Kathleen O'Reilly
May 2008, Series Romance
Harl Blaze #192, $4.99, 224 pages, Amazon ASIN 0373793987
Part of a series

Grade: B
Sensuality: Burning

Nightcap ends Kathleen O'Reilly's trilogy about three brothers generally centered around the family bar in New York City. Sean OíSullivan is the middle child and as a lawyer, has the sharpest and most clever tongue. Heís also the playboy of the three, loved by women throughout New York and returning that love.

Sean forces a meeting with Cleo Hollings, one of the Cityís Deputy Mayors and a real ball-buster. Sean needs to unravel the red-tape and road blocks unfairly hampering productivity of the bar and though Cleo isnít the best person to get the job done, he chooses her on the basis of her picture. As Sean himself says, Cleo is "smoking." Hot. So, in a manner that is indicative of the way Sean goes about life, he decides to combine business with pleasure.

Even though Cleoís sexual frustration recently began to manifest itself in the way of a dream lover - and Sean is surely easy on the eyes - she didnít rise to her position by thinking with her chichis, and she holds off the pleasure portion of Seanís plan to focus on the business. Not for long of course, this is a Blaze. And so, weíre introduced to an intelligent, successful thirty-something woman who embraces her sexuality but isnít led by it.

I havenít read the first two installments to the OíSullivan series, but the book stands well on its own. We read about the previous two couples without being bogged down by them. Iím sure fans of the first couple, Gabe and Teresa, will enjoy the little chink of time spent on the continuation of their romance.

Sean and Cleo have some great conversations, to be expected of a lawyer and a politician, and the word play is at its most sublime when work-related. I particularly enjoyed the voice mail messages they left each other. The best part of this book for me is that the author puts their careers front and center in their lives. Yes, they have family concerns, and with respect to Sean, social demands, but these people actually work. Innumerable is the amount of contemporary romances Iíve read where the billionaire CEO or the successful small-business owner treat their work as an after-thought. Sean and Cleo enjoy time together in five or thirty minute intervals. Though a bit extreme, it's also understandable and realistic given the nature of their jobs.

What worked less well for me was the book's timeline. The twosome fall in love in three weeks, during which they enjoy irregular bouts of those aforementioned 30-minute intervals. In a goodly portion of those 30-minute intervals, ainít no talking going on. This is why Iím not a real fan of category romances. With a more generous word count, Iím certain I'd have enjoyed the book even more, but as it is, when sometime during week one, Sean thinks: "She was the strongest woman heíd ever met. It was why he loved her. It was why he didnít want her on her knees. He wanted her by his side...", Iím torn between praising his explicitly egalitarian love and questioning that love. Equally troubling for me Cleo's referencing, after just a week, their whatever-you-want-to-call-it as an "affair."

Another difficult moment for me in the book comes late, and is unrelated to the romance. Cleo all but threatens the mayor in front of God and country after a very public speech and though emotionally I wanted the best for Sean and his family bar, I canít help but think that Michael Bloomberg wouldnít take that sort of crap from a deputy.

Nightcap features hot people, hot sex, and hot dialogue. But the Blaze wordcount limited my ability to accept Sean and Cleo's three week leap from being total strangers to life-long partners in love. Even so, there was much to enjoy in O'Reilly's latest, and because I enjoy her voice, I'm very interested in reading the first two books of the trilogy.

-- Abi Bishop

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