WHEN SHE'S BAD
Banks ably portrays a large cast of empathetic characters and develops three romantic threads in her second single-title romance (after Some Girls Do ). The most admirable of these characters is heroine Delilah Montague, a brassy, self-made woman who moved from shampoo girl to executive director at the ritzy Spa DeMay by virtue of her smarts and charm. Her friendship with Howard Bradford, the Texas millionaire who owned the spa, didn't hurt either, but now that her benefactor is dead, she must prove herself to her employees and to Howard's daughter, Lilly. At the same time, she must cope with her attraction to gorgeous attorney Benjamin Huntington II, appease a blackmailer and cope with a baby who's thrust upon her by one of Howard's old acquaintances. When Delilah isn't trading quips with Benjamin—who comes from a wealthy family and is therefore, she thinks, out of her league—she's doling out advice to her assistant, Sara, or clashing with Lilly, who plans to marry Benjamin's brother, Robert. These secondary characters are surprisingly fleshed out, but the intrigue subplot, involving an easily thwarted blackmailer, is flimsy. The romantic conflicts are familiar (wrong-side-of-the-tracks woman meets well-off man; divorcee falls for younger man, etc.), but that won't keep readers from enjoying Banks's zesty, dialogue-driven tale. (Nov.)
Forecast: The book's sassy, red-hot cover image may catch the eye of chick-lit aficionados, but the blurb from Janet Evanovich will turn some browsers into buyers.