I’d just like to start by saying I’m sorry, Sarah Mayberry.
She is clearly a master in this genre and it’s taken me all the way until now to pick up any of her material, despite constantly seeing her name. This miniseries consisting of Take On Me, All Over You, and Hot For Him was recently re-released by Harlequin Blaze, presumably to fill in the rest of the time until Blaze is discontinued and replaced by Dare, a hotter more explicit line. (I am trying to keep an open mind about this change, but Blaze is where I’ve turned for years for a quick hot little number, so I am still crying on the inside…)
Despite the fact that this miniseries was published a decade ago, it still felt relevant, hot, full of tension, and expertly crafted to give me the ultimate sitting on the edge of my seat emotional drama and an ultra-satisfying conclusion to each installment. I will undoubtedly be picking up some of Ms. Mayberry’s backlist and devouring them over the coming months…
Needless to say, this miniseries earns a 5/5 from me overall. It’s been a long time since I’ve come across an author I can love and relate to this much, and as an aspiring romance writer myself, this is a lot like striking gold. I am very excited to get down to business studying the masterful way Ms. Mayberry builds riveting sexual tension and delivers stunning emotionally satisfying conclusions. As an added bonus for this miniseries, I even got to see the personality transformations of the characters from their individual stories into their friends love lives after finding their love and inner peace. The only point I could possibly deduct was with Claudia’s story, Hot For Him. It felt just a little rushed. There was perhaps one too many dramatic points to where I felt I was left with a few questions when the story ended. But we’ll get there! On to the book reviews!
The first book to this series is called Take On Me. It follows the story of Dylan Anderson and Sadie Post as they reunite in the workplace after having a strained animosity-filled relationship in high school. This combines two of my favorite story types; enemies to lovers, and past flames. Sadie had a crush on Dylan back then, tried to help him succeed where he struggled, and ended up mortified in front of the whole school by his hand. Dylan never understood that Sadie was trying to help him, and always felt she was trying to point out his flaws. This is what drove him to embarrass her. Obviously they were never able to talk about their feelings at that point, so they left school harboring their negativity.
Flash forward to the present in the story, and you’ll find Sadie freshly left at the altar. She goes on her honeymoon vacation to the Caribbean alone, comes back to her job, the only thing in her life that isn’t in pieces, to find that it has been invaded by her old nemesis Dylan Anderson. And she has to work directly with him as his immediate superior.
Of course they’re on fire for each other immediately…how could they not be? Sadie had a helluva crush on Dylan the boy, and Dylan the man is even more potent. He’s broader, taller, and in command. And Sadie herself is dynamite, too, of course. She has grown and matured, filled out, and gained the respect and adoration of everyone she works with as a story writer for Ocean Boulevard, a well rated daytime soap opera. If Dylan could just see past her curt bitchiness to the woman he hurt…
Every twist and turn of their love affair kept me guessing as we hurdled toward the inevitable Happily Ever After. Sarah Mayberry was able to keep the tension ever present even as the characters got to know each other, rectified their earlier trials, and had tons of hot sex.
Another point worth mentioning here is the sex itself. It’s frequent without getting tired. Ms. Mayberry kept the heat cranked up for the whole story. Take On Me stands tall and proud on its own as a gorgeous taut romance. It also served flawlessly as a springboard for me to get to know the other ladies doomed to fall in love in the coming series installations. Sadie, Grace, and Claudia all worked together on the show, and they had no idea that love was coming for them. 5/5 definitely will read again.
This story was honestly perfect. It’s worthy study material for me; the lowly girl honing her craft. And after finally discovering it, I have been transformed into a loyal fan. Let’s continue on to Grace Wellington’s story, All Over You.
Grace and Mac’s story All Over You was admittedly my favorite of the series. I particularly loved Grace Wellington. She’s a hard-ass take no prisoners feminist with unbelievable vintage style, a quick wit, and emotional walls to rival the Great Wall of China. Grace has ZERO interest in falling in love, and fights against it tooth and nail. This makes it all the more satisfying when she falls super hard for the impossibly gorgeous Mac Harrison, star of Ocean Boulevard with a brain to boot. As a bonus twist, Grace has a HUGE physical crush on Mac Harrison. There were several occasions where she spent time with him while she was alone…if you catch my drift. Wink.
Mac Harrison is bored with his life, and after leaving Ocean Boulevard to get chewed up and spit out by Hollywood, he has resumed his role as Kirk. Only now, he has ambition to get into directing. There needs to be more to his life than being pretty in front of a camera. What’s sexier than ambition?
Grace was Mac’s favorite writer for the show. When she would do episodes, they always shone brighter with her wit and writing charisma. He was excited to meet her. Grace’s abrasive personality took him by surprise, and greatly disappointed him at first. This disappointment quickly transformed into intrigue, however. She makes a point of hitting him with as many condescending jabs as she possibly can. Grace isn’t a man-hater…not quite, anyway. She has been hurt before by lovers and family alike, and it takes her a long time to open up and heal.
Mac is determined to find out what’s twisted Grace up so tight that she can’t relax and fall in love with him. She resists until it’s nearly too late, and figures out facing her demons just in time for romantic vindication. She and Mac get to live Happily Ever After while Grace works to improve her inner peace.
Unfortunately for you, reader, this book was simply too good for me to ruin by giving you concrete details. All I’ll tell you is that it was really worth the read, and just writing this review makes me want to go back and read it again. And I just might. 5/5! Now we just have Hot For Him, Claudia Dostis’ sordid love affair with her hottest rival. Let’s dive in.
Hot For Him was jam-packed with action, perhaps to a fault. This is the final installment in the Secret Lives of Daytime Divas miniseries, and it was also my least favorite. Claudia Dostis is the producer of Ocean Boulevard. She’s an impossibly petite little firecracker of a woman. She’s determined to prove she is every bit as capable as everyone else, and nothing, not even love, is going to stand in her way of kicking ass and taking names.
Claudia has more than a few problems to deal with throughout the story. We start off with her winning an award for Ocean Boulevard on the soap opera equivalent of the Oscar’s. She’s very excited to have beaten Heartlands, Leandro Mandalor’s soap.
Leandro Mandalor is the producer of Heartlands, the closest rival soap to Ocean Boulevard. In the past, Leandro has been sneaky and cutthroat. Claudia doesn’t trust him whatsoever, and really dislikes her attraction to him as he congratulates her on winning the award fair and square.
Talking about my gripes with this story without giving too much away will be tricky, so bear with me. The first problem Claudia has to deal with involves cast from her show and cast from Leandro’s show getting themselves into a sticky predicament. Dealing with this involves spending more time with Leandro than Claudia would prefer, but things heat up pretty quickly. They have stupendous sex from which Claudia quickly withdraws. She doesn’t want to jeopardize the safety of Ocean Boulevard, and who could blame her? She just had sex with her rival.
Leandro worms his way into her good graces; he simply cannot stop himself from thinking about her despite his want for a wife and kids. They form an impromptu relationship where Claudia is constantly guarded and Leandro is constantly pushing. This is where some of the other problems arise. Meanwhile, we have completely and totally dropped the original issue.
We discover that Leandro has a wonderful close supportive family and Claudia has an estranged non-relationship with her parents. This causes serious friction. I felt implored to stand with Claudia as Leandro continued to push her when she began to break. This is where my main issue with the story lay. Leandro was a wonderful man, but he would not allow Claudia to open up to him at her own pace. He became unreasonable with her dealing with big issues regarding her family.
The conclusion of this story didn’t leave me as satisfied as its predecessors, either. Of course Claudia and Leandro get to live Happily Ever After, but I felt as though there were a lot of things left open ended that were poised to be given an answer. For one, Claudia’s family relationships. By the end of the book they are shown as improving, but this lacked detail. Additionally, the original issue was brought back suddenly, then solved rather anti-climactically. The suspense in this book was sordid, and I would find myself skimming a little bit, trying to get back to something that would hold my interest.
As the conclusion to it’s own story, it was fairly disappointing, but as the end of the miniseries it felt a lot more satisfying. This book wouldn’t stand well alone, but works great with the two that come before it. On it’s own I’d give it a 3/5, but as the end of the series it earns a 5/5. It leaves me as the reader feeling happy that all the women I grew to adore throughout these books found the love they each needed to have to bring their lives up to the next level. Everyone moves forward together.
Sarah Mayberry is a star, and she is clearly capable of writing for several audiences. I am looking forward to digging into her repertoire of published works and soaking up everything I possibly can. Thank you so much, Sarah!