ms_bravo_and_the_bossMiss Bates is looking at a very busy few weeks, so her reviews will be especially “mini” and impressionistic. She restlessly DNF-ed several titles … too trite, too much tell, *shudder* insta-lust … before settling on Christine Rimmer’s Ms. Bravo and the Boss, an author she enjoyed with her first foray into the Bravo-Word, a series whose novels run in the double-digits!

Ms. Bravo and the Boss tells of the meet-near-fail, burgeoning sympathy, eventual courtship, betrayal, and reconciliation of two likeable characters, the eponymous “Ms”, Elise Bravo, and reclusive Justice Creek, Colorado-resident thriller writer, Jed Walsh. When the novel opens, Elise’s life is a shambles: her business burnt to the ground, her best friend off to Seattle, her relationship with her family a tad estranged, working two menial jobs (on the humiliating generosity of two Bravo sisters), living above a donut shop, eating too many of the sweet-rounds and not quite fitting into her clothes. Jed too is in a pickle: he has trouble keeping an assistant and is working on a tight deadline. Jed needs to find the right person to help him with his “process”: dictating his novels to a silent, fast typist while he either throws knives, or cleans guns. His gruff ways and beastly temper chased every assistant away. Since his grandmotherly typist, Anna, left to live with her grandchildren, he’s blocked. Until Nell, Elise’s sister, suggests that Elise take the job.  

Elise hates the idea of typing for hours, but the generous pay, if she survives Jed’s temper, will help pay off debts and restart her defunct catering business. Elise and Jed’s initial meeting is sheer fun: Jed growls, commands, and tests Elise to the nth degree. She remains cool, composed, not defiant but not subservient, and keeps up with his dictating pace while not batting an eye when he tosses knives. It looks like Jed, with Elise’s wunder-typing, may make his publisher’s deadline. If Elise moves in and works the 12-hour days he requires. Elise agrees, seeing an opportunity to sock away his generous terms, on the condition that she bring her cat, Mr. Wiggles, otherwise affectionately known as “Wigs”. Fluffy Mr. Wiggles, aka “The Furball” to Jed, provides an infinite source of reader amusement, as do the grumpy Jed and cheerful Elise.

Miss B. greatly enjoyed the first half of Ms. Bravo and the Boss and its beauty-and-beast feel. Jed is just the right kind of clueless-about-feelings grumpy curmudgeon who nevertheless has a heart of gold. (His finest moment comes when he commissions a “catio” for Wigs.) And Elise, though à-la-Bridget-Jones messed-up, stands up to his every growl with sang-froid and wry humour. The “process” and shared meals lead Jed and Elise to a pretty nice friendship; their scorching attraction, to the courtship bed.

Rimmer writes about her characters, feline and human, with humour and affection. Ms. Bravo and the Boss is entertaining and heartfelt, a great prose-marriage for a romance novel. Miss Bates’s quibble came in the novel’s second half. Rimmer was weaker on showing her characters’ internal changes. Jed goes from clueless to Mr. Sensitivity and Elise from Bridget Jones to Pollyanna without sufficient development. And Rimmer’s Jed and Elise suffer from that pernicious romance-illness where everything would be fine if they would talk about what they’re thinking and wanting. All is somewhat redeemed with Jed’s returning-to-type betrayal, but the narrative damage was done for Miss B. Despite her curmudgeonly reviewer’s grouse, she’d recommend Ms. Bravo and the Boss for its humour, adept dialogue, charming Wigs, and feminist HEA terms. With Miss Austen, Miss B. would say that Christine Rimmer’s Ms. Bravo and the Boss shows us “a mind lively and at ease,” Emma.

Christine Rimmer’s Ms. Bravo and the Boss is published by Harlequin Books. It was released in September 2016 and is available at your preferred vendors. Miss Bates received an e-ARC from Harlequin, via Netgalley.