By Melanie Moreland
Richard, an high-flying advertising exec, an unrepentant tyrant to everyone around him, a man who despises everyone, especially his personal assistant, Katy. Katy, an all-suffering assistant, perfect at her job but unable to put her far too demanding boss in his place. She puts up with behavior that would have me telling my boss where to stuff it and send me running to Human Resources. But she has a reason for tolerating Richard’s attitude, an aunt with Alzheimer’s Disease, whose care Katy pays for. She can’t afford to be fired or to quit. Who’d ever dream these two opposites could ever fall in love?
When he doesn’t receive a coveted promotion, Richard decides to try to get a job at the only other major firm in the area. The problem is that the firm’s owner is family-oriented and would never hire Richard, due to his lack of stable personal relationships. Richard has to come up with a plan. Find a fiancé, a fake fiancé, and make the owner of the new firm believe it’s real. Who does he know who can fill the role? A woman who is loved by all who meet her, who can charm everyone, and is just the type to make anyone believe the romance is real? Katy, of course.
For Katy, this contract will help her support her aunt and improve the care her aunt receives. It will lighten the heavy burden of always trying to find the money to pay for the care. She despises Richard, but she can tolerate anything for a year, right?
So begins this wonderful story. Enemies, become friends, and then, maybe more. This sort of plot may have been done before, but never so well as in this delightful book by Melanie Moreland. The character development is believable in such a way, that I went from disliking Richard to adoring him, and from sort of sneering at Katy for putting up with him, to applauding the way she can take him on outside the job front, and put him in his place. The gradual change in their relationship took the exact right amount of time, not too fast, not too drawn out. We see it happen in ways that work absolutely, in ways I could see it happening with real people.
I love lots of characters in books, never content with just the two main protagonists, and this book has plenty of fun characters to satisfy me. The big engaging family who runs the new firm are delightful, people I’d love to know. They make the story better, as they interact with Richard and Katy. They help make this lovely romance richer and deeper with extra little details that, for me, take a story from good to great.
I’ve been reading Melanie’s work for a number of years now, and the contract is absolutely my favorite so far. She makes me want to smack Richard, then hug him. She makes me want to tell Katy to stand up to him, then applaud when she does. She makes me laugh, makes me angry, makes me smile. Everything a great story should make you feel. And she reminds me, as I’ve become cynical and scorn most romances, that love stories can still be wonderful things to read. I give my highest recommendation to The Contract. I only wish it could have gone on longer, because I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to these characters.