The Desperate Game by Jayne Castle
It's hard to keep a small business afloat--just ask Guinevere Jones, owner of a struggling temp agency. And security consultant Zac Justis isn't making life any easier. After he blackmails Gwen into helping him solve a computer crime, she finds herself caught in a web of suspense, danger, and love.
Gwen is an amazing character--she is a small business owner and she works hard to keep her business going, even when it means filling in on some of the temp jobs her agency takes on when her small work staff can't make it. One such job finds Gwen as a waitress at a yuppie bar (this book was published in the 80's) where she sees a man who in her words is ugly and squatting and so she calls him Frog. Frog is in fact Zachariah Justis, the male romantic lead. Zac has been hired by StarrTech to find out who is stealing from the company--materials are getting rerouted during shipping and the discrepancy in units being shipped vs. units being delivered has recently been found thanks to a new computer program designed by a programmer at StarrTech. Zac, who has recently started his security consulting business, really needs to be able to resolve this satisfactorily for his client to help get his fledgling business off the ground.
Gwen, meanwhile, has had interactions with StarrTech that leave her open to blackmail which Zac has no problems using if it means getting what he needs from her. Gwen is a people person and Zac wants to use this to his advantage believing that the programmers at StarrTech will speak openly around her and she will be able to pass useful information on to him. What Gwen actually finds out is that the programmer who discovered the inventory problem is now missing, his friend is worried as they were developing a game that would allow them to do what they really love, and that Zac is still a Frog...even after a few kisses.
I enjoyed The Desperate Game quite a bit; Zac is a great hero in the fact that he is not an obvious hero. He is the owner of a new and struggling company, he has been called the Glacier because he is not at all impulsive but rather thinks about everything deeply and thoroughly. He is determined to succeed but wants to know all the connections between all the clues he and Gwen dig up before he makes a move to do anything else. Gwen on the other hand is more of a social person and has no problems making intuitive leaps and then waits impatiently for Zac to decide if he agrees or not. She dives into situations that might get her into trouble while Zac seems to be the ultimate boy scout. Except, he wasn't quite expecting Gwen and that right there is what works so well about this book.
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