Her Favorite Rival by Sarah Mayberry
Series: Mathews Sisters #2
Published by Harlequin
Publication Date: September 1st 2013
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A new meaning for office politics
Audrey Mathews has worked hard to get here. Now she's up for a promotion and nothing will stand in her way—including Zach Black. He's hot, smart and the competition. When they're assigned to the same project, she's shocked at how much she actually likes about him…and how much she misjudged him.
Before long Audrey is seriously falling for Zach—and indulging in an affair that's against company policy. And the stakes rise when it's clear only one of them can get ahead. So where do they draw the line between competition and love? Especially when she doesn't want to lose either the promotion or the guy….
I almost always hate Mayberry’s characters before I love them. They’re often presumptuous, rude, judgmental, standoffish, or some combination thereof. But I know if I stick with the story long enough they’ll be redeemed. That was definitely the case here.
Audrey has a very competitive relationship with Zach Black, one of the newer men in her department. She wants to advance in her career and she seems him as a real threat to her ability to do that. The fact that she finds him sexy doesn’t really play into it…until they’re forced to work together on a project. When she thought he was a spoiled trust fund guy, he was easy to resist. But as she comes to know the real Zach, she finds he’s a temptation she doesn’t really want to stay away from.
Zach has had his eye on Audrey for quite some time. The only reason he hasn’t acted on his feelings is because he knows better than to mix business and pleasure. Dating a co-worker – especially one so close to his own position – is a recipe for disaster and not worth putting his job in jeopardy. When Audrey reveals her wrong assumptions about him, he knows he should leave it at that. The more distance between them, the better. Too bad he can’t let it go. He wants her to understand he’s a self-made man, not just a flighty playboy.
But when Zach inadvertently hurts Audrey’s career, she isn’t sure she can forgive him. And Zach isn’t sure he can share all of himself with her, anyway. His past is his past, not something he wants to bring into the present. Except it isn’t something he can really get away from.
I have a confession to make: I love when novels start out with conflict or competition between the main characters. There’s something about watching both of them make assumptions and hang on to their pride, only to be brought low by love that gets me every time. As I said above, this is something Mayberry excels at. I’m never left unsatisfied when I read one of her books.
I enjoyed both Audrey and Zach. She never felt like she fit in with her family, which caused her to act out in her teens. A few years of bad behavior sealed her fate as the black sheep of the family, though she’s spent years trying to undo the damage she caused. He’s been taking care of his mother for a long time, and it’s a losing battle as she doesn’t necessarily want to get better. That they were able to lean on each other for emotional support really created a strong bond between them, even though they didn’t realize at first they were lending emotional support to the other.
I liked that Zach continued to try to fix things when he made a mistake with Audrey. Just as I liked that Audrey made the choice to fight for Zach when he tried to push her away.
Another strong, emotionally charged novel from Mayberry. She has the ability to draw me into her stories and make me experience what her characters are experiencing. I enjoyed both the romance between – and the personal struggles of – the main characters.
4.25 out of 5