A sexy chocolatier and his under-appreciated assistant discover you can't have too much of a good thing in USA Today bestselling author Lisa Plumley's delectable new novel. . .
After ten years of saving her boss's (admittedly gorgeous) butt, stifling her crush, and being endlessly inconvenienced, administrative assistant Natasha Jennings has had enough. True, chocolatier Damon Torrance is every bit as irresistible as the confections created by Torrance Chocolates. The man is sex on a stick dipped in 70% Tanzanian Cacao. But for the sake of her career, her sanity, and possibly her heart, Natasha has to go.
Money, success, women. . .everything comes easily to Damon. Until Natasha hands in her notice. He needs to get her, and his mojo, back--fast. But from the moment Damon rings Natasha's doorbell and steps into her personal life, he starts feeling things he never has before. For once, the notorious playboy wants to be good. Which makes it extra inconvenient that Natasha is suddenly tempted to try being a little wicked. And the results may be sweeter than either ever anticipated. . .
"Lisa Plumley creates charming characters. Her books are a delight!" --Rachel Gibson
Raves for Holiday Affair
"A deliciously satisfying, cocoa-worthy holiday read." --Library Journal
"A delightful story with utterly charming characters." –Romantic Times Book Reviews
He believed in perfect surf, unassailable integrity, and the ultimate Baja fish taco. He believed in making connections, making things happen, and making a never-fail margarita (it was all about the blue agave tequila). He believed that nudity was better than wearing ... anything at all, no matter how pricey the clothes were or where you happened to be going.
He believed that rules were made to be broken and that whoever had said virtue was its own reward probably hadn't tried hard enough to be bad first. He believed that person shouldn't have made that decision so damn hastily. Or so publicly. Because that idiot had ruined it for everyone else who just wanted to have a good time.
When it came right down to it, more than anything else, Damon believed that life was too short to waste time with anything less than hundred-percent pleasure. Plain and simple.
That's why, when he found himself spending a week with an attractive, capable, flirtatious, and ultra-available journalist (she made it bluntly, sexily, one-step-short-of-manhandling-him obvious that she was single) who was writing a profile of him and his family's company, Torrance Chocolates, for Oceanside Living magazine's "Getting to Know ..." feature, Damon took the only reasonable action.
He let her seduce him. On his desk. In full view of the glittering Pacific Ocean outside. Right between his stapler and his office phone, with his brand-new, full-size desk calendar for a cushion. Not that Kimberly (the journalist) bothered to scout a prime location before she smiled, dropped her notepad, and lunged at him.
It would have been rude to say no, Damon reasoned. So he met her kiss with a sliding, seductive, nice-to-meet-you lip-lock of his own ... and before he knew it, they were "Getting to Know ..." each other pretty damn well. Kimberly's warmth was a sharp contrast to the brisk ocean breeze coming in off the Pacific. Her perfume added synthetic flowers and spice to the sugary smells of the confectionary shop downstairs. Her breath panted over him. Her I'm-a-professional suit jacket hit the floor. So did his I'm-supposed-to-be-working shirt. They kissed a little more. Then they kissed again, more passionately.
A discordant electronic jangle startled them both.
Kimberly quit kissing him. She frowned. "What was that?"
"Who cares?" Right on cue, it happened again. At the sound, Damon glanced sideways. "Oh. It's my father's BlackBerry."
At her mystified expression, Damon nodded at the device.
"It's used to get e-mails and appointments on the go. I gave it to my dad as a birthday present, but he didn't take to the technology the way I hoped he would. That's why it's in here and not with him." Damon smiled at her. Confidingly, he added, "I think he's afraid he's going to drop 'that expensive gadget' into a vat of bittersweet chocolate ganache or something."
It was semi-likely. Jimmy Torrance spent most of his time and all his creativity on the family business. That's how he'd turned a tiny seaside sweetshop into one of San Diego's favorite "hidden treasures" for thirty years running. That's how he'd earned himself the very office that he shared with Damon today.
"Aw. You gave your dad a birthday present?" Kimberly cooed, running her fingers over his bare chest. "That's so sweet!"
"It's not that unusual, actually. He is my dad, after all. I give my mom something on her birthday every year, too."
Kimberly shook her head, seeming inordinately impressed with his filial devotion. "I knew you were more than just a studly corporate hotshot." More stroking. "You're a nice guy, too! I have to say, when I heard I'd be profiling the company's head of Internet development, I was expecting to meet someone a lot more ..." Here, she broke off. She gave him a thorough once-over. She shrugged. "Well ... geekier."
Damon grinned. "You can't judge a book by its cover. Any second now, I might start talking about byte serving, hypertext transfer protocol, and compression scheme negotiation."
"I have a better idea." Kimberly slid her hands lower. She cupped his ass, then hauled him nearer. "Don't talk at all."
"Yes, ma'am." Agreeably, Damon concentrated on using his mouth for more diverting activities than talking. But even as he did, his dad's BlackBerry chimed again. Damon began remembering something—something he ought to have remembered earlier.
At the same time, a familiar voice floated down the corridor outside his office. "Damon? Well, I guess you'd say he's a genius," his father was telling someone proudly. "His official promotion was a long time coming. He resisted it, but—"
Whatever else Jimmy said was lost to Damon. He was too busy simultaneously enjoying the naughty way Kimberly was nibbling on his ear and trying to remember what his father had said earlier.
All that came to mind was his father saying, as he'd done a million times a day since Damon had been old enough to outwit his first babysitter and go looking for adventure, "You've got to focus, Damon. Focus! Try to behave for once. All right?"
But all those requests were bona fide lost causes, and they both knew it. Who did his father think he'd been raising all this time? One of the Backstreet Boys? A new Disney teenybopper idol?
Hell, no. There was no fun to be had in being good. Damon knew that. There was no glory to be found in staying focused, either. All that mattered was looking ahead ... and maybe finding out if Kimberly's freckles meandered all the way to her cleavage. Curiously, Damon started unbuttoning her shirt.
The voices outside grew louder. His father—and his unknown guest—were coming closer. Probably to this office. Damon swore.
With a mighty effort, he wrenched himself away from Kimberly. He peeked down at his desk calendar. It was rumpled. It had slid pretty far sideways. But Damon could still make out something handwritten on the square representing today's date.
There, right next to Kimberly's delectable bare thigh, were the words administrative assistant and the time, 9:30.
Having deciphered his father's unmistakable scrawl, Damon blinked in surprise. "You can write on these things?"
Kimberly laughed. "That's what they're for, silly."
"Oh. I thought it was decorative. But in my own defense, I don't spend much time in the office." Momentarily distracted again, Damon lowered his gaze to the cleavage he'd revealed, framed now by Kimberly's silky unbuttoned shirt. He looked at the high, high slit on her Ally McBeal-style miniskirt (damn, he loved that trend), then stroked his fingers over her knee. "It made a really fine landing pad, though. You were clever enough to discover that for us."
"It was my pleasure. Believe me." Kimberly gave him another sultry look. She seemed to specialize in them. "Now ... where were we?"
"Right about ... here." Damon squeezed her thigh. Another kiss kept him pinned atop her, even as he heard footsteps coming nearer. Just then, he didn't care. Life was all about enjoyment.
"... and this is where you'll be spending most of your time," Jimmy Torrance said as he opened the office door. "I'm afraid you might be stuck inside a lot, but the view is awfully nice."
"Oh, yes, it is nice," his father's female guest said in an appreciative tone. Her footsteps preceded his into the office. "I love the ocean!" There was a pause. Then, in a wry voice, she added, "Will the guy who's humping like a bunny on the desk be here every day? Or is that a one-time-only thing?"
No one ever answered her question. Natasha Jennings would have been lying if she'd said she wasn't disappointed by that.
In the few minutes it took for Jimmy Torrance to hastily cross the room, shut off his dinging BlackBerry on the other unoccupied desk, and confer with the desktop Casanova and his nearly naked female partner, though, she did learn several interesting facts about her new workplace.
First of all, she learned that either today was Nooky Monday orTorrance Chocolates was a lot more freewheeling than she'd anticipated. Second, she learned that it was both busier and much more charming—given its location inside a two-story former surf shop in La Jolla—than she'd foreseen based on her initial interview. Third, she learned that although her official job title was administrative assistant, they might as well have had miracle worker printed on her business cards.
Because so far, all she'd done was tour the shop, the chocolate-making kitchen downstairs, and the several makeshift offices upstairs, and already Natasha could see that Torrance Chocolates needed help. They had plenty of drive, heart, and inspiration, that was true; but their transition from mom-and-pop shop to burgeoning corporate power player was clearly overwhelming them. At the moment, they were short of staff, space, and direction. To manage those things, they needed her.
Jimmy Torrance and the rest of his staff might not know it yet, but the smartest thing they'd ever done was choose Natasha from among the dozens of (curiously bodacious-looking) applicants she'd seen during the open interviews last month.
In fact, it occurred to her, most of those applicants had looked a lot like the woman who'd been doing the horizontal desktop tango a minute ago. They'd been made up, perfumed, and dressed to attract. They'd worn super-high stilettos and trendily flat-ironed hair. Most inexplicably, they'd been unable to say the name of their potential future boss, Damon Torrance, without giggling and trading giddy, girlish glances with each other.
All in all, the experience had been a lot like interviewing for a job as head groupie for a rock band. Which, in retrospect, made Natasha wonder why Jimmy Torrance had chosen her. Because while she did have her share of vanity—and her very own flat iron, lip gloss, and high heels—what she didn't have was the kind of va-va-voom necessary to hold the attention of a rock star ... or the corporate equivalent of one.
Not that she cared about that too much, Natasha reminded herself. She didn't need nonstop reinforcement of her own attractiveness. Especially not now and especially not at work.
As the daughter of parents who'd both held down more than one job on several occasions—just to make ends meet—Natasha understood the value of hard work. She'd made it through high school and graduated from community college and then UCSD, all while working full-time to pay her tuition.
This was her chance to kick off her career, and Natasha wanted to succeed. Admittedly, she was starting at the bottom, but still ... she was only twenty-four. She was here. She was in at a growing company. Unlike her competition, she hadn't had to outfit herself in sexed-up "office attire" like a hot-to-trot fugitive Victoria's Secret model to make it happen, either.
Speaking of hot-to-trot ...
Natasha gave the office-hopping Lothario a second look. He was probably only a couple of years older than she was, but he'd made her first day at Torrance Chocolates memorable, that's for sure. She wondered if he made the rounds of all the offices and all the different desks, or if he'd come in here solely for the spectacular view—which, in hindsight, had only been improved by the addition of him, looking all shirtless and muscular and dark-haired and intense, doing his thing in the middle of it.
Either way, she doubted this particular incident was his first time getting lucky at work. Whoever he was, he had that aura about him—a quality that made people want to be close to him. Looking at him more carefully now only confirmed Natasha's initial impression: this was a man for whom things came easily, whether those things were women, good times, or success.
Speaking of success ...
Where was her über-impressive new wunderkind boss? She wasn't going to be working as a direct report to Jimmy Torrance, Natasha remembered as she watched Mr. Desktop considerately shield his paramour from view so she could get dressed. She was going to work for Jimmy's son, the famously titillating Damon Torrance, who'd been curiously absent from the hiring process.
He's pretty easygoing about these things, Jimmy had explained with a nonchalant wave. He'll be happy with my choice.
Natasha hoped Jimmy was right. As she watched the now-dressed woman scoop up a notepad, a pen, and several glossy issues of Oceanside Living from the credenza, she further hoped that whoever worked in this office wasn't too attached to their desktop calendar. Because although Mr. Desktop hastily gave it a sideways shove to straighten it, the calendar looked wrecked. The only way to extract any useful information from it would be to read and interpret the butt prints. Everybody knew that, in the Internet age, butt-based cryptanalysis was a dying art.
Finally, the door shut behind the woman. Silence descended on the office, emphasized by the low crash of the surf outside.
Jimmy cleared his throat. The mystery man didn't speak, leaving Natasha plenty of time to notice that in addition to behaving in an undeniably chivalrous manner toward the woman, he'd also tried to compose himself by dragging on his shirt. But that effort was largely ineffective. He'd buttoned his shirt crookedly, he still seemed ... distracted somehow (probably by thoughts of all the workplace exhibitionist sex he was missing out on), and his dark wavy hair, while doing a very good job of framing his handsome, sharp-nosed, stubble-jawed face, looked all bedhead-y and messy, too. It was way too easy to imagine him actually lolling around sexily in bed, Natasha thought, which definitely spoiled the whole "I'm hard at work" effect.
Evidently he hadn't gotten the memo that, these days, all the cool guys gunked up their hair with gel. Even her husband, Paul, who'd been a hard-core flannel-and-grunge guy when they'd met, now looked like a runaway member of 'N Sync. It could have been worse, though. He could have developed a thing for those velour tracksuits or the loud shirts worn by TV poker players.
Natasha was sick to death of poker. If she never saw another green baize table with sunglasses-wearing card players around it—on TV, in a movie, or at a party—it would be too soon. In fact, she didn't even know why poker was so popular. American Idol she understood. Kelly Clarkson really was talented; she'd deserved her win. As current pop culture phenomena went, even the merging of J.Lo and Ben Affleck into "Bennifer" was easier to tolerate. As a matter of fact, Natasha was kind of rooting for them both. At heart, she was a die-hard romantic. She wanted true love to conquer all. So when it came right down to it ...
Suddenly, she realized that Mr. Desktop was watching her. There was no question: He'd caught her daydreaming on the job. It was a good thing he wasn't her boss, Natasha told herself with a stalwart lift of her chin, because she didn't think she wanted a supervisor who could read her so easily. She definitely didn't want one who looked quite so ... fascinating while he did it.
No wonder he'd successfully seduced a woman on a desktop. In broad daylight. With strangers wandering the halls outside. Mr. Desktop had some kind of remarkable give-it-to-me mojo—some kind of you-know-you-want-to appeal that would have softened even the hardest of hearts. Or opened even the most tightly crossed legs. Not that she wanted to open her legs, but still ...
Vividly, Natasha imagined herself on that desk, crumpling the calendar with her own nearly naked booty, having her shirt unbuttoned and her neck kissed, with her breasts heaving and her thighs parting as she pulled Mr. Desktop closer and closer....
Melt into You 3.6 out of 5based on
More than 1 year ago
Natasha Jennings takes a job as assistant to Damon Torrance, heir to a chocolate company on the verge of meteoric rise. Natasha has done her homework and if she has to give up her dreams to support her husband’s then she wants to help Torrance Chocolates rise to the top, taking her with them.
Damon Torrance lives by the mantra all work and no play makes for a dull person. He considers himself lucky, he plays hard, works little and beds every woman who gives him the come on, which is all of them.
This is a well-written book that has moments of humor and insight. However, the characters of Natasha and Damon are not very likeable. Damon is an ass. His antics have him constantly needing bailed out by Natasha and he’s a man-whore. He beds anything in a skirt in any place he feels like and to hell with what anyone thinks of him because he’s Mr. Perfect who can charm his way out of anything. We rarely see him do a lick of work in this book. I couldn’t stand him. He becomes a bit more likeable and actually seems human at the end.
Natasha has a thing for Damon so she puts up with his crap for 10 years. He never noticed she was pregnant or that she went through a divorce. Really?! He never thinks about how very much she does for him, yet she continues to be his doormat. Until the day she finally leaves. I really began to like her then. But then she had to take him into her home and, here we go again, with Mr. Charm getting exactly what he wants.
They redeem themselves a bit at the end, but it would’ve been nice if Damon hadn’t been so 'Perfect' from the start and Natasha less of a doormat. He was beyond irritating, she a little less so. Since this is my first Lisa Plumley book, I’ll read a few more just to see if this was a one-off for me.
*Many thanks to Kensington for providing me with a review copy. Please see disclaimer page on my blog.
More than 1 year ago
I wish I could have liked the main characters but they were unlikable with no real developement. The plot was thin so it never had a chance to carry the characters. Don't bother with this book as it is a serious waste of time and money!
More than 1 year ago
More than 1 year ago
...by the time this book was over, I wanted to hug the two of them. Very good book, well written, portrays Damon as a spoiled rich kid at first, but you come to see that the attitude is a cover-up for a sensitive man who wants people to love him for him, not his money and his chocolate company. Very adorable ending. Kids, dogs, love, what more can you want? I definitely give this book 5 stars.
More than 1 year ago
More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the story! It was very sweet with a couple of twists.