A Ruthless Proposition
by Natasha Anders
The book begins with our main characters, Dante Damaso and Cleopatra (Cleo) Pandora Knight on a business trip in Japan. Cleo is there as a replacement for Dante’s trusted secretary who is out on maternity leave. Cleo is excited about the opportunity but is not thrilled about being stuck in a hotel room with her obnoxious boss no matter how handsome he is. Dante is simply there to get his hotel business venture squared away. Nothing more. Most of the arrangements are done, and it doesn't seem apparent why he needed Cleo there, though he seems to enjoy reminding her how inept she is.
When I began the book and saw the female main characters name I balked a bit. Hoever, this is something that the author actually pokes fun of in the early chapters of the book so my initial unease was set to rest. I was also slightly leery when the man characters fell into bed together for “mind blowing sex” in the beginning of Chapter One. It felt out of sync for me that these two individuals, even in a stressful situation, found themselves there without any help of alcohol. They actually really disliked each other. It was a bit tough to buy in to that happening. After Japan things seem to go back to “normal” and we start to see that there are inklings of what is come for our main characters. It becomes less about sex, and more about two people who continue to butt heads, although the author makes sure that the sexual tension between them remained.
There was something about Cleo that made me stay the course even after those initial misgivings just to see what would happen in this relationship. I identified with Cleo and feeling of failure at both her career and with relationships, which the author develops for the reader as the book progresses. She is not your typical damaged girl down on her luck that falls for the rich hotel business owner though. She is strong willed, almost to the point of stubbornness which made me like her even more. She doesn’t just willingly take his rich boy attitude. She has spunk and I really liked that about her.
When we meet Dante he is a total overbearing ass and there is simply no other way to describe him. A young 30-something that has a loving but distant relationship with his father and a mother that passed away at an early age, we soon learn why Dante is the man he is when he first encounters Cleo. In spite of yourself you start to slowly fall in love with this man who is so sure of what he wants that he almost doesn’t see what he has in front of him. Over time, this changes and through the course of some well-played events we see not only a softer side to Dante but we start to cheer for him. You cannot help but want this guy to not only rise to the occasion but to become the man he surely never thought he would be himself.
Despite my initial concerns with where the characters would be able to go developmentally after their tryst in Japan we soon see that much more was awaiting these characters. Dante and Cleo make plenty of mistakes, each in their own right, and the author does a great job of making the reader to want these two people to figure things out. They have some major challenges and heart break ahead of them and you won’t know until the conclusion if they make it through because the author does a great job of taking you for the ride along with them.
My main criticisms actually are with the title and the cover of the book. The author describes Dante's hair as almost barely long enough to "rake one's fingers though" as seen through the eyes of Cleo yet the cover of the book has a man that does ot fit that description at all. I also do not feel that the title fits the storyline. Dante is demanding but he does not come across as Ruthless and the arrangement that they agree to does not feel that way either. Other than those areas, and the aforementioned hasty jump in the sack, I really enjoyed discovering how Dante and Cleo would get to know one another and looked forward to seeing how their relationship would develop.
I received this electronic galley from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. Please see my Disclosure Policy for all my reviews.