Monday, August 17, 2009

Rude Awakening by Veronica Chadwick

TITLE: Rude Awakening
AUTHOR: Veronica Chadwick
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 107k)
GENRE: Suspense erotic romance
COST: $6.50

Widow Jaimee Turner is trying to get on with her life, but the attention of the devastating Lucas Grayson is not what she expected. He’s straight off a romance novel cover, and she’s…well, at a size eighteen and with a job as a middle school English teacher, she’s not. But Lucas is determined to prove to her she’s sexy, even if she doesn’t believe it. He has to. It’s his job as the FBI agent assigned to get close enough to her to discover whether or not she’s complicit with her dead husband’s embezzlement…

NOTE: This is a review originally written for Uniquely Pleasurable.

The story starts out wonderfully, with an incredibly sympathetic heroine getting attention she neither trusts nor expects. Jaimee is a grieving widow, who had sublimated a lot of her own needs and desires in deference to her dead husband. She’s also plus-sized, which in a skinny mini world, has all its own baggage. The book opens up with her at the gym, getting approached by a guy who looks like he walked off a romance novel cover. She tells him off, expecting him to say something demeaning, only to be taken by surprise when he seems to like her curves and sticks with the charm the entire way.

Little does she know, he’s Lucas Grayson, undercover FBI agent, who’s been assigned to get in her good graces and search her house for information her dead husband had. Her husband was an accountant with an organized crime organization, and embezzled a ton of money from them, putting it all in an overseas account in Jaimee’s name. Jaimee knows none of this, but the FBI is determined to take down The Collective. They’ll either protect Jaimee or arrest her, as they deem appropriate for the circumstances.

Lucas is convinced she’s innocent. In fact, he’s attracted to her in a lot of ways he’s not normally. He works incredibly hard to get past all her defenses, and while some of the charm is attributable to his job, he actually means it. The chemistry between them sparked from the very beginning. Jaimee stood him down, then was appropriately horrified when she realized she was judging him the way she had just accused him of judging her. She doesn’t find it easy to believe that someone as gorgeous as Lucas could ever be interested in someone like her, but slowly, bit by bit, he chips away at her resolve. There’s a bittersweet edge to all the seduction, because the closer Lucas gets to her, the more he likes her, and the knowledge that he’s going to end up hurting her far more than The Collective could eats at him. I believed in all of it, though, because I trusted the chemistry between them and wanted to think it would find a way to work out.

Then the sex happened. It was good, don’t get me wrong. In fact, it was very good at the start. But it just kept going, and going, and going, and going, like it was necessary to get as much sex in as possible before the suspense part of the plot could really take off. It just got to be too much. I got bored with it before it swung back into the main thrust of the other story arc, and ultimately, because it took me time to get re-invested in everything due to that temporary disconnect, that’s the reason this story doesn’t score higher for me.

When the suspense arc swings back into action, it’s all tense, emotional, and swiftly choreographed. I did think the HEA was a tad too easy considering the depths of Jaimee’s turmoil, and I really could have done without the saccharine epilogue, but the latter at least is one of those issues people never agree on. For every reader out there like me that tends to go into sugar overload on them, there’s another who absolutely loves them. It certainly doesn’t affect my overall enjoyment, probably because it had already been marred due to the concentrated glut of sex scenes. But the characters maintain their credibility and – more importantly – their likeability throughout the story, and end up carrying this successfully to the end.


8/10 – Minor editorial details and a glut of sex scenes in the same section slow down an otherwise strong read


8/10 – Demanding and sexy, with a side of tenderness that can’t be beat


8/10 – Suitably insecure when the need arises, with a backbone of steel when it counts

Entertainment value

7/10 – The imbalance of sex scenes holds back an otherwise satisfying read

World building

8/10 – The details of Jaimee’s world are fantastic, but I needed more about what was exactly going on to fully appreciate the potential danger she was in



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