Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Jackson's Jewel by N.J. Walters

TITLE: Jackson’s Jewel
AUTHOR: N.J. Walters
PUBLISHER: Ellora’s Cave
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 85k)
GENRE: Contemporary erotic romance
COST: $6.99

For the past year, Jackson Connors has lived alone. His brother and sister have married and moved out, and now he is left to cultivate the family farm. Unfortunately, that means housekeeping takes a back seat to other responsibilities, so his sister hires Emerald Jewel as his new housekeeper. Emerald is on the run from a stalker, and needs someplace to hide away, so the room and board opportunity seems too good to pass up. She just didn’t count on being so attracted to her new boss. Or vice versa…

The latest installment of N.J. Walters’ Awakening Desires series returns to the Connors clan, with brother Jackson finally getting his chance at the love wheel. Jackson is the rock of the Connors family, the oldest son who raised Erin and Nathan after their father took off. He is the most solid, the most dependable, the most wholesome of the bunch. When I saw that this was his story, my first thought was, “It’s about time.”

Jackson is just as wonderful in this as he was in previous books. This is a man where duty and honor are paramount. He does what needs to be done, regardless of how it might affect him. When he first learns of Emerald’s plight, he makes the only move he can – he offers to help. And that is the crux of why I adore him so much. He’s not perfect. He closes himself off in order not to get hurt. He can’t relax enough to laugh. But there is a core of steel running through him that I freely admit I find attractive. And it’s this basic goodness that makes me want to follow his story.

As much as I liked Jackson from the start, though, Emerald was harder for me to love. Much of her backstory is condensed into telling in the first chapter, so it’s a slow warm-up to her personality. Then, in the first sexual encounter between Emerald and Jackson, he stops things because a) he doesn’t have a condom, and b) he thinks it’s too soon. She immediately overreacts and flies off the handle, accusing him of being too closed off (which is true but really not relevant in this case) before storming off and hiding in her room for the rest of the night. I mean, it’s not like she didn’t get off. And he’s right. They had zero protection. She’s a city girl, raised in a contemporary setting where condoms are the norm. Her reaction annoyed me, and it took the rest of the book to lift her back up to a level where I was invested in her danger.

Speaking of…the strength of N.J. Walters’ writing lies in creating hot sex scenes. Plotting in this – the addition of the dangerous element of Emerald’s stalker – seems secondary to the ramping up of the seduction. The execution of finding out her stalker’s identity never flows as well as the rest of the book, though the action gets much tighter at the end. Oddly enough, I’m more forgiving of it in Walters’ writing than I am elsewhere.

I’m also a little more forgiving of phrases that normally make me cringe in other stories, like Her pussy wept with need for him. I don’t consider Walters’ prose anything outstanding or original, but for some reason, her seductions and sex scenes almost always work for me. My friends call books like this brain candy. That’s probably an apt description for my attraction to this author’s work. In this case, though, I’m more than happy to spend a few hours devouring Jackson. Oops. I meant, Jackson’s story.


8/10 – Brain candy. Even though I know it’s not perfect, I can’t stop reading.


9/10 – I’ve always loved Jackson. This only made me love him more.


7/10 – Overcomes some serious early over-reacting to be a worthy partner for Jackson.

Entertainment value

8/10 – I said it before. Brain candy. I read and read and I end up with a huge smile on my face.

World building

8/10 – The farm thrives. Experiencing Emerald’s world in order to better appreciate the stalking doesn’t.



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