SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY
Out of Bounds #4
by Tracy Solheim
Penguin Random House/Berkley
E-Book & Mass Market Paperback | Sep 01, 2015 | 304 Pages
E-Galley provided by publisher for review. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinion presented herein are my own except as noted.
Dot-com millionaire Jay McManus is discovering that owning a pro football team like the Baltimore Blaze isn’t easy. An anonymous blogger is out to destroy his reputation, and now his team is being sued by its own cheerleaders. If Jay’s not careful, he could lose big—and not just financially.
Bridgett Janik’s brother may play for the Baltimore Blaze, but she’s not thrilled to be defending Jay McManus, the man who broke her heart. It’s bad enough she has to mingle with Jay during games, but working beside her former lover may be too much for her body—and her heart—to resist.
Jay’s determined not to let Bridgett slip away from him a second time. But, as the two follow the mysterious blogger’s trail, secrets—both past and present—are revealed, and Jay and Bridgett must decide if their relationship can be something more than just sleeping with the enemy. http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/318168/sleeping-with-the-enemy-by-tracy-solheim/
I have liked each of the sport related steamy stories in the Out of Bounds series. I liked much of the Italian romance aspect of this one too, but I missed the hot athletes taking center stage. I do enjoy how interwoven these stories are as well.
A lot of this story is about a specious sexual harassment law suit brought against the Baltimore Blaze and and its owner, Jay McManus by the team cheerleaders. Unfortunately, Jay is being represented by Bridgett, the woman with whom he had a passionate thing in Italy many years before (they were both Americans there – during or just after college). It ended badly for both and though neither trusts the other they are strongly attracted to each other sexually.
He demands, from the senior partner of her law firm, that Bridgett not recuse herself from the case. If you read the blurb, above Jay is “determined not to let Bridgett slip away from him a second time.” And on Bridgett’s side: “It’s bad enough she has to mingle with Jay during games, but working beside her former lover may be too much for her body—and her heart—to resist.”
At this point in my reading of the book warning bells started to go off in my brain.
Keep in mind that I love Tracy’s series, she writes sexual encounters well, her characters are very human. What I did not like has nothing to do with the writing, with the story or really whether the book is a good value.
Also, keep in mind this is a sexual harassment suit. There are a lot of technicalities in that terminology. The EEOC says:
Harassment is unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. Harassment becomes unlawful where 1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive. (http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/harassment.cfm)
So, why, I asked myself throughout the book is Jay McManus written as the star of a “How to Sexually Harass and Create a Hostile Working Environment.” I asked Tracy about this and she replied, “My editor wanted him to be a very alpha billionaire so he’ll likely turn off some readers who don’t read those archetypes.” With work-experience and degrees in Journalism and Legislative Affairs, Tracy has a good knowledge of the legalities and intricacies of federal laws. So, there has to be a reason behind the character being set up like this.
These are very specific instances but I don’t want to provide spoilers. He repeatedly threatens to endanger her position in her law firm saying if she leaves the case he will take his business elsewhere. All the while he thinks she really wants to be with him. Maybe she does want him, but still, it doesn’t excuse the behavior. I kept thinking, so this character is going to realize he is a harassing individual whose behavior threatens Bridgett’s job, and get help to reform his behavior.
Now, this personal, internal conflict kept my mind very engaged in the story. But it was troubling. As his attorney Bridgett is not his employee, but she is subordinate. He has power over her through her job. And their common past leaves her emotionally vulnerable. Her attempts at keeping the relationship professional are brushed aside.
I think the character shows how very easy it is for a person to be harassed in their job; how easy it is to feel a real threat under the guise of “you know you want it.”
Otherwise, there is a callous attitude by Jay and his BFF towards women because of the bad experiences each had that one summer many years ago. With Jay, this is a bit of a coming of age tale, because it is when he finally gets his head out of his apparently well-muscled ass and realizes he needs to get over it.
I would really have liked to see the character get some comeuppance for his actions towards Bridgett though. Members of the football team he owns have to go to sensitivity training and, I think it is time he does too.
I don’t have to like a character for the book to be good and this is still an engaging tale. I wondered about the value of making Jay the epitome of harassment and wanted Bridgett to tell Jay his behavior is exactly what the cheerleader suit claims, or at least her boss about the situation. It demonstrates the insidious nature of Sexual Harassment and how easily suborned a woman’s will can be in this situation. Bridgett seems like a victim to me and really does seem to be “Sleeping with the Enemy.”
The lovely publishers sent me a copy to share with one winner in the USA!
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Comment Ideas to use if you like:
Have you let an old relationship hold you back?
Jay has what I think of as a dream job – what is your dream job?
Who is the better hero: the self-made man or one who inherited his wealth but still works hard?