There are generally several common features to romances that star billionaire CEOs. Overwhelmingly, the CEO is the hero, not the heroine. There’s also better than average chance that he’s into BDSM (and he’s the top, natch). He probably doesn’t actually do all that much work over the course of the novel and, since it’s a romance, he’s brilliant, confident, gorgeous and fantastic in bed. Chances are the heroine of these novels will be young, naive and will probably eventually end up working for him in some capacity by the end of the book. So it pleases me when I find a CEO romance like Saving the CEO, which pokes playfully at a lot of these standard features.
Jenny Holiday is a new author whose debut Saving the CEO has much to recommend it. The CEO is still our hero, and he’s still gorgeous and good in bed. Jack Winter also has dyscalculia, a learning difficulty similar to dyslexia, but involving numbers rather than letters. So while he’s perfectly confident in his ability to close a deal, he’s not as assured in his ability to identify discrepancies in his company’s books when it looks like his best friend and business partner may be embezzeling.
Cassie James is the bartender at Jack’s favorite restaurant, Edward’s. But Cassie isn’t only a bartender. She’s also a college student, working her way slowly through a math degree while paying for her mother’s drug rehab. And it’s only a little far-fetched when after they’ve connected as friends and lovers, Jack asks for Cassie’s help in checking his books and helping him secure a critical real estate deal in the absence of being able to trust his partner.
Despite some category-esque cheesy parts that seem to have been added in for the trope factor, Saving the CEO was unexpectedly delightful. Cassie the math genius was bright, independent and doesn’t end up going to work for the hero at the end of the book. Jack is alpha enough that he makes some fairly brazen moves early in the book, but the two of them then make a game of trading off who’s “in charge” in bed. There are plenty of scenes where the two of them actually do the work they’re being paid for: both at Jack’s company and at Cassie’s bartending job. It gave the story an element of richness that is missing from a lot of romance.
This is, I think, Jenny Holiday’s first book and she’s definitely a writer to watch. I’ll be especially interested to see what she can do with a single title romance, just because that’s my particular preference. But even if she just continues writing for Entangled, I’ll definitely be picking up her work again in the future.
I considered buying some preserved lemons for this post because I wanted to see if I could make the pork and preserved lemon thing that Cassie gets wrong in one of the first scenes of the book. Couldn’t find them anywhere. Had employees at four separate grocery stores look at me like I had three heads. Presumably someone knows how to get them, but that’s not me apparently.
That said, the actual recipe the chef at Edward’s seems to have had in mind is delicious. Or, at least, my version of it was. This is just a basic pork tenderloin stuffed with goat cheese, sauteed spinach and dried cranberries. I used a boxed rice pilaf mix made by Near East and made my very favorite brussels sprouts to go with them since it is very far from being anywhere near asparagus season, which is in the spring. You might think you don’t like brussels sprouts. You’re probably wrong. These are drenched in bacon, onions and balsamic glaze and are pretty much my favorite food ever. I make them a lot. They even converted my husband to brussels sprout love.
As for the pork itself, I just slit it open, put some plastic wrap over the top and then pounded it to a uniform 1/2 inch thickness (or as close as I could get). Aside from waking up the dog and sending him into a barking frenzy, it worked out rather well. I suppose you could also use a real meat mallet or a rolling pin, but my empty beer bottle worked fine.
I tied the meat up kind of fancy, but you can just use three or four separate pieces of cooking twine or even toothpicks to hold it closed while it bakes.
Serve with a glass of your finest Scotch.
- 12 ounces fresh baby spinach
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 ounces goat cheese at room temperature
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 pork tenderloin
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Heat a large skillet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add spinach and cook until it wilts, stirring occasionally. Remove to a medium bowl and let cool.
- While the spinach is cooling, slice the pork tenderloin down the long side, but not all the way through. it should still be attached on one side. Cover the tenderloin with plastic wrap and pound until it's about a 1/2 thick with a meat mallet, rolling pin or empty bottle. Remove the plastic wrap Cut four lengths of cooking twine for securing the tenderloin closed once it's stuffed.
- In a medium bowl, combine spinach, goat cheese, cranberries, salt and pepper. Mix until well combined. Spread the mixture over the entire opened tenderloin, then roll closed, using the cooking twice to secure it closed.
- In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat. Add the tenderloin and brown on each side, about 5 minutes total.
- Oil a baking dish with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and remove the tenderloin to the baking dish. Cook in the oven for approximately 25 minutes or until a meat thermometer registers 160 degrees F, flipping the meat halfway through the baking time.
- When done, remove from oven and allow to rest 5 minutes. Slice into approximately 3/4 inch thick slices and serve.
49th Floor Novels
October 20, 2014