Title: Between the CEO’s Sheets
Author: Charlene Sands
Publisher: Silhouette Romance
Publishing Date: June 2007, #1805 in the Silhouette Desire line
Back Cover Tag: Boardroom, Bedroom…or Both?

This one has been hanging around the TBR pile for a while, and it was honestly the first category I picked up after accepting the challenge. If truth be told, I picked up the cat to see what he’d flopped on, discovered he’d knocked some books down and there it was.

I used to read a tremendous number of categories, but that’s decreased in recent years and a big reason is the lower page count. In a short story/novella, you have to stay closely focused on your main characters due to the low word count; in a full length book, you have room to develop more complicated themes. The length of this book seems neither fish nor fowl, because there are some tantalizing hints at deeper issues and character backgrounds, yet there really isn’t room to explore it. The other problem seems a common one with categories: I couldn’t shake the feeling I’d come in on the middle chapter. This wasn’t a branded theme book, but the hero, Wade Beaumont has a brother, and there are various other characters who are mentioned or appear, that feel as if they have their own story. (This isn’t just in cateogries; there are some historicals that when I see the hero has five brothers, seven cousins, and three sisters, I know the author’s going for a series and back away quickly.)

The basics: Gina Grady finds herself in a bind, needs a job that will pay decently, so appeals to her childhood friend Sam Beaumont for a job with Triple B, the family business. Only, it’s not Sam but his younger brother Wade she has to deal with, whom she slept with nine years before, only to leave the next day when she learned another girl was claiming he was the father of her baby. Wade hires her because he wants to find out what happened nine years ago and he still wants her, even if he keeps telling himself it’s just lust. Stuff happens, there is another misunderstanding, the misunderstandings are resolved (including the ones from nine years ago), and we fade out.

If the above makes it sound like I didn’t enjoy the book or was bored, you’d be wrong. I did enjoy the book — or most of it, anyway. The pacing is excellent and the writing is crisp. Plus, much of the action takes place on Catalina, which means that while Gina and Wade aren’t exactly in a locked room, they’re within close confines because Avalon, the island’s only incorporated city, isn’t that big. (The entire island has a permanent population of under 5,000.) They can’t get away from one another easily. But it’s also a story that would have been better served by either a longer word count (expanding the back story, a filled out denouement of the whole thing with the girl who told Gina Wade was the father of her baby), or a shorter one (dropping a few elements, such as Wade seeing Gina with a competitor and misunderstanding the situation). I’m going to dig around the massive TBR bin where the categories live and see if I have anything else by Charlene Sands, but I’m not certain I’m ready to go diving back into categories big time at this point.