Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review and excerpt for a New Adult romance form Delancey Stewart. I rather liked her book MEN AND MARTINIS, so I thought I’d try another book. MR. BIG features two disconnected people finding peace, and problems, with one another. Not least of which because one is the CEO of the company the other works for….
About the book:
Once upon a time, I had everything: money, power, a multimillion-dollar company, a loving family. Well, at least I thought I had everything. Then my parents died, and I found out my whole life was based on a lie. That’s pretty much the moment when I went numb. Told the world to f*** off and went on a bender of epic proportion, just to see how far I could fall before I hit rock-bottom.
Now I’m back and all I want in this world is my morning—okay, afternoon—coffee. Then one of my employees has the nerve to call me out for cutting the line at the coffeehouse at the company I own. Sure, I’m a little scruffier than usual, but come on, bitching out the CEO? Not a smart career move. Just who does this smart-mouthed ball-buster think she is? And more important, what do I have to do to get her number?
Holland O’Dell may be uptight, but I wouldn’t mind taking her back to my place and ripping off that business-casual blouse/skirt combo and burying myself in her curves. She pushes my buttons, but at least I’m feeling something. And whatever it is, I won’t stop until I get more.
Advance praise for Mr. Big
“Mr. Big is the kind of smart, sexy delight that every woman deserves to read! [Delancey] Stewart will make you believe in true love in this steamy, heart-wrenching tale.”—USA Today bestselling author Sierra Simone
“With a smart, feisty heroine and hot, tortured hero, Mr. Big has everything I look for in a contemporary romance. Witty, sexy, and full of heart!”—Melanie Harlow, USA Today bestselling author
How about a little taste?
“Where did you come from, Holland?”
“That’s a good question.” I wasn’t trying to dodge, but I didn’t have an answer. Plus, I wasn’t sure he was speaking geographically.
“Were you born and raised in Los Angeles?”
So he was speaking geographically. “Maybe,” I said. “I was raised here. I don’t know where I was born, actually.”
He raised an eyebrow in question.
I took a deep breath. “I was abandoned. They found me in a cardboard box at a hospital in Long Beach when I was a couple weeks old.”
I watched his eyes, waiting for the predictable sorrow, the sympathy most people offered when they heard about my inauspicious beginnings. Hale’s eyes reflected something else, though—they flashed with anger.
“I grew up in foster homes.” I shrugged.
“You were adopted?” He whispered the words, as if he couldn’t believe what he was saying.
I shook my head, a little confused at his reaction. For a moment I wondered if the revelation made him think less of me. It had certainly made me think less of myself for a lot of years. “Nope. Never adopted. Just fostered.” My salad came and I was thankful for the distraction.
Hale watched me intently, a crease between his dark eyes. He seemed about to say something, but then turned his head and stared out at the ocean instead. The sun was flashing on its surface, glittering like cellophane ribbons. I waited for him to ask more questions, but he seemed lost in thought.
We ate in relative silence, me enjoying the sunlight and warmth, and the entire avocado I’d convinced the waitress to bring me. Hale appeared to be focused on something inside his mind, something he didn’t seem apt to share. I decided to push. “What about you?”
His eyes snapped back to mine and then he shook his head, saying nothing.
“Seriously? I share but you don’t?” After spending most of the morning being thoughtful and kind, Mr. Big Dick was back. His face was closed and anger bubbled in his eyes as he turned his focus to his burger. “I see how it is,” I pressed.
He paused, a fry partway to his mouth, and then his hand lowered again, his shoulder slumping. “It’s not that I don’t want to tell you.”
“Okay . . .”
He dropped the fry and leaned back in his chair, a deep sigh escaping his lips. “It’s more that I don’t really know.” He stared down at his plate as he said, “I was adopted, actually. But I’ve only found that out recently.” His voice was cold, almost clinical, like this was a distant fact to be examined, not something integral to who he was.
“And you’re upset?” It was a stupid question. A dark frown had crept over his face and he looked much more like the broody asshole I’d met at Cody Tech than like the almost sweet man who’d been helping me since then. He was clearly upset.
A smile flickered over those incredible lips, but it did nothing to tamp down the sadness in his eyes. “I don’t know. Yes. It’s complicated.”
Without stopping myself this time, I reached for his hand, my own fingers covering the long square tips of his where they rested on the table. He started slightly, as if I’d shocked him, and then relaxed, his thumb reaching around to rub a line across the top of my fingertips. I suppressed the shiver that ran through me. The pain in his eyes had ebbed, and he looked up at me with something that felt a bit like wonder.
Holland O’Dell is an algorithms expert who’s hired in the only suitable position (for a woman) at her dream company Cody Tech: in sales. It’s disheartening, but Holland’s a fighter. She survived three foster homes after being abandoned shortly after birth and has cobbled together a small nucleus of friends that she considers family. She’s also got a great idea for restructuring one of Cody Tech’s earliest device designs, and an in with a contact at Major League Baseball. Id she can refine and sell the product, she might garner enough support to get hired into her dream position in project development.
Oliver “Hale” Cody is a young man adrift. He’d struggled with his posh life for just over a year, and went on an adventure to “find himself” when he thought the need for him at his own company was overblown. Cody Tech was started by his father, and everyone assumed he’d just take the reins once he finished schooling, but Oliver didn’t feel like he’d earned his position as CEO. While on his journey towards himself, Oliver’s parents were killed in a car wreck, and Oliver’s idyll was at an end. The truth of his adoption was revealed by the attorneys of the estate, and Oliver’s reeling from a sense of complete loss. Who was his true family? Not only didn’t he know this big secret about himself, how could he trust his parents’ decisions? His shenanigans and drunken rages have destabilized the company, and caused a major shake-up. While Oliver is mostly too distraught to care, he notices a woman, Holland, working late at the company, and admires how she doesn’t take his crap. Seeing that she’s working on a product he’d developed with his dad, he’s intrigued, and wants to help her fine-tune it.
Through his repeated attempts at connecting with Holland, Oliver learns a lot about himself and his company. He learns about her childhood and feels a kinship for lost familial connections. He learns his company has a long way to go to overcome the ingrained misogyny and sexism. His attraction to Holland is a welcome advent into his broken emotional state, and Holland returns his interest–until she learns he’s the CEO. By then, however, they’ve already gotten physical, and hooked MLB for the project Holland developed and Oliver tweaked.
Then, there’s drama. It’s all really rational and reasonable: Holland not wanting people to believe she climbed the corporate ladder using sex with Oliver, not her creativity and hard work. Oh, and there’s a couple break ups/make ups that cause each of them to really consider the meaning of family, and merit-based rewards, and feminism, and equality. I don’t want to give too much away, but the plot has a few turns I wasn’t expecting. That said, I think I mostly didn’t expect them because they were 99.9% unlikely to happen anywhere in real life, and I’m not an unrealistic person when reading realistic fiction. So, yeah, I kind of rolled my eyes on those things, and kept reading on anyway. The relationship-building between Oliver and Holland is hard work, they are young people for all their career accomplishments: both 26. Yeah, that was unrealistic, too. And, Oliver came off as sullen and spoiled for a good part of the book. Granted, I liked when he was happy, but a lot of the time he felt whiny to me. I liked Holland a lot, and wanted to assure her–like her good friends did–that she didn’t have to be so very independent. It’s really not how the corporate world works, but I could appreciate that level of naivete because of her age.
There’s a happy ending for all, and some steamy bits, too. It’s not a terribly long book, and will likely appeal to people who enjoy romances featuring smart-pants gals and a CEO that’s not too pushy.
About the Author:
Delancey Stewart has lived on both coasts, in big cities and small towns. She’s been a pharmaceutical rep, a personal trainer and a wine seller. Despite lots of other interests, she has always been a writer.
A military spouse and the mother of two small boys, her current job titles include pirate captain, monster hunter, Lego assembler, story reader, and tech writer. She tackles all these efforts from her current home outside Washington DC.
Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!