve only read _one_ other Diana Palmer and it was Coltrain’s Proposal. It was such a good read that I went out and did a glom of sorts. “His Girl Friday” was the result of said glom. How did I like it? Read on.
Well, to prepare myself, I realize that Palmer has a style. Her heroes tend to be “alpha” and her heroines tend to be young innocent virgins. Also, “His Girl Friday” was written in 1989 and it’s an “office romance.” Not a favorite. Lastly, I was curious to know if the themes of the late 1980’s were still resonant today.
Cabe Ritter comes from a family of oil men. He runs his own business that sells parts to oil rigs. Danetta Marist, his secretary of two years, is someone he never glanced at twice. Cabe uses the masculine form of her name, “Dan” to keep his distance and often treats her like a kid brother.
Due to some family drama, Cabe and his father, Eugene, don’t get along well. Eugene insults the women Cabe dates because he finds none of them suitable. He throws Danetta’s name into the hat of possible suitors for his son and even tells Cabe that she might have a crush on him.
Cabe confronts Danetta, in a round about way, hedging and then asking her if she’s interested and she gives him an answer that he doesn’t neccessarily like. Anyway, he starts taking personal notice of her attire and personal appearance. He even asks her to dress a bit more sexy.
Danetta is not a “liberated woman.” She shares an apartment with her beautiful cousin Jenny, who is hardly ever there and has a iguana as a pet for company. And she’s in love with her boss who chain smokes and is a womanizer. The two have a lot of heated exchanges & close encounters. Mainly Cabe’s yelling at Danetta for making moon eyes at him and she’s easily crushed whenever he throws other women in her face.
Then the story goes on, into the familiar path of the mating dance. The conflict is a classic one: no sex before marriage. Danetta wants a ring on her finger first, baby. But does she wait for it or not? Of course, as men are wont to do, Cabe tries to wear down her defenses with his hard kisses and sharing with her his uncontrollable lust-filled thoughts.
There’s two side-plots where one involves cousin Jenny. Seems like her job, working for Cabe’s father makes her out to be a target of some secret agents. Jenny does some kind of secret work with geologists who search for strategic metals. Jenny of course shares some info with Danetta who in turn tells a third party who then burglars her home. This prompts Cabe and Danetta to spend even more time together.
Then the other sideplot shows how Danetta helps Cabe resolve his family issues. Cabe resents his father for remarrying so quickly after his mother’s death. He even resents his half-brother, Nicky, who adores him. Then the story ends with a quick, behind the scenes sting operation and then, mercifully, it’s over.
How did I like this story? Well, I didn’t. Sorry kids but this one doesn’t hold up well. Unless you don’t mind mousy virgins who are stubborn, unbelievably naive and who get drunk after one glass of white wine, hey, go for it. Some of the dialogue is laughable, no, really, as evidenced,
“I didn’t know how beautiful a woman could be until now,” he whispered softly. “I’ve never had a virgin, Danetta,” he breathed as his mouth smoothed with exquisite tenderness over her high breasts. “I don’t know if I can live through the pleasure of having you…”
or this one,
[snip]”I don’t know a lot about virgins and I’ve never had to hold anything back.” His eyes held hers. “Restraint is difficult for a man after a long dry spell, you see.” His hands contracted. “That’s what it’s going to mean if we have each other,” he said curtly. “I’ll have to hurt you. Deliberately. You understand?” He sighed roughly. “I don’t know if I can.”
There’s more and it’s painful to read. Cabe is supposed to be a playboy but we later learn that he’s actually not. It’s all a facade. He just doesn’t want to be in a committed relationship and finds that it’s easier just to date someone who doesn’t want a relationship either. Until he meets Dani.
What’s sad is that the story started off promising with the light humor and the oil rigging business set as the back-drop. But once Cabe decided to pursue then avoid then pursue Danetta, the romance ran off the track, crashed and burned. So, no, this one I won’t be keeping. If they ever repackage this one, avoid. F.
Currently reading Jennifer Crusie’s Trust Me On This from Loveswept #843, dated 1997. Can’t wait to see how well this one holds up considering that the publisher is repackaging this one in 2010. Meanwhile, for readers who are interested in His Girl Friday, it is SD#528 and it’s OOP.