Nightcap (2008)

By Kathleen O'Reilly

Sean O'Sullivan's claims that his family's landmark bar is the victim of City Hall shenanigans only means more work for Cleo Hollings, the mayor's number one mover and shaker. Since Sean's got her busy, she decides she'll keep Mr. Testosterone busy, too...but between the sheets.

Yet sleeping with the hunky O'Sullivan isn't that simple. Everyone said Sean would be inexhaustible--even unforgettable. Nobody warned her he was lovable, too. Now other clubs' drinks taste like dust. Nothing measures up to a nightcap--with a chaser of O'Sullivan stud!
Oh, my. Who writes this Harlequin Blaze back cover copy?

Although I didn't enjoy this third installment of O'Reilly's "Those Sexy O'Sullivans" trilogy as much as Sex, Straight Up, I thought Nightcap was the perfect read for me last week. Sick? Stressed? Feeling a little blue? Then you need Kathleen O'Reilly's cure, which involves humor and sex and people even more miserably stressed out than you are. They learn to have a good time and find out that everything will be all right. Why shouldn't the rest of us?

But whereas Sex, Straight Up featured reliable, adorable, completely normal Daniel and quiet, uncertain, completely normal Catherine, Nightcap paired Cleo and Sean.

Cleo is an unapologetically raging angerball of ambition, and both she and Sean share user qualities. They take pride in playing the system. They manipulate people to get what they want. And while O'Reilly portrayed this as necessity--and the fact they both do it so well as being admirable--I couldn't entirely get behind people who seemed so damn hard. Sean's relationship with his brothers and Cleo's devotion to her mother made them human, and their pairing made perfect sense, but I got the impression that being around them or living in their skins would take more energy than I can muster. They are positively frenetic. I think this demonstrates O'Reilly's skill, in that they're truly different characters from Daniel and Catherine.

But just as with the high mountain culture in Simple Jess, the differences were difficult to bridge. Nightcap successfully and convincingly portrays a lifestyle very different from my own, but because I couldn't relate as intimately with the hero and heroine's personalities, the love story didn't resonate as deeply for me. I found Cleo and Sean entertaining, but I didn't like them quite enough to root wholeheartedly for their happy ending.

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