“Ms. Strickland was known for her perfect handling of any and every situation. She could juggle multiple phone calls simultaneously, whip up elaborate spreadsheets that had the analyst in him weeping with joy, and produce oolong tea out of thin air. But she had finally met her match in a dingy strip club on Chicago’s North Side. The woman could not dance.”
– Taking the Score, Locations 428-431
Emma’s life is going down the shitter fast. She working to pay of her sister’s debt, by moonlighting as stripper, and trying to keep up appearances during the day as Brody Kanes’s drab, fashion challenged personal assistant. She tries so hard to leave her wild child, bad girl days behind her but it’s more difficult than she can imagine. Especially, when all she secretly wants is for her boss to bend her over her desk. That wish may be within her grasp when she finds herself on the giving end of the most awkward lap dance of her ill-fated stripping career.
Brody can’t stop lusting after the sensible, prim, seemingly uptight Emma. He finds himself fantasising about her. His friends encourage him to scratch the itch but he’s got professional integrity. That integrity is punted straight out the window when he takes an important client to a strip club and gets the worst lap dance in the history of lap dances. From, none other than, Ms Strickland.
Initially, I was apprehensive because the writing seemed to be much of a muchness to every other romance novel out there but I was proven wrong rather quickly. Kate Meader has a great sense of humour and this comes across seamlessly in Emma and Brody’s story. This isn’t necessarily a laugh out loud story but her turn of phrase and quick quips, make the reading easy.
“‘Chardonnay,’ he murmured, not quite believing that anyone would choose to be called that. She blinked. Apparently, she’d already forgotten her stripper name, and his heart cheered at the notion that perhaps this wasn’t her normal.” Locations 463-465
“He raised a hand imperiously. ‘That’s not the problem I’m referring to. Of course, your taking your clothes off at a strip club is probably not the image I’d like to convey to our clients but there’s nothing in your contract that says you can’t have a second job.’ He sounded extremely annoyed at that loophole. ‘The problem I’m referring to is your insistence that you need to, and I use the term loosely, dance to express yourself. I don’t believe that. What kind of debt do you have?'” Locations 855-858
“She curled up into his chest and let him hold her while she staved off tears at how shitty everything was except this one perfect thing. Brody was the one person she could trust right now. He seemed to recognize the moment, that her begging for him to lose control was her way of trying to wrest it for herself. She’d used him to feel good, yet he was holding her like she mattered.” Locations 1501-1504
This Pretty Woman-esque story was a real page turner. The plot is not entirely original, but what plot is nowadays? It’s the execution that I am more concerned with. This could have been a standard modern damsel in distress romance, where she doesn’t want his money but he forces his help on her anyway, but somehow, this novel is more than that. Emma is whip sharp and her personality really blooms as the story progresses. Brody is broody with his heart really is in the right place and a few snappy one-liners of his own. My favourite character in the entire book is actually an auxiliary one. Katerina is a fellow stripper and tries, in her own dower eastern bloc way, to help Emma. I wish that there was an entire book about Katerina with her sass and dour delivery. Maybe Meader will do me a solid!
There are these little moments tucked away in the narrative, where the author seems to be mocking the romance genre. It’s very tongue in cheek, and harmless but I appreciated the sentiment and this story’s ability to laugh at itself. If you like a good boy meets girl, she gives a terrible lap dance, he falls even when he doesn’t want to, they have a falling out, his grand gesture doesn’t work kinda story, give this a go.
My rating: 3½/5
Buy Taking the Score on Amazon.
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