Author: Ali Atwood
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: MM Contemporary
Summary: Cody Madrid wasn’t born into privilege. He grew up in a crime-infested trailer park and suffered a childhood from hell. The gritty start to life didn’t break him. It fired his determination to make something of himself. With discipline, hard work and some unexpected luck, he founded Starwest Industries and built it into a multimillion-dollar empire.
Ben Jackson grew up in a loving family, enjoyed a picture-perfect childhood and aspires to become a fine artist. He’s vacationing in Greece when he literally falls at Cody’s feet. Their meeting is electric, but forestalled when Ben receives tragic news from home. As a result, he puts his artistic ambitions on hold, and looks for a full-time job to help support his family.
When Ben is hired by Starwest Industries, he has no idea that Cody Madrid owns the company. Their professional relationship means Ben has to work closely with the most compelling man he’s ever met without falling in love with him. Though Cody is still closeted, he finds himself falling hard and fast for the blond, blue-eyed Ben. But Cody has issues to work on, and someone has a hold on Ben. He’s been trapped into living a lie that could ruin any chance of a future with Cody.
Review: Ben is on a holiday in Greece when he trips and falls, yes, at Cody’s feet. He ends up scraping his knees and Cody takes him to render first aid. While they are on their way to a night together Ben gets a devastating phone call from home. He has to return to California and try to take care of his family. This is how Ben ends up looking for a job not in his field, to try to make some money for his brother’s medical bills.
The interview was odd, basically a set-up and a bribe to spy on another company. I was shocked that Collingsworth, the boss, put his trust in someone like that and I was more surprised that Ben accepted the deal without question. Ben didn’t seem naïve, but those were my thoughts as he took the job. Desperation leads to poor choices sometimes. And of course, he ends up working for a women he likes and respects, while the boss ends up being…Cody.
They try to keep things professional for a bit and closeted Cody has some serious hot and cold moments. The secret of how Ben got the job is always looming over them, as well. I liked the interaction Ben has at work, other than Cody sometimes! He actually starts off right away with, “Ben, about our meeting in Greece, I’d rather you didn’t mention it to anyone at Starwest Industries.” But it’s right around the corner that Ben is invited by Cody to Santa Barbra for the weekend. So, he’s aggravating. It is telling that Ben believes his boss is honest, yet “…Ben believed Cody was capable of using dishonest means to further his interests…”
There were some things in this story that worked really well for me and then some that didn’t. I really thought Ben capitulated way too easily at the end because let’s be honest – Cody was a jerk and humiliated him. Yes, Ben had started off with less than stellar intentions but Cody was closeted, pushing him away and treating him like a dirty secret before he even knew that. And didn’t listen when Ben tried to explain. My rating was a 4 for Ben, probably a 2 for Cody. But then Cody had some romantic moments and Ben was captivated, so maybe he had cause to be forgiving.
I liked the plot itself, and Janet, Ben’s boss, is lovely. Cody and Ben have some good moments but when Janet says, “I’m guessing you’re making Cody feel things he doesn’t want to feel. I’d advise you to give him more time” I just felt bad for Ben but had some sympathy for Cody as well – he doesn’t tell Ben his story, but Janet does. I look back and realize I sound really critical of Cody and I didn’t for all of it. But I did for quite a bit!
I’d recommend this for those who like their MC to work for it and for the intrigue of the corporate world. Let’s not forget Janet, because I really liked and respected her. Ben is also lovely and I seriously wish I could have seen him punch Collingsworth before it ended!