All’s Fair In Love and Advertising by Lenore Black
Length: Short Story (150 pgs)
Rating: 3 cherries
Review by: Cactus
The life of a creative genius isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, not when said genius is Max Tomlin, hotshot creative director of his own New York ad agency and slightly neurotic headcase. Still reeling after a painful divorce, he’s been taking a walk on the gay side, but that hasn’t gone much better. At least his agency is in the running for a new account—even if the prospective client is from rural, backward Montana!
Max’s big-city prejudices go by the wayside when he meets Joe Bennett, aviation innovator and self-made businessman. Joe is smart, passionate, good-looking in a Marlboro Man way, and Max is hopelessly smitten. But business comes first, and Max can’t afford any distractions, not when he has an account to win and Joe’s legacy to protect. It’s going to take all of Max’s quick thinking, fast talking and sheer determination to win the account, save Joe’s company—and keep their budding relationship from becoming a casualty of corporate warfare.
Neurotic genius Max finally meets his match in sexy aviator Joe. Retired pilot Joe comes to Max Tomlin’s ad agency for help saving his company. Max can’t deny the attraction to his potential new client but makes some dangerous assumptions. When Joe shows Max how wrong those snap judgments are, Max is more than willing to mix a little business and pleasure. Unfortunately Joe’s company is at stake and a grave mistake on Max’s part may cost them both more than they can afford.
This is a light and easy story that has a touch of angst and a rather predictable plot. The story is told in third person from Max's point of view, so he is the best characterized and most fleshed out character. There are a plethora of supporting characters from Max’s crew at the advertising agency to his ex-wife and Joe that revolve around Max’s orbit, but Max is the star of the book. His personality is meant to charm and overcome his abrasive nature and manic actions. Max starts the book condescending and judgmental while yelling at his creative team and being very scatterbrained. He doesn’t grow much in the course of the book but he does slowly allow for the possibility of happiness with his new relationship to Joe. The key to liking this book is liking Max and reader reaction may vary on this polarizing personality. For those that find a neurotic creative genius funny and charming, then this story could work well for you.
The setting of the ad agency is one stroke of real genius. The level of detail and atmosphere is very well fleshed out and detailed, giving a rich – though slightly insane – working environment where those not exactly normal flourish. The different personalities sometimes blend together as they move in and out of scenes incredibly fast with little to differentiate them but the overall feel of the agency comes across incredibly well. The plot, predictable as I’ve said, is still laid out so that if a reader can suspend disbelief, there are plausible reasons for why events happen as they do. The final resolution is a strong happy ending so romance fans will end the story on a high note.
The writing is somewhat bland in places but picks up during the interactions between Max and his creative team. The strength of the book – and its weakness – lies with Max and his abrasive personality. If readers can enjoy the biting remarks, mistakes, and neurotic behaviors, then the story takes on a fun, fast paced edge. If this sounds like a book you’d enjoy, then settle in for the ride and enjoy.