24 September, 2012

Review: Sweet Talk by Julie Garwood

I didn't utterly hate it, so there's that. If there is a literary equivalent of easy listening, this book is it. Snoozey McSnoozerson with a side of sleepytime. The writing is simplistic, the characters defy belief, the twists and turns of the plot are nonexistent. This is a bad guy. This is a bad guy too. Here's another bad guy over here. Here they are, all caught. Wait, that bad guy as well. You know what would have rocked this book and set the plot on fire? If our heroine Olivia had actually been wrong about something. Preferably the Ponzi scheme she was chasing down, but really, anything.

Olivia has cancer as a kid and meets three other girls in an experimental drug program that.... doesn't matter at all to any other aspect of the plot. The cancer exists just to show that her family is a bunch of bad guys except for the ones that aren't. Olivia is convinced, without any evidence, that her father runs a massive Ponzi scheme. She's rerouted her career into a field she thinks will help bring him down. Her aunt is convinced as well and urges Olivia forward as the Only One Who Can Do It. (Olivia has serious martyr issues.) Ok, what if Olivia had been wrong? What if Grayson (our hero) proved that Olivia's father was innocent and Olivia had simply transposed her justifiable resentment into criminal conspiracy? It's absolutely ok to despise parents that don't turn out to be mastermind criminals. Really.

But whatever, Olivia is never wrong. She's working on her dad's case, her day job at the FBI, and as an attorney for children caught up in the court system (although she doesn't go to court, she seems to mostly drive them to safe houses.) She gets shot three times and has sex a few days later, even though the surgery is touch and go. She taunts men with popsicles like she's a sexually abused tween and buys groceries for her shut in neighbors. She's rich as hell, so when she gets shot her aunt's staff comes to clean and restock her home while a personal chef caters weekly. Yet at the start of the book she's pinching pennies, skipping meals and worrying about her income. Olivia likes her men temporary and her sex whenever it's offered. Don't call her for a month? We're cool. Two weeks? Why worry about it. Olivia has no emotional needs at all. She's a giver, a pleaser, a servant to her serfs. I was really hoping they'd shoot Olivia in the head so a second heroine would appear. Look, she steps in to handle her lover's nephew's school bullying problem in a completely illegal and unlikely manner for no plot reason other than yet another example of her goodness. Come on. I don't care how many kids she works with in court, you don't walk into someone else's life and stitch their problems up in twenty seconds.

Grayson isn't much better. He's an FBI agent, single parent, home remodeling landlord, investor, investment type who is well known in the socialite circles. When it's revealed early on that Grayson knows Olivia's aunt no one asks how. Her aunt is surprised, she didn't know they were acquainted - and that's it. Olivia doesn't ask questions. The aunt doesn't ask questions. Grayson acts like a teenager with his first erection through most of the book, not the seasoned adult he's presented as. He does a lot of Ricky Ricardo posturing and has a miracle life where there is no paperwork involved. Grayson foils an attempted kidnapping and murder? It's all good. Let's hand the bad guys off to the team and hit the sheets. His work consists of taking a few phone calls and slapping the occasional cuff on. Wait, he can also engage in some low level police brutality with no complaints from any law enforcement and shoot people dead without having his gun held for an investigation period. Grayson is Olivia's perfect match in doing what he wants and being The Only One Who Can. Serving a time critical search in another state? Local can't get through those tricky old locks, but Grayson and his partner enjoy a good night's sleep then fly in to save the day in seconds!

Look, there's nothing objectionable about Sweet Talk. I didn't really want to DNF it at any point. It's a great read for a day you're sedated on cold meds and can't follow anything complicated. Turn the brain off and enjoy. It's unoffensive and smooth but it isn't good.

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