Beyond the Ivory Tower by Jill Blake

Beyond the Ivory Tower Cover

Extremely entertaining, “nerds in love” romance

Beyond the Ivory Tower by Jill Blake

Reading Level: Adult Romance
Release Date: November 11, 2015
Pages: 149 pages
Source: Purchase
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry

Anna Lazarev is a brilliant math professor who, at 32, has been a tenured professor since the very young age of 29. She raised her sister from the age of 23 when their equally brilliant Russian émigré parents died in a car accident. Now at age 19, Anna’s sister is dropping out of college to become part of a highly innovative intern program, and Anna finds this extremely upsetting. Its founder and primary funder, billionaire venture capitalist, 39-year-old Ethan Talbot, believes the US academic system is overpriced and grossly under-delivers in terms of producing the possibility for graduates to obtain good-paying jobs. His solution is to offer top-flight students a chance to participate in a highly competitive program. It provides the opportunity to be mentored by extremely successful business people within the participants’ chosen areas of expertise in order to pursue their entrepreneurial goals without going massively into debt, both in terms of the cost of education and a great deal of lost income during their years in school.

Anna is extremely upset because she believes that Ethan has lured her baby sister into this program with a series of false promises. At best, in her opinion, he will keep her extremely smart and talented sister from the education that Anna’s convinced she requires to obtain the American Dream that Anna herself has achieved. At worst, Anna believes that Ethan has a hidden agenda to steal the marketable ideas that his protégées come up with during their time in his program.

When fiery Anna flies from her home in Los Angeles to arrive without notice in order to burst into Ethan’s office in San Francisco to confront him, Ethan is instantly taken with Anna’s amazing combination of beauty, brains and passion. Rather than getting defensive or angry at her attack on his integrity, he invites her to lunch to discuss their diametrically opposed points of view, and thus begins a fascinating relationship between two people who may seem as if they are opposites, but have far more in common than either at first assumes.

I am a sucker for romances between highly intelligent, well educated, scholarly types AKA “nerds.” Such romance protagonists are extremely uncommon, though this particular author has written several such books, and I’ve enjoyed both of her novels that I’ve read so far.

Anna is a very sympathetic heroine, because she is strong, determined, intensely responsible, and extremely loyal to her sister, who is her only family. Ethan is a very good match for her, because he is a powerful, rich, successful man who is not only not intimidated by a strong, successful woman, but rejoices in her strength and success.

There is excellent sexual tension throughout the book, but there are no graphic sex scenes, which some readers may find a relief with the plethora of endless graphic sex in romance novels so common these days. The sexual scenes that do occur are tender as well as sensual, and very well written.

The author’s writing style is clear and direct, with no “purple prose,” which makes the book very readable. The book is very well edited and formatted, which is a big plus among indie novels.

I rate this book as follows:

Heroine: 4

Hero: 4

Romance Plot: 4

Writing: 4

Overall: 4