Ginger Cameron is a PR professional with a habit of falling for every handsome face she sees, but she's finally had her fill of the love-em-and-leave-em kind of guys. She's sworn off sex and decided to give herself a makeover to match her new serious attitude about dating. But she didn't count on the gorgeous theater owner, who's looking to hire someone to promote his new business, getting under her skin or his aversion to her updated look getting in the way of her work.
Former actor Cal Beaumann needs someone to help make his theater a success so that he can earn enough money to pay off his brother's interest in the business. When Ginger show up in his office, she looks more like a dowdy spinster than someone who can pull of an edgy ad campaign. On the advice of a friend, though, he decides to take a chance on her despite his misgivings. Working in close proximity makes him start wondering exactly what she's hiding under her shapeless, boring attire and determined to find out.
"Pure Ginger" is a short, stand-alone novella about a former soap opera star who's about to open an edgy, new, art-house-style theater in a smallish city. He needs a PR specialist to handle the advertising for the grand opening, but the local woman his assistant finds looks more like a nun than someone who can properly promote his new venture. However, he finds himself strangely attracted to her anyway. As it turns out she's taking a hiatus from men after a string of relationship fails and has given herself a "make-under" in an effort to say that she's unavailable, but this new guy sets her on fire from day one and keeps looking better and better all the time.
Ginger is a PR specialist who has a habit of falling for handsome men who turn out to be jerks, so she's decided to completely remake herself. She's sworn off sex for two years, and in an effort to not send the wrong message, she's adopted a very conservative new wardrobe. However, she didn't expect it to cause her to almost lose a prospective client. Ginger is a smart, feisty, spirited woman, and I had to give her some respect for trying to change her fortune. Overall, I mostly liked her, but where I started to have issues with her is that she's made a promise to herself not to fall for another handsome face again. Yet she does it anyway with the first hot guy to come along, even though she suspects that he might be like all the others. Although she initially puts up a token resistance to his seduction, she ends up falling for his alpha caveman act pretty quickly. I thought it all made her seem rather lacking in determination and self-control.
Cal is an ex soap star, trying to make a success of his new theater venture, so that he can pay off his greedy brother's interest in the business. When Ginger comes into his office, her nun-like attire leaves him unconvinced that she can pull off the necessary edgy promotion to reach his goal, but at the same time, he finds himself oddly attracted to her. For the first half of the story, I really didn't like Cal much at all. For starters, he judges Ginger's professional abilities based solely on the way she looks and what she's wearing, without ever seeing any of her work, which is pure, unadulterated sexism. When she presses her case, he mostly just finds her annoying, and gives her the cold shoulder until a Hollywood PR friend he calls in to take over the project convinces Cal to give her a chance (I never quite understood why he would do that when he had a potential client on the hook - friend or not - but I thought he was a very decent guy for doing so.) Anyway, once they're working together, Cal starts wondering exactly what's underneath the dowdy clothes. At this point, he turns into a complete jackass in my estimation. Despite Ginger repeatedly saying "No" to his advances, he keeps getting into her personal space, touching and kissing her, and even shows up at her house late one night, flat-out asking for sex. I don't care that she secretly wanted it; he didn't know that and should have backed off until she gave him express permission for such intimacies. And don't even get me started on the way he keeps telling her to do things, rather than asking nicely. Behavior like this might have flown in romance a few decades ago, but in the current #MeToo era, I personally find it completely unacceptable and decidedly unromantic. Cal improved somewhat during the second half of the story and did prove himself to be a good lover, but the damage was already done in my mind, and I just couldn't really get on board with him as a hero.
While I might not have cared for the hero, I do want to give credit where credit is due. My personal objections aside, I did find "Pure Ginger" to be well-written, which made it an easy read that flowed very well. The love scenes were deliciously steamy, too, and if not for the hero's boorish behavior, would have been even more so. Perhaps because of the limited length, the conflict is minimal and it's a little short on the character development, but overall not bad. Readers who are more forgiving of chest-beating alpha males who like to boss the heroine around will probably find this novella very agreeable. In fact, they will probably enjoy the Bad Boys Next Exit anthology in which it's found all the way around, since the first story by Shannon McKenna also has a hero who's cut from the same cloth. As for me, this was my first read by E. C. Sheedy. In fact, before picking up this anthology, I hadn't even heard of her. The writing was strong enough to leave me open to trying something else of hers in the future, but I probably won't be in a big hurry to do so out of concern over whether her other books may have similar heroes
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