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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Luring a Lady

**** Luring a Lady by Nora Roberts. Contemporary romance. Re-read.

Little snippet of trivia about this 2nd book in the Stanislaski series: that lady in yellow there? That's Nora.

Sydney Hayward is a divorced socialite who's just inherited her grandfather's company. Everyone thinks she'll play at being CEO for a little while, then get bored with it and go back to what's really important: socializing. Sydney, on the other hand, is determined to live up to her grandfather's trust and do a good job.

Mikhail Stanislaski is a Ukranian immigrant, brother of Natasha from Taming Natasha, and a renowned sculptor.

Sydney meets Mik when he shows up at her office, without an appointment, complaining about the conditions in one of her apartment buildings. Annoyed but challenged, she visits the building, is dismayed by its condition, and hires Mik, who admitted he's "sometimes a carpenter," to oversee the necessary repairs.

There are obstacles from the other officers of the company, who think she should be thinking of the profits, and from her mother and Channing--her mother's choice of a second husband for Sydney--who think she should be focusing on planning her wedding. In the face of all this, finding out that Mik isn't just a carpenter is small potatoes.

This is a pretty standard early-90s romance (1991). The heroine has a masculine name (I got a chuckle when Mik objected to it), and she has no problem whatsoever running a pretty big company without any training that we can see. We never find out how big the company is, but it has stockholders and a board of directors, so I'm assuming it does more than just own/manage one or two apartment buildings. These things you just kind of have to accept and move on.

Sydney's mother is a fairly flat villain, as is Sydney's corporate nemesis. We don't really get motivations for either of them.

But Sydney's determination to do the right thing, and to make a difference, particularly in the face of so much resistance, is inspiring to watch. She was absolutely convincing--starting off as the confident rich woman to whom nobody says "no", she's initially offended by Mik's anger and protest, but her strength shows, and she takes it as a challenge. Then she doesn't duck the blame for the company's negligence--instead she accepts responsibility and begins to solve the problem. And when she discovers Mik's fame/talent, instead of flying into a rage like 90% of the heroines in Romancelandia would do, she swallows her initial reaction and carries on. Just lovely.

Also lovely is the Stanislaski family, and the contrast between their warmth and boisterousness (although really--why do all grown-up brothers in the Noraverse indulge in fisticuffs?) and the cold reserve of the Haywards.

It's Sydney's story, really--she has the changing to do. All Mik has to do is fall in love. Which is not to say he doesn't have a few difficult moments with it, but he's pretty much fine the way he is. Sydney will, I'm sure, smooth out what rough edges remain.


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Is that lady really Nora? WOW, never knew. I never have the old copy but I have the reissues copy :)
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