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Heidi Hart

By day, I'm a domestic violence prosecutor. By night, I read romance to restore my faith in love, relationships, and humanity in general. 

Really Class Conscious, Judgmental Heroine (but she's got a great rack)

Lead Me On - Victoria Dahl

Lead Me On centers on the troubles of Jane Morgan, who is Quinn's prim-and-proper office manager. Like Start Me Up (book 2 in the same series), it deals with class differences, but it is not as good at avoiding offensive stereotypes. I found Jane Morgan to be an unpleasant character because she is so very class conscious and judgmental. (Ms. Dahl seems to know that Jane's mindset is unpopular, because the character is always acknowledging her snobbery but forging ahead anyway, even when other characters point out how very misguided she is.) In childhood, Jane's mother was a "prison groupie," marrying one prisoner after another; Jane is the product of a conjugal visit. She spent her childhood writing letters to her incarcerated father, but when he disappeared after his release from jail, Jane (then named Dynasty Mackenzie) went a little wild at the tender age of twelve. She took up drinking, drugs, and promiscuous sex with many, many men (some twice her age), but by adulthood she has turned her life around: she has a new, respectable name, a new, respectable job, a new, respectable life, and she is confident that no one from her past would recognize her.

 

Unfortunately, Jane finds that she isn't attracted to respectable men, so after dumping her assistant D.A.-boyfriend, she initiates an affair with Billy Chase (just "Chase"), who she believes is just a construction worker who "likes to blow stuff up," but who the reader knows is actually the owner of his own excavation company and the go-to expert for tough and intricate excavation work ("Chase could blow out a wall of rock fifty feet wide and leave the hundred-year-old barn that stood two feet away without even the slightest creak of boards."). Jane propositions him for a one time hookup, a birthday gift to herself, and he accepts because, well, he's a guy, and she's a D cup. Yet when her brother is arrested and comes under suspicion for murder, Jane suddenly finds that she needs Chase: his father is a former state police officer who is willing to investigate the case for the defense.

 

Chase is a really relatable hero, but it's hard to see why he's willing to put up with Jane's snobbishness (except for the aforementioned D cup). He drives a dusty pickup and has tattoos, so it doesn't even occur to Jane that Chase is not just a peon at his company, but the boss. Because he doesn't display books in his apartment, she assumes he's uneducated, though he's got a degree in geology and is an expert in his field. She tells him with a brutal lack of subtlety that he's good enough for sex, but not good enough to be a partner in her carefully crafted life, and for the first three quarters of the book he just shrugs complacently, as if he didn't already know about her turbo-slut adolescence. (He does, but Jane doesn't know he knows.) Jane ultimately learns the error of her ways and acknowledges her hypocrisy, but I think I'd have had more respect for Chase if he hadn't waited around for her to do it.