Review: Take Hold of Tomorrow

Take Hold of Tomorrow Take Hold of Tomorrow by Daphne Clair
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Stella Rawson is a widow and the sole owner of a large, successful electronics company after the death of her husband, Mark. Since she is beautiful and was considerably younger than her husband, she'd had to prove herself to the company, to show them that she was deserving of the management position Mark had put her in. Now that she's in charge of everything, Stella works doubly hard to be seen as more than a figurehead and to be respected by the company's board members, all of whom are male. When she pushes for the hiring of a young, brilliant whiz kid educated in America for an important management position, the board members are suspicious because Russ Langford, all of twenty-five years old to Stella's twenty-nine, is also lean, tall, and ridiculously good-looking. Stella, who has to be beyond reproach at all times, must prove to her board members that Russ was hired due to his brains and technical know-how, and not for his abs and pretty blue eyes.

Luckily, Russ is brilliant, self-assured, and gains the respect of his team right away. Upon getting to know him, Stella discovers that it is not so easy to stay cool and professional when a mere glance from the man gets her all hot and bothered. Though Stella is initially reluctant to admit it, Russ is not only a treasure to the company, but is also easy to talk to and hang out with after office hours. They develop a quick rapport with each other and at first, only a mild flirtation, and Stella is careful to keep their friendship out of the office.

But the friendship develops into something a little more when the casual end-of-date kisses turn into long, passionate embraces and desperate groping sessions. Stella finds herself falling headlong in love with Russ and begins to steadily go out with him and even eat lunch with him at the office—though they remain totally professional when others are around—uncaring when people in the company start to talk. Or at the very least, it doesn’t bother Stella at first. Until one board member, who has designs upon Stella’s person, points out that Russ is indeed a very clever, very ambitious young man eager to make his own path in the business world and what better way to do so than to seduce the lonely, lovelorn, love-starved widow into marrying him so he could get his hands on her very successful company? Stella brushes this off at first, but niggling doubts soon begin to take root. After all, she and Russ have yet to make love even though they’ve had a few close calls and Stella realizes she needs that intimacy. When Russ confesses his love for her and proposes marriage, but still holds out on the sex, Stella begins to get suspicious herself. Is Russ playing her after all, stringing along the rapacious and love-starved widow with promises of sexual delights in exchange for matrimony? Why would they have to get married? Why couldn’t they just be lovers for now? Could the vile innuendoes and vicious gossips be true and Russ really only wants to get his hands on her money and company?

Though Stella has moments of insecurity about their age difference—ooh, four years, big whoop—she is really more worried about whether Russ is as emotionally invested in their relationship as she is, especially when she sees him out with another girl, younger and prettier than Stella, at the fair while she is there with her goddaughter. After all, while she could be in love with him, Russ’ feelings for her could be more casual and not as deep, and she really didn’t want to risk another heartbreak since she had loved her husband very much and was utterly despondent when he died.

Another really great aspect of this story is the pacing. While Stella and Russ are obviously instantly attracted to each other, their relationship is allowed to progress organically and they start out as friends who enjoy each other’s company (they play Scrabble, chess, or just sit together companionably) . I especially enjoyed that scene on the beach (not to be confused with the Other beach scene, which tickled me pink) where Stella is lying on her stomach sunbathing and Russ comes up to rub lotion on her back and Stella becomes breathless with anticipation but nothing else happens.

I also liked how Stella’s grief and love for her dead husband was dealt with. It wasn’t just shoved by the wayside to make room for this newer, hotter love, but actually explored. It was also very refreshing to read about a heroine who had loved deeply before the hero arrived and even had satisfying sex life with her husband. I’m happy that dead husband wasn’t a brute, a louse, a cheat, and was genuinely loved by the heroine. I hate it when a previous love is made to look bad just to show that the heroine has never found love like she has with the hero. ::eye roll::

And shocker: Stella’s worries and insecurities are actually fairly relatable and reasonable and not overly neurotic. Russ is a dreamboat, though he does stumble a little near the end and ventures into whiny-man-baby territory for a hot minute. It’s also refreshing to read about a hero who is not “mine, mine, mine” all the time nor overly grab-happy, and just wants to be seen as a man in his own right. Just the perfect amount of alpha tendencies to make him sexily grrrowly and dangerous , but not enough to turn him into an alpha hole, with just a dash of beta to make him charming and sweet.

Really, really liked this book. I think it’s gonna go in the keeper shelf.

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