by Susan Mallery

May 2009
ISBN: 978-0-373-77347-3
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Mass Market Paperback

Lexi Titan is in desperate need of two million dollars. The loan on her business, Venus Envy, a chain of day spas she created, is being called and if it is not paid off, she will lose her business. Lexi does not understand why her investor is pulling the rug out from under her, but she is going to find out.

Enter one Cruz Rodriguez. He is willing to give the money to Lexi as long as she pretends to be engaged to him for six months and introduces him to the high-society of Texas he longs to be part of.

Lexi reluctantly agrees. She has no other choice, not if she does not want to go to her powerful businessman father, Jed Titan, and ask for the money. If she does that, she will lose all chance of ever inheriting Titan World. Her father has pitted her against her two sisters and as much as she loves her sisters, Lexi wants to earn her father’s love and his empire. Too bad she has a history with Cruz that makes it difficult for her to keep her cool when he is around.

Cruz and Lexi agree their “relationship” is strictly business. But Lexi is sharing Cruz’s home, and his bed. How is she going to salvage her heart and her pride if she falls in love with Cruz while he keeps his emotions firmly detached?

Under Her Skin has its high points and its low points. And sometimes it is just plain confusing. There is no doubt that Cruz and Lexi have chemistry. But it is hard to reconcile the hard-nosed businessman Cruz supposedly is with a man unable to make the connections he wants, regardless of his less than wealthy upbringing. And then there is the fact that he so casually ignored his own child for fifteen years. It just smacked of a man with a small heart. Even up to the very end of this story he was refusing to believe in love. It was tiresome.

Lexi is also an interesting character. She craves her father’s respect and love and is willing to compete against her sisters for it. She tries to keep an emotional distance from Cruz but also realizes she is failing at that. Her ultimatum was right on target and I thought a good resolution of the various feelings she went through during the course of the story.

I am also anxious to find out more about the man determined to see the Titan family fall.

Under Her Skin has the great family dynamic one has come to expect from a Susan Mallery story. The romance is a bit topsy-turvy and not all that satisfying. It ends on a high note but the road to the resolution felt a bit too insincere and cruel at times for this reader. Nonetheless, I am still anticipating the next book in the series. Susan Mallery hooks me in, time and time again.

Reviewed in April 2009 by Sarah.

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