When we last left Jones Apparel Group (NYSE:JNY) and Maxwell Shoe (NASDAQ:MAXS) together in late February, we held out a slim hope that the companies would be able to play nice after Jones' unsolicited buyout offer for Maxwell. Jones' offer, the company says, came only after formal talks between the two ended, and last week Maxwell dashed the aforementioned slim hope with a missive directing Jones to... well, to what, exactly?

That's what we'll have to wait and see. Maxwell certainly didn't tell Jones not to boost their offer and try again, though, we've yet to see a public response from Jones since Maxwell's last press release, issued on Friday morning before the market's open. Still, the company must have anticipated Maxwell's rebuffing of its offer -- made as it was when Maxwell, it seems, didn't even have a financial advisor on board. (The company has since brought in Lehman Brothers (NYSE:LEH) to help out.)

Investors who anticipated drama are, thus far at least, still smiling. Jones bid $20 per share in cash for Maxwell, and that news -- plus the implicit assumption that Maxwell would balk, and Jones would raise its bid -- popped the latter company's shares above that level almost immediately. They sat at just above $22 after Monday's close.

It's no surprise that Jones would be interested in a company such as Maxwell, which is profitable, growing, and cash-flow positive. But this isn't a deal like the acquisition of bankrupt Kasper, announced in December, or even Nine West, which needed some work when the company agreed to buy it back in 1999.

As such, one wonders if Jones investors shouldn't be happy with their company's aggressive approach in this case -- presumably it will just walk away if it can't get a price that fits with the company's strategy of building out its stable of brands ahead of a full-scale economic recovery. Maxwell investors who played the merger game, meanwhile, must sit and wait.

Talk about the Jones bid for Maxwell on our Jones Apparel or Maxwell Shoe discussion boards.

Fool contributor Dave Marino-Nachison doesn't own any of the companies in this story. He can be reached via email.