Hannah Bridges has worked hard to get where she is. As a woman in charge of a construction company, she feels like she has to prove herself on a daily basis. She's working on a tight deadline to bring in multiple projects or her crusty old grandfather who owns the company will take it away from her, so she doesn't need the distraction of sexy architect, Whit Thomas.
Whit has had a thing for Hannah ever since he saw her picture at her cousin's house, but she'll barely give him the time of day. In fact, her sharp tongue seems to indicate that she hates him. Not one to be deterred and sensing that if he could just get her alone for a while, she might soften up, Whit comes up with a plan. Having recently discovered a secret pleasure room in the basement of his late uncle's old historic home that Hannah is refurbishing, he conspires to get her down there and "accidentally" lock them in for the weekend. Everything is going according to plan until his clueless brother and her cousin show up. When Hannah learns the truth about his intentions, she's beyond angry with him. Can Whit ever get her to listen and make it up to her, so that they can stop being enemies and start being hot, wild lovers again?
Hardhats and Silk Stockings is the first novella in HelenKay Dimon's House Rehab Men series. It's the story of architect, Whit Thomas, who has been hot for Hannah Bridges, the lead contractor working on refurbishing a historical family home of which he is part owner. She doesn't even seem to like him, usually either ignoring him or throwing barbs his way, but he suspects that if he can just get her alone for a while, she'll sing a different tune. That's why he conspires to lock them in his late uncle's secret sex dungeon for the weekend.
Out of the two main characters, Hannah is the best developed. She's pretty much alone in the world, except perhaps for her cousin, Cole, who seems to look out for her. She also has a grandfather, but he's a hard-ass, who doesn't show her any affection. He gave her the construction company to run, but also set her up to fail by giving her more jobs than any reasonable person could complete in the time frame allotted. If she doesn't deliver, then she loses the company. Hannah is determined not to give up though, and is working her butt off to prove herself in a man's world. She also struggled through school and doesn't consider herself to be very smart, which is partly why blue collar work appealed to her. It gave her someplace where she felt she could belong. She's attracted to Whit, but because of her background, she's not very amenable to being involved with a guy who's both intelligent and rich. As a result, she's extremely prickly and stand-offish toward him for most of the story, even after they've had sex. Granted he did kind of trick her, and I understood where she was coming from, but she wouldn't even give him a chance to explain for quite some time. Even after they talk a little and even after she realizes that he's trying to help her bring in her jobs on time, she still gives him the cold shoulder, until an eleventh-hour turnaround at the very end of the story. I really felt like she should have given him the benefit of the doubt, especially after she found out how he was helping her, but she remains skeptical of his motives until his brother, Adam, intervenes.
I don't feel like I got to know Whit as well. He's apparently a talented architect and owner of historical properties. He's also had a thing for Hannah for quite a while, ever since seeing her picture at his friend and her cousin, Cole's house. He cajoled Cole into telling him all about her. Since she won't give him the time of day, he essentially tricks her into coming down with him to the secret sex dungeon that he'd accidentally found but that she didn't know about yet. I had mixed feelings about this. I could feel a connection between them while they were locked in the room together, which made me a little more forgiving of Whit's trickery. However, when Adam and Cole show up, their conversation makes it seem like Whit's intentions weren't so good after all, like he just lured her down there to have sex and only changed his mind and truly started caring for her after Hannah opened up to him a bit. I'll admit that maybe I'm misreading the situation, and Whit's generosity in helping Hannah meet her deadlines afterward did show that he had feelings for her.
I also have somewhat mixed feelings about the way in which the story progressed. The first few chapters, while Whit and Hannah are locked in the secret pleasure room, really drew me in. Hannah telling Whit about her life was touching, and their sex play was hot and steamy with a little fun handcuff action. However, my anticipation of them being locked in together for an entire weekend with lots of intriguing sex toys at their disposal, was dashed when Adam and Cole showed up unexpectedly. I suppose there was some humor in the situation, but after that, the story was too much talk and not enough action for my taste. There was also a bit too much arguing between Whit and Hannah, because of Hannah being upset over Whit's subterfuge. Later another almost love scene is interrupted by Adam again. I found this all rather frustrating, and wishing that Whit and Hannah would have stayed trapped in the basement for as long as Whit had originally intended. I think it would have given them more time to explore their feelings for one another and to build their romance, as well as some added opportunities for more love scenes. As is, there's only the one, and while it was pretty good overall, I felt like there could have been more. They also go from Hannah being angry with Whit for days on end to her embracing the idea of being with him and then declaring her love, which was perhaps a little too quick to be entirely believable. Still, Hardhats and Silk Stockings was reasonably entertaining, which is why I gave it four stars. It was my first read by HelenKay Dimon, but I'd be open to reading more from her. The House Rehab Men series continues with novellas for both Cole and Adam, both of which can be found in the anthology Hard As Nails. Hardhats and Silk Stockings can be found in the anthology When Good Things Happen to Bad Boys.
The Hope Chest Reviews on Facebook