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Hard    by Emma Gold order for
by Emma Gold
Order:  USA  Can
Kensington, 2004 (2004)

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*   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

Emma has had over a hundred different jobs in her thirty-two years. She originally trained to be a lawyer, but after holding three mind-numbing solicitor positions, decided to forego the legal profession. Now working as a controller for a temp agency, Emma finally looks forward to going to work each day. She enjoys her colleague Tina. Emma never tires of hearing about Tina's sexual exploits as well as how she dotes on her two grown sons.

An opportunity arises for Emma to meet Tina's younger son Luca. The two hit it off and immediately start spending a great deal of time together. But as her personal life heats up, things at work become chilly. Emma's sleazy boss Wayne escalates his annoying innuendoes to sexual harassment. When Emma decides to write him a memo asking him to stop, things reach a critical point. Will Emma and Luca's relationship work out, and will Emma keep the job she has grown to love?

This novel takes an interesting look at a flaky British woman, who seeks fulfillment in her career and a chance at love. Emma is funny and has a wacky set of friends, especially her gay roommate Simon. But I found it difficult to have any sympathy for her character. She has no ambition, no drive to improve her life. It's appalling that at age thirty-two Emma desires little more than to party, sleep in, and talk with her friends. I can understand not liking the career she chose and trained for, as that does happen. Yet no job pleases her. She lies to her bosses, wastes time, and is one of the laziest characters I have ever encountered.

Emma and Luca's relationship is fun and adds levity to the story. Focusing more on the love angle would have made this book an enjoyable chick lit offering. Unfortunately, most of the focus is on Emma's job woes, which get tedious after a while. But for all of its shortcomings, Hard moves along at a quick pace and has the requisite happy ending. And those outside the U.K. can enjoy descriptions of all things British and a glimpse into another way of life.

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