White Balance *

White Balance - Ainslie Paton

I am so loving Ainslie Paton's books right now. Her characters are likable, smart, nice, have common sense (mostly), and I believe in their HEAs. Only a few things kept me from rating a solid 4 or 5-stars.


Bailey (Bails) and Aiden (Aid) have an 'almost' encounter two years before they actually meet. She spots him one morning as she is taking photos and senses that he is in a great deal of pain and turmoil and as it happens, he has recently lost his wife in a tragic accident. Bailey is not doing so hot herself as she is just entering the hospital for major back surgery.


Two years later they are both brought on board to a mutual friend's ad agency: Aiden as partner and Bailey as admin assistant/HR staff. Though she actually owns her own business planning launch events, she is currently in a bad spot because her last job ended in disaster and she has lost business because of this.  Aiden is brought in to not only be partner but to clean house as Blake (mutual friend and owner of the agency) realizes that he's lost control of some of his people who are stealing ideas, bullying, and even in one case, assaulting other employees. Though Bailey and Aiden have known of each other, they have never met until now. There is of course, an instant attraction but Aiden believes he is too damaged and that he will never be able to love anyone as much as he loved his wife and so resists and in fact goes to great lengths to make Bailey dislike him. It takes a near tragedy to wake him up to the fact that he could potentially fall in love with Bailey. He continues to resist though, because he still carries tons of guilt for not being with his wife during her accident.  


The sexual tension is through the roof anytime these two are in a room together and they finally give in, thinking this will pretty much be a one night stand, but both determined to get it out of their systems. Bailey, believing that Aiden will never come around to her way of thinking, and love her, leaves. Aiden realizes upon waking, that he cannot live without her (of course) and stages a grand gesture apology that though a trifle corny, ends up being cute mostly because of the involvement of the kids, Codey (Codes) and Jasmine (Jas) that Aiden has been mentoring.


One drawback (to me) was Blake's weird insistence on keeping Bailey in the dark about his extended plans for the company.

His wife, Olivia (Liv) draws to his attention, that Bailey was half-way in love with him when they worked together several years before (they were both single at the time.). He apparently never realized this and when he offers her the job later, he is very awkward with her.

(show spoiler)

Blake's asshattery continues throughout most of the book and he ends up hurting Bailey on multiple occasions when he refuses to share certain, very important things in regard to what is going on in the company. Things that could have helped her do her job much more efficiently and would have in fact, saved her from embarrassing herself on a few occasions.  This is just plain weird to me because she is the appointed HR person for the short-term (her work period is supposed to end after six months as her normal job will be resuming). Almost at the end of the book, one other rather strange event takes place:  

Bailey and Blake decide to kiss to make certain that their ongoing working relationship (she is offered a partnership) will not be affected by the fact that Bailey USED to have a crush on Blake emphasis on USED TO.

(show spoiler)

I personally didn't think this scene added to, and actually detracted quite a bit from the story and could have been left out completely.


In spite of the above, I would have probably given a solid 4 or 5-stars to this book but there were a couple of other issues that had me giving 3 1/2 stars:


A) The overuse of metaphors/similes/hyperbole which can be charming and creative in its way but actually tends to pull me out at awkward moments during the story and, B) the habit of shortening everyone's names to one syllable.


I can almost 100% guarantee that these are not huge deals for most other people and they're not necessarily deal breakers for me but they did lead me to rate lower than I might otherwise. Go figure.


Regardless of this, I think lovers of contemporary romance with a healthy dose of angst will enjoy the hell out of this book.


*Relocated from GR