Her Favorite Rival
Harlequin / September 3, 2013 / $5.75 print, $4.99 digital
A new meaning for office politics
Audrey Mathews has worked hard to get here. Now she's up for a promotion and nothing will stand in her way—including Zach Black. He's hot, smart and the competition. When they're assigned to the same project, she's shocked at how much she actually likes about him…and how much she misjudged him.
Before long Audrey is seriously falling for Zach—and indulging in an affair that's against company policy. And the stakes rise when it's clear only one of them can get ahead. So where do they draw the line between competition and love? Especially when she doesn't want to lose either the promotion or the guy….
A new book by Sarah Mayberry is always a reason to celebrate, and Her Favorite Rival continues her winning streak.
All of us know the dangers and pitfalls of dating someone from work. It is extremely difficult to keep your personal life private, but horrors, what if the worst happens, and you have a contentious breakup? Not only will you have to see this person on a daily basis, but you put your livelihood in jeopardy. So why could anyone take a chance?
But sometimes there is just such a powerful connection between two people—you know the one I am talking about. Chemistry, of course, but a sense of familiarity and intimacy. And why not, because you are with this person day in and day out. Sometimes you have to let go of common sense and take a leap of faith. But what is this person is also your rival for a promotion?
That is the messy situation Ms. Mayberry devised for her characters Audrey Mathews and Zach Black, as each treks through the pitfalls of being attracted to a professional rival. How they come to realization that their competitor means more to them then the advancement of their career is the core of this heartwarming book. With a deft touch of angst, Ms. Mayberry creates the motivation that has makes both Audrey and Zach so single-minded about their respective careers:
Audrey closed her eyes, aware of the old, old hollow feeling behind her breastbone. Every now and then, her mother or father or sister said something that gave her a glimpse into the world they shared with one another—cozy dinners for three, outings to the theater, European holidays. Last week, a mother-daughter spa day.
And Audrey hadn’t spoken to any of them for over a month. Even after so many years, it hurt to know it all went on without her.
And Zach, well, he has always been the parent, talking care of his mother rather than the other way around:
For a long time now, his energies had been focused on only two things—protecting his mother from herself and establishing himself in his career. Everything else—women, friendships, outside interests—had taken a backseat.
Balanced with the angst is humor and unspoken, and unacknowledged, attraction. Audrey and her best friend, Megan, meet after work at their favorite dive to decompress and talk about pending changes the new CEO Henry Whitman, known as the Executioner, will make in the company:
I tell you who won’t be going, though—Zach. Fifty bucks he gets a promotion out of all of this.”
Audrey reached for the fries. “He’s not that good.”
“Sorry, sweetie, but he is. He’s smart, he’s good at what he does and he could charm a snake out of its skin.”
Audrey rolled her eyes. “You’re only saying that because you have a soft spot for him.”
“Yeah, it’s called a vagina.” . . ....
He’s just a man, Megsy. He takes his pants off one leg at a time. He probably has trouble finding the clitoris like every other male on the planet.”
“Honey, Zach knows exactly where the clitoris is. All you have to do is look into his eyes to know that.”
An odd little shiver ran down Audrey’s spine. She knew what Megan was talking about—the knowing, dirty glint in Zach’s eyes that spoke of tangled sheets and roaming hands and healthy earthy curiosity.
“Stop it. I don’t want to think about Zach in relation to my clitoris or any other body part.”
“Ahem.”. . .
Everything in her went very still. She closed her eyes. “Please tell me Zach isn’t standing behind me.”
Of course Audrey only digs herself deeper in a hole with her explanation:
“Maybe I’m a bit thick, but I can’t come up with too many contexts that feature your clitoris and me in the same conversation that aren’t exactly what I’m thinking.”
“We were actually discussing the likelihood of you being promoted,” she said a little desperately.
He slipped his hands into his trouser pockets and considered her for a moment. “Okay, I’ll bite. What on earth has that got to do with your clitoris?”
She gritted her teeth. “Could you stop saying that, please?”
“Yes.” . . .
“Would you prefer me to call it something else? Little man in the boat? Love button?”
The sizzling attraction only gets hotter when they are asked to work together on a new project. Audrey knows she is in trouble:
All he had to do was walk into the room these days and she could feel her body warming. She didn’t even want to imagine what he could do if he put his mind to it.
Okay, she did. But she wasn’t going to, because she loved her job, and she wanted to get ahead, and sleeping with Zach was the best way she could think of to destroy both those things.
And Zach—well, he finds himself sliding down the slippery slope too:
He started at the computer screen, only now registering how much he’d been enjoying their exchange. How engaged he’d been, imagining Audrey sitting up in bed tapping away at her laptop, wearing nothing but one of those tight little tank tops and a pair of lacy panties . . .
Maybe it was just as well she’d signed off, before he let lack of sleep and the intimacy of the early hour lead him into dangerous territory.
Audrey might be sexy and funny and smart, but she was still his coworker. He had no business thinking about her panties.
Her Favorite Rival is delicious story that illustrates what can be in store when you meet the right person in the workplace. It almost convinces me to give my co-workers a second look.
Learn more or pre-order a copy of Her Favorite Rival by Sarah Mayberry before its release (September 3, 2013):
Leigh Davis, Blogger