Having only read books from Entangled’s Brazen line, I didn’t quite know what to expect from my first Bliss book. What I found in Paula Altenburg’s Desire by Design was a sweet, entertaining read with a strong element of romance, a dash of flirtatious banter, and just a pinch of intrigue.
Our oft-described ball-busting heroine, Evangeline Doucette, is a Project Manager for Sullivan Construction in Nova Scotia. At twenty-nine, Eve has climbed her way up the ladder, holding her own in a male-dominated field, despite not having a fancy degree. Eve is stubborn, opinionated, and driven to succeed – qualities that help stifle the insecurities that still linger long after the end of her disastrous divorce five years earlier.
Enter Matt Bison, the handsome nephew of Mayor Bob Anderson (a.k.a. Eve’s nemesis) and hotshot architect transported from Toronto to design the new City Hall – a commission for which Eve was campaigning. Sparks fly when Eve and Matt find themselves working together on plans for the project, although Eve’s penchant for historical restorations contrasts brilliantly with Matt’s professional accomplishments with modern designs.
What we then have is a case of opposite attracting. While Matt is the picture of calm assuredness, Eve is the textbook definition of a spitfire, quick to anger and passionate about everything she undertakes. When circumstances find the pair living under the same roof, Matt is left to examine his undeniable attraction to a no-nonsense workaholic who is drastically different than the domestic goddess he envisions as his future wife. Eve also must question whether or not she can place her trust in another man after being burned by her controlling ex-husband, Claude.
Despite Eve’s reservations, Matt is indeed a “nice guy”. While he may be disgruntled with the seemingly-offensive label, I found his straightforwardness and agreeable personality to be a refreshing change from the tattooed playboys with emotional baggage the size of Texas that are frequenting the pages of many a book nowadays.
The drama is thus provided by Eve, who faces criticism both at work and at home, where her tight-knit family is constantly on her case about settling down with a family of her own. While I applaud Eve’s decision to succeed with her career rather than succumb to the pressures of a patriarchal society, I had to wonder at her particular disdain for being a housewife and following in her mothers’ footsteps. This was a minor issue that didn’t sit well with me and I would’ve liked to see some resolution, i.e. each acknowledging the other’s hard work and dedication.
Overall, Desire by Design is a light, fun story with witty dialogue that flows effortlessly from start to finish. The clashing personalities of the two protagonists infuse the narrative with enough humor to counteract the seriousness of the narrative, ensuring that there is never a dull moment.
Rating: 4 stars