Friday, May 2, 2008

Craving Candy by N.J. Walters

TITLE: Craving Candy
AUTHOR: N.J. Walters
PUBLISHER: Ellora’s Cave
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 57k)
GENRE: Contemporary erotic romance
COST: $5.95

Candy Logan’s latest project is the one that could make her career – a cookbook filled with gorgeous art, anecdotes, and recipes from local hotspot, Coffee Breaks. She’s only got one problem. Owner Lucas Squires refuses to even return her phone calls regarding publicity. Determined to corner him once and for all, she attends a party at his new opening, where she meets the most charismatic, sexual man she has ever encountered. A wild tryst in a storage room makes her head spin, but it goes even more insane when she learns that the man who is driving her crazy is the one she’s been hounding for publicity. For his part, Lucas doesn’t know what to do with this woman who makes him want to throw caution to the wind, but if all it takes is a few publicity stunts to get her to go out with him, he’s more than happy to oblige…

The very first e-book I ever bought was Erin’s Fancy by N.J. Walters. To this day, I think it’s one of the hottest e-books I’ve ever read. I went out and bought the first in the series, which I also enjoyed, then got the third when it came out. That one disappointed. I’m pretty sure that’s the biggest reason it took me so long to get around to reading this fourth installment in her Awakening Desires series.

The opening chapter gave me chills. It starts out with a gripping scene of a young Lucas witnessing his father beating his mother and taking matters into his own hands, and segues into a powerful moment showing what kind of man Lucas has actually evolved into. It was darker than this series has been before – or at least how I remember it – and I got swept into the second chapter with breathless expectation. I was already half in love with Lucas, and was eager to see where he would go.

The promise of that first chapter never paid off. We meet Candy, who seems nice enough at first, and then the story shifts into one of those strangers see each other across a crowded room and five minutes later are having sex because they want each other so bad stories. I was still with the author at this point, because I thought maybe she’d subvert such an obvious set-up into something a little different. Except…no. She didn’t. In fact, the moment Candy found out she’d just hid out in the storage room with Lucas, she went illogical. She gets furious with him and storms off. When she gets home, she’s livid and throws a temper tantrum, and even goes so far as calls Lucas her “nemesis.” Huh? She’s his publicist. He couldn’t very well be responsible for hiding his identity from her when a) she only gave him her first name, b) she’d been going by Candace and not Candy so there was no reason for him to make the connection, and c) she specifically chose not to ask his name because she wanted it to be a one-time thing. Her animosity and anger made no sense. Except to provide conflict. This happens over and over in the book, with Candy making hasty, illogical leaps of logic that only serve to make her more and more unlikable. Other than sex, I never saw what Lucas saw in her.

Despite the promise of the first chapter, the rest of the story never deviates from its rather predictable progression. There’s a subplot about Candy’s family that feels like either filler or fodder for the next book, and there’s an attempt at more conflict when she gets a job offer in New York City. The sex is more than hot, but in the end, that’s not enough to compensate for an unpleasant heroine and an unsurprising plot.


8/10 – Even when I have issues with one of the leads, it’s difficult to stop reading.


7/10 – A glorious introduction that is never quite fully realized.


4/10 – Illogical and too quick to judge to make her likable.

Entertainment value

6/10 – Hot sex scenes can only go so far when I don’t like one of the two leads

World building

7/10 – Adequate, though nothing earth-shattering.



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