Two ambitious people team up to prove themselves to their families—and find there may be more to their partnership than just business…
Elizabeth Brannigan is determined to show her father she’s capable of running the family business. Saving his struggling Chicago bar seems like the perfect project. But she’ll need a little help dealing with the rough crowd. Who better to assist her than the handsome co-owner of a thriving Irish pub? Of course, with so much work to do, there are bound to be a few late nights…
Colin O’Leary’s father passed away before he could prove to him that he wasn’t a screw-up. Now he wants to show his brother he’s responsible enough to own a bar of his own—and Elizabeth may be able to help him. But when their professional aspirations clash, tempers—and passions—flare. Are they mature enough to mix business with pleasure—or will they have to choose between the two?
Colin shows up at the hotel where Elizabeth is interviewing candidates to work with her at the bar. He tries to convince Elizabeth that she should partner with him.
“You don’t have the business management experience or education the other candidates have.”
He smiled. “Neither does my brother, but you went to him.”
“Like the saying goes, the proof is in the pudding. He’s a success. Just because you share a branch of the family tree doesn’t guarantee me anything.”
“But you’ve seen me with people.” He thunked the chair back down on all four legs. “I was good with you.”
Between his intense blue eyes and his low bedroom voice, his words warmed her blood again.
“And that would be another reason to not work with you. I don’t have time for someone who’s more interested in flirting than working.”
“Sweetheart, you flirted with me. I took your cues and acted on them. I’m completely capable of working with a partner without sleeping with her.”
Part of Elizabeth felt relief at his statement. More of her felt another sting of disappointment.
His steely blue gaze bore into her. No sign of lust. Nothing to imply that he planned to kiss her again. Not even a hint of sexual attraction. If they pretended that night had never happened, a partnership could work.
She steadied herself for a strong negotiation. “I’ll offer you twenty-five percent profits and a bonus twenty percent when I sell, assuming you hold up your end of the bargain and bring in the customers. I remain the manager and boss and all decisions go through me.”
“Make it forty percent profits and thirty percent on sale.”
“You bring personality to the table. No proven experience, and you expect me to give you almost half the business?” She leaned back in her chair.
“My personality is the one thing you need most. It can’t be taught or bought.”
“Thirty profits and twenty-five at sale.”
He narrowed his eyes as if computing, then leaned forward. “Deal.”
“One more thing. No flirting. Just business.”
He sighed like she was being insufferable. “Contrary to popular belief, I am capable of being professional. When do we start?”
“It’s locked up, so we can start tomorrow. I’ll have the contract drawn up for you to sign when you get there. Nine a.m.?”
“I’m closing at O’Leary’s tonight. Make it eleven. Even I need my beauty sleep.”
“You plan to continue to work at O’Leary’s?”
“It’s my family’s bar.”
“I’m not a simpleton. There are only so many hours in a day. I won’t have you thinking you can drop by The Irish just to collect a check.”
His smile was disarming. “Sweetheart, simple isn’t what anyone would call you. I’ll prove my worth soon enough. Seems a lot of people expect that.” He rose and extended his hand. “I’ll sign your contract, but a handshake will do for me.”
She shook his hand and tried to ignore its strength and warmth and the zing of her nerves. As he turned to leave, she enjoyed the view and immediately began to question her sanity. She’d just created a business partnership based on a man’s charm. What the hell was she thinking
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This is a dramatic read that both delighted and frustrated me!
Elizabeth’s a very serious, intelligent, businesswoman that has absolutely no street smarts, and no social skills. She’s bitten off more than she can chew, and her only saving grace is a sexy bartender with a tempting offer.
I didn’t love this character, but I didn’t hate her. She has a serious case of tunnel vision, is terribly paranoid, and internalizes her anxiety. All of this, of course, is caused by a dysfunctional family. The only time she’s ever at ease is with Colin, but she can’t see past her own agenda long enough to enjoy what’s right in front of her face.
Colin’s ready to branch out on his own but he’s used up all of his resources. Every step he takes towards the door only rehashes memories of a time when he was less than admirable. When a stuffy, new patron turns out to be a bar owner looking for help, he takes the opportunity to prove his worth. The silver tongued devil has finally met his match, however, and has to earn his keep.
The more I read, the more I liked Colin. At first, his intentions weren’t pure, but there’s more than what meets the eye with him.
This is an interesting romance that doesn’t quite contradict the old mantra, “opposites attract”, but doesn’t fit perfectly, either. While both characters have similarities that bring them together, their differences are an attraction as well. I loved the sensual scenes and was quite taken by the sweet nature of the relationship at times. There’s a great deal of family drama, both good and bad, a love that blossoms, and a saboteur in the shadows. I enjoyed the writing style, the plot, and the ending.