Even as he’s sneaking onto the Barkeley estate, Jed Waters knows better. This is no way for the vice president of Atlantic Developers to behave. He may remember the secret path through the hedge maze . . . he may be able to outrun the dogs nipping at his heels . . . but he never counted on being greeted by Rachel Barkeley herself. Once they were childhood friends. Now Rachel is the exotic stunner in a Shaker sweater—and the owner of the property that Jed’s company is so desperate to turn into condos.
Seeing Jed after all these years fills Rachel with a kind of delicious fear. The gardener’s son is all grown up, looking like he stepped out of a teenage fantasy. It’s not Rachel’s fault her eccentric uncle reneged on his deal with Jed, gifted her with the estate, and retired to a monastery in Nepal. If only Jed spent some quality time at the Barkeley house, he would fall in love with it and see Rachel’s side of the story . . . which is why she kidnaps him and stashes him in the trophy room. But her gorgeous prisoner has captured something more valuable than any mansion: Rachel’s heart.
For Jed Waters, acquiring the perfect property for the right price is critical to career survival. For years the job has been easy, negotiate the best possible price for his boss and the company, deal with virtual strangers and, don’t feel too bad about it all if the seller gets the short end of the deal. Business is business after all and being vice president of a major property development firm often requires less than stellar behavior. Which is why, on a bright sunny afternoon, Jed Waters finds himself trespassing on the grounds of a two million dollar estate.
Rachel Barkeley has spent the vast majority of her life on the grounds of her eccentric uncle’s estate. Though she now has a fabulous apartment in New York and is a successful stock broker she has always called the old estate home. Some of Rachel’s fondest memories occurred on the grounds of the estate under the watchful of eye of her beloved Uncle Merry. Until recently, life was completely normal and then odd Uncle Merry decided to deed the estate to Rachel and “retire” to a monastery in Nepal. Though she cannot begin to understand her uncle’s actions, Rachel is delighted to be the new owner of the old estate. Did I fail to mention the estate comes complete with a butler? Burrows is his name and serving is his game.
All is basically right with the world with the exception of one small, tiny, nearly insignificant detail: Uncle Merry promised Jed Water’s property development company they could have the land and the estate before his “retirement” to Nepal. Papers were signed, money exchanged hands and then Uncle Merry changed his mind and has left his darling niece to deal with the fallout. That fallout includes Jed Water’s, a man Rachel has not seen in many, many years. To the dismay of both, Uncle Merry has put Rachel and Jed in a terrible position: Rachel refuses to turn over the property and Jed refuses her refusal. The only obvious solution to the problem? Rachel should totally kidnap Jed and force him to live at the estate until he falls in love with it and stops trying to take it from her. How did you not see that coming?
What I liked: Jed, Burrows, and the two Danes, Samson and Delilah. Jed is a sweet guy from a humble and hardworking family who has really made something of himself and his life. He is sincere in his affection toward Rachel and utterly convinced he can find a satisfactory resolution to the current problem. Oh, and he doesn’t mind having been kidnapped. Burrows is, hands down the best character in this read! If you’re going to have a butler, have a Burrows. He is witty, intelligent, quite observant and utterly faithful to the Barkeley’s. His observations are astute, his advice well-reasoned and sound and, his actions are often surprisingly funny. I so need a Burrows J And then, there are the Danes, Samson and Delilah; these two great beasts have wonderful personalities that left me laughing out loud on more than one occasion.
What I didn’t like: Rachel and the extreme quirkiness of the plot. Rachel is a very hard sell for me: on one hand she is intelligent, successful and determined yet on the other hand she is unsure, slightly insecure and somewhat fickle. I found it hard to reconcile these two very different personalities in one character which made it virtually impossible to connect with Rachel and root for her. As for the plot? I am all for a little quirkiness in life; everybody needs some quirkiness but this plot had a little too much for me. As I came to the end of the read and everything began to unfold and be explained I found myself thinking, “This is far, far too crazy, even for fiction.” And that is all I can say in order to avoid spoilers L
The Bottom Line: Double Dealing was just OK for me. It is a short read that has some really fun and endearing characters and some not so endearing characters. There are some funny moments (the kitchen with Jed and the Danes for example) but those moments are too few and far between to really salvage the overall read for me. Add to this the extreme quirkiness of the plot and you get a mere 3½ stars.