Just Curious by Jude Devereaux is a novel I found that I thought would be appropriate for Christmas Day. No crime, no horror, no “bad” words, and an interesting story with a truly surprising ending makes this an almost perfect review post for Christmas day. There is just a little bit of sex but it is tastefully done and appropriate to the story. It is very definitely written for women, but, hey, a guy can enjoy a well-written story no matter the original target audience.
Karen works in the office of McAllister Taggert, ostensibly as a secretary. But Karen has a secret. She sees herself as an industrial spy. By volunteering to help everyone, work longer hours, and listen to others rather than speak, she intends to become a chief competitor of Taggert when she opens her own business. Before husband Ray died, she and Ray had worked in a failing enterprise and turned it around. If Ray had not died so early, Karen and Ray might have taken the business over. After Ray’s death, the only way she could keep her financial interest in the business was to sleep with the remaining partner. Karen decided to start a new business was preferable. Taggert enterprises would be her training ground.
Ray was Karen’s true love. It had been two years since his death and she had no interest in finding a replacement. With the biological clock ticking, Karen did want at least one child. She was not interested in getting married. There was a clinic she had visited; she had seen a catalog from which she could pick desirable genetic characteristics.
In the meantime, she is working for Taggert, an unmarried attractive person except for his personality. It seems he almost has a hobby of getting engaged and breaking the engagements days before the weddings. He surrounds himself with a staff of beautiful women, many of whom have sinecures for jobs. Taggert has a reputation as a narcissist and borderline misogynist. And he has a problem. He was invited to a wedding where he would be one of the groom’s attendants. He has to attend the wedding and knows that a former fiance will be there. He cannot show up without an escort. He offers employment to Karen to act as an escort (non-sexual).
She accepts; the two go to the Taggert family mansion where the entire rather extended family is present for the wedding. There is only one bedroom for the two of them. See where this is going?
The story after this could get dull. It does not. Devereaux keeps the reader’s attention throughout the rest of the novella. The dialogue is interesting, the pace is fast, the characters have more development than I would expect in such a short work. I will use some of her work in my English as a Second Language classes.