The Castle Calder series remains solid with the Enemies to Lovers/Forbidden Fruit Boss third installment “A Brit Complicated”. Scarlett’s a little slow to warm up to as she’s a bit cranky and plenty judgy at the book’s beginning. Since the story is told from Scarlett’s Point of View, Bradley, our Hero appears stiff and expresses himself rather harshly. As the book progresses and the couple spends more time together they evolve. Bradley’s a bit of a work-a-holic and doesn’t think about how what he says sounds to others. He isn’t as big a jerk as he sounds. His stiffness is his being unsure as to whether his presence is welcome during office social-times since he’s the boss. Scarlett admits to being judgmental and also concedes when she’s wrong. This couple definitely brings out the best in each other. The Romance and Characters sparkle in this novel.
Scartlett St. Julien is working for an interior design house in London however the company itself is an American one. The owner Bradley Waring-Smith is not only a New Yorker but in Scarlett’s opinion a “wanker”. She’s not afraid to say it. In fact it seems she will tell, and has told everyone who’ll listen that her boss is a tyrannical “tosser”. One of Scarlett’s office friends, Tom, is an American. He not only came to London with Bradley but considers him a friend. Tom knows Scarlett doesn’t like Bradley and encourages her to give him a chance. Tom is also in love with Scarlett’s roommate Tara who also works at WS. Scarlett is more of an artist but chose interior design because it’s more pragmatic. She’s ambitious and enjoys what she does but feels a bit like a “sell-out”.
One evening after work everyone is meeting at a protest march on Downing Street. The PM has said some racially divisive things. Tom’s African American and Tara’s of Middle Eastern descent. Scarlett is going as a favor and, at first, doesn’t feel anything for the cause. Tara and Tom give examples of how their race effects their lives when traveling and so forth. Being white and British Scarlett’s relatively oblivious to the cause and begins feeling quite shallow upon hearing her friends’ stories. They’re also meeting her best friend Bea and her boyfriend who’s a famous Hollywood actor. Scarlett gets separated from the group when the crowd starts to move. She’s quite surprised to run into Bradley. Scarlett’s even more surprised by the passion Bradley exhibits at the protest. Apparently his mother is Pakistani. Even though she thinks he’s a jerk she can’t deny that he’s an extremely sexy guy.
When she catches up with her friends at a pub Bradley goes as well. They end up talking and Scarlett tells Bradley he needs to get around London and beyond more. Get to know the country. He asks if she’s going to be his guide. Scarlett is rather confounded since this version of Bradley is much more friendly and slightly flirtier that “Work Bradley”. Somehow she gets persuaded to show Bradley the “real” London. Scarlett goes through “next-day-panic-second-thoughts” quite a bit. Therefore Scarlett creates a list of places-to-go and things-to-do for Bradley to do on his own. However Bradley won’t have that she promised the “Londoner experience” and that’s what he wants. Upon looking at Scarlett’s list Bradley believes they can fit an “outing” in after they visit the new office site. Scarlett informs Bradley he can’t just breeze through he has to give his all to these experiences.
So far everything is still “friendly” but because she still suspects he’s a jerk, and her boss, things feel awkward. However after going to the worksite and the market there was a charged energy between Scarlett and Bradley. For the next outing Scarlett suggests The World’s Largest Tea Party in a park. Some flirting goes and Scarlett is seeing the Bradley isn’t the ogre she thought. Bradley said he has a personal policy against dating employees. Plus the company, as a whole, frowns on in-house fraternization. However, upon discussing it Scarlett and Bradley concede that a casual-sex-only arrangement is mutually interesting. They leave the event and head to Bradley’s apartment. The couple end up spending the entire day and night together. Their companionship is easy as they get to know each other.
Scarlett’s mother takes a fall at Castle Calder and Scarlett doesn’t have anyway to get there quickly. The only person who she knows with a car is Bradley. He ends up driving her up there and she discovers that family is extremely important to him. Bradley stays overnight and meets Scarlett’s parents the next day at the hospital before he returns to London. Scarlett stays at Castle Calder for a week while her mother recovers. She and Bradley text and Skype the entire time she’s away. Scarlett’s mother suspects something is going on between Scarlett and her boss but only gives a light word of warning. Her first stop upon returning to London is Bradley’s apartment and a sexual reunion. However Scarlett is concerned that she didn’t just miss the sex she missed Bradley. That is a problem if his feelings are evolving like hers.
The problems begin when Tara wants to throw a party for Tom. Tara wants Scarlett to ask Bradley if he’ll come for Tom. She wants. When Scarlett asks Bradley he’s hesitant. He doesn’t want Tom’s friends, who are mostly co-workers, to feel awkward with the boss around. Bradley makes a comment referring to their “arrangement” and Scarlett has an epiphany. Scarlett realizes she feels more-than-casual about Bradley but doesn’t believe Bradley feels more for her. She sees that even if he did feel have feelings for her they couldn’t pursue it. As long as she works for him there’s no possibility for a relationship between them. If she stays in the “non-relationship” she’s only going to get hurt. Therefore she informs Bradley that their “arrangement” is no longer working for her and ends it.
Bradley asks if it was something he did and Scarlett says it yes. However she won’t tell him what that thing was. Scarlett avoids Bradley as much as she can. Bradley informs Scarlett he needs her designs for the new office meeting rooms to become reality within the week. Therefore Scarlett is working day and night and weekends to fulfill the request. Scarlett and Bradley have some interactions that lead Scarlett to believe that perhaps there is a possibility for them. She begins to put some plans into motion but Bradley’s ex-fiancée turns up and Scarlett becomes insecure. In the end the ball is in Scarlett’s court to make some serious life choices.
Scarlett starts out as not an easy-to-love Heroine which makes “A Brit Complicated” slightly challenging to get into. However Bradley is such a charming and intriguing character you want to keep reading to get to know him better. In turn Scarlett’s judgments and assumptions are exposed and she becomes more likable. The romance between Bradley and Scarlett is stellar. Although the sex scenes aren’t extremely descriptive they are steamy. The chemistry that Bradley and Scarlett share and the banter they exchange is electric and amusing. Their “courtship” is just plain adorable. Brenda St. John Brown allows all the previous series Heroes and Heroines to put their two-pence in during this book. Which is great fun. In short, “A Brit Complicated” is Simply enchanting.
I’m giving “A Brit Complicated” 4 Lightning Bolts and a Gale Warning.
This novel was provided, voluntarily read, and honestly reviewed.