Book 2 in The Reliance Group series
A special thanks to Janelle for the review copy!
Zoe Russo is so excited when leasing agent Sean O’Brien contacts her about setting up shop at the Onyx Casino. It fits her budget, is a great location, and has plenty of space for her to use. And when the sexy Irishman asks her out on a date as well – what’s there to say no to? However, Sean O’Brien is no leasing agent, instead he’s an ex-conman working as part of The Reliance Group to locate Zoe’s father, who is accused of embezzling funds from his own work project. Sean has a personal vendetta against Grant Russo that makes this case extremely important to him. He’ll go to any measure to catch this guy and put him behind bars, and if that measure is dating the man’s incredibly attractive daughter, well, he’ll just have to 'suffer' through.
Meanwhile, pop-star Jessica Morgan (Zoe’s best friend) gets a romance of her own when she meets up with high school sweetheart and one-time lover, Noah Young. Single, attractive, and the manager of a successful nightclub, Noah is the package deal. But he and Jessie have some unresolved issues from their past that will put their fresh, new romance on the line and their future at stake. Can Jessie learn to trust in Noah and the amazing man he is? Can she see past her own shame and guilt for leaving him? Could this cute couple possibly have a happy ending in store?
I loved the romance between Jessie and Noah and that, combined with the plot (which, by the way, was a total surprise at the end) is what kept me turning the pages. I liked Jessica a lot, as a person and a heroine. She was a fun but caring and responsible pop star and I liked that her occupation was a little different than the norm. I thought the way she and Noah worked out their problems was classy and deep, and I loved him for his understanding, patience, and unconditional love. Jessica had a lot of issues in her childhood and past, and their romance about overcoming and learning to trust again was touching. Both of their characters were developed well, and I felt very close to them each throughout the book. The suspense plot was fairly well written – and you can bet your bottom buck that you won’t guess where Grant Russo is ‘hiding out’ until it’s revealed at the end. It was a fun, unique premise and fairly suspenseful but not overwhelming.
My main problems with this book were the poor attention to detail, a few absolutely unbelievable scenes, and the protagonists. There were a lot of grammatical errors I can across – missing letters, etc. HOWEVER please note that the copy I received was a REVIEW COPY and therefore the actually print addition may have less (or no) mistakes. I cannot definitively say either way. But things like people thinking about themselves in third person, Zoe calling herself a ‘daddy’s girl’ then getting upset when Sean jokingly calls her the same, and using the word ‘lessoning’ instead of ‘lessening’ bothered me as I read.
As far as unbelievable scenes, how about this one: Zoe is in the parking garage when this guy starts stalking towards her. She gets rightfully scared, runs back to her car, gets in, and locks it. She then proceeds to SIT THERE in her car while the guy pulls out a knife and starts saying scary things to her. And all the while she's thinking of how she's going to die because he can break the window and slash her throat. One would think that she would, oh, I don’t know – DRIVE AWAY? You’re in your car, lady! DRIVE AWAY FROM THE SCARY MAN WITH THE BIG ASS KNIFE!!! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?? Waiting for him to make sushi on the hood of your car? RUN AWAY. I tell you. It drives me nuts.
Finally, the protagonists were a little under-developed, cliché and contradictory. Sean is hypocritical, especially at the beginning of the book, and that in and of itself is an annoyance. Then Zoe, who claims she wants commitment before entering a relationship thinks “…this was just a dinner, not a lifetime commitment, and that worked perfectly well for her.” which sounds like the words of a girl who likes casual dating. Which Zoe has already claimed that she doesn’t. Sean is annoying in his ‘I’m not worthy’ cry baby attitude and Zoe, while pitiable, is kinda wimpy. I just didn't like either of them, especially Sean, and couldn't sympathize with their plights. Overall I wasn’t satisfied with or convinced of their love for one another, and I tried to ignore their romance in favor of Jessica and Noah – the two loveable characters in the novel.
“Nice?” She lifted her head and gave him an incredulous look. “More like spectacular.”
“Good to know.” Smiling he smoothed her hair from her face then readjusted her bra and top portion of her dress, making her presentable again. “Next time we’ll strive for phenomenal.”
“If you’re talking about me bringing women to Alex Stratta for dinner, you’re the first.”
Her cheeks warmed at the thought, and she was grateful for the dim, outdoor lighting that disguised the extra color suffusing her face. “Lucky me.”
Unexpectedly, he reached out and skimmed the pad of his thumb along her jaw, then trailed his fingers along her bare neck in a sensual caress. “No, lucky me,” he murmured huskily.
“Sexy”ness rating: Hot!
Overall Rating: B
Bottom Line: This book had a great romance between the secondary characters, but the primary romance was a little cliché and stilted and the main characters were contradictory. Nevertheless the book was engaging, if a little underwhelming, and Jessica and Noah’s story really made the book for me!
Published: October 4, 2011
Genre: Romantic Suspense/Contemporary