Lead Me On (Hqn)

Lead Me On - Victoria Dahl I think that the question of whether or not someone will like this book depends on how they read romance.If you read a romance for the hero and like to place yourself in the heroine's shoes, or if you like to imagine the heroine could be your best girlfriend, then this book would be a stinker for you. If they read romance with an equal eye towards the hero and heroine for the story rather than the escape, then the heroine becomes a complex character rather than an exasperating head case you want to cut out of the loop.Jane Morgan is a secretary. She is currently the fierce gatekeeper for and partner in Quinn Jennings' architectural firm in Aspen. Armed with a conservative hairstyle and a no-nonsense sweater twinset, she is the very embodiment of respectability and upward mobility.Which is why the blue-collar excavator Billy Chase is intrigued by Jane at first. Why is Miss Prim and Proper staring at his tattoo and checking out his chest? When he asks her out to dinner and she eventually accepts he figures she's slumming it and he'll get to show her how to let loose.As it turns out, however, Jane is not at all what she seems, or what she wants people to see. Her brother's been arrested on a DUI, is caught with the contents of a few women's purses and subsequently ends up a murder suspect. Supporting her mom and ex-felon stepfather through this ordeal is the first chip in her middle-class facade. She can't support them and pretend she's not descended from what she considers trailer trash.So, the focus of the novel is not the mystery plot (and thank god) or even the romance, really, it's about Jane learning to love herself. Because she truly does hate herself and you can't love someone else when your head's in a bad place like that. She starts off blaming her mother for being a prison groupie, moving town to town marrying men in prison for life and conceiving Jane in a conjugal visit trailer. Then she blames her convict father for promising the world in his letters to her, then never making contact with her after he was released when she was 12. And, finally, she blames herself for being a trashy pre-teen and teen attention starved slut who drank, drugged and indiscriminately fucked her way through her teen angst.While watching her treat Chase like meat was exasperating at times, it was still understandable. She hadn't forgiven herself for her young mistakes. Jane Morgan wasn't comfortable being Dynasty MacKenzie and accepting that who she was then was part of who she is now. Pushing Chase away as marriage material because he's blue collar is wicked snobby, but if she still blames her working class life for all her problems, how could she react any other way?As a result, Chase ends up playing the role traditionally occupied by the romance novel heroine. He's the patient lover willing to wait her out while helping her conquer her demons with the Power of LoveĀ®. We see through his relationship with his alcoholic father that Chase is no stranger to complicated people and dependent behavior. He's not Jane's doormat, but he's laid back enough to give her the space she needs while she figures her own head out, and that means letting her use him sometimes. This was definitely the strongest book in the trilogy. There's no real suspense sub-plot to detract from the deeply emotional plot. The focus is squarely on Jane and her romance with Chase. I didn't like Jane, she was definitely too tough and broken for me to want to befriend her, but she was a fully-formed character and I enjoyed reading about her redemption all the same.