REVIEW: Sweet Talk by Julie GarwoodThursday, September 13, 2012 1:00
Julie Garwood delivers contemporary romance with strong, likeable characters and engrossing stories with an element of mystery and suspense that keeps her readers engaged until the end and beyond. Sweet Talk starts off with her usual engaging flair, but falters in the middle and is unable to sustain the momentum, though it all comes together well in the end.
Olivia Mackenzie knows her father is a criminal bilking thousands of people of their hard-earned savings. Determined to expose his reality, she joins the IRS, but is unable to make any headway until she accidentally stumbles into an FBI sting operation targeting another crooked financier. Suddenly the threads start to come together, and she partners up with Grayson Kincaid, the FBI agent in charge, to find the evidence to prove guilt.
Grayson is bowled over when he first meets and rescues Olivia from a gun-toting body guard, and his agitated FBI teammate is upset at having months of work flushed down the toilet. His plans to get to know Olivia better are foiled as first his father has a heart attack and then he has to take over guardianship of his young nephew. Before he can figure out how to reconnect with Olivia, she becomes the target of a gunman and Grayson is back in action as her personal protector and deploys the FBI’s considerable resources, as well as his own where necessary, to track down “who shot Olivia?”
Both Olivia and Grayson are wonderful characters. Olivia is a cancer survivor and wants to live for today and not really plan for a tomorrow that might not come. I love the scenes between the two of them when Olivia tries to avoid intimacy and tries to characterize their relationship as short-term lust and Grayson works to convince her into a long-term play. Since this is a love story with a happy ending, you can clearly tell who wins.
There is a great cast of supporting characters: Henry, Grayson’s nephew, who almost immediately bonds with Olivia and, intrigued by some of her stories of volunteering to protect abused kids, uses her help to expose and defeat a bully in his school; Olivia’s sisters of the heart, her fellow cancer survivors, who were in the experimental treatment program with her; Olivia’s aunt Emma, who took the place of her dysfunctional family and was more of a mother to her than her own; Grayson’s partner Ronan, who I hope will be a future character as he pursues his attraction to one of the PIPS.
On the flip side we see the really ugly underbelly in family relationships when money is involved and love and honor is sacrificed in pursuit of the filthy lucre. Olivia’s father and her brother-in-law are willing to commit to her to a mental institute and/or even kill her, if necessary, to gain control of her trust fund. Jane’s brother slowly poisons his sister with arsenic, making her and her friends think that she is going to be a victim of the original cancer aftereffects so that he can inherit her money.
With the element of suspense in tracking down the gunman and exposing Olivia’s father, the story has all the ingredients to make it a fabulous read. However, there are so many threads that I got a little confused and lost focus with the main storyline. All in all, I love the characters and I enjoyed the book, but I wish that there had been less distractions and more focus on the central story.
When FBI agent Grayson Kincaid first encounters Olivia MacKenzie, she makes quite an impression.
The beautiful, tough, young attorney has stumbled into the middle of an FBI sting operation and has reduced it to chaos. Months of surveillance and careful planning down the drain, Kincaid’s partner is furious and lets Olivia know that she’s ticked off the wrong guy. After all, he’s FBI.
Olivia isn’t intimidated by his partner’s bullying because she’s something even scarier…she’s IRS. And working for the IRS isn’t for the faint of heart. She’s on the trail of an elaborate Ponzi scheme, one that threatens to ruin the lives of naive and unsuspecting victims, and one she has personal reasons to be angry about. But after she asks questions of the wrong people, her life is suddenly endangered. She’s accustomed to fighting for the underdog but being vulnerable herself is a very different story. Smart enough to know when she need reinforcements, she looks to Grayson Kincaid.
Together they make an excellent team to fight corruption, but Olivia is also fighting the immediate and intense attraction she feels for Agent Kincaid, and that may be a battle she is bound to lose.
Read an excerpt.
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