Reviewed: October 24, 2012
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Love Undercover, Book 1
Rating: 4 Stars
Length: 379 Pages
Formats: Print, eBook
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by HQN publisher Harlequin via NetGalley.
This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.
It was supposed to be a simple undercover op that would lead him to the man who killed his best friend. Detective Logan Riske has Pepper Yates in his sights and through her he plans to get to her brother, the only known witness to his friend's murder. All he has to do is play at being a construction worker, a helpful neighbor, and an interested red-blooded man as he slowly, carefully reels her in.
Logan is severely thrown, though, when he realizes just how much of her own reeling the shy, skittish, but surprisingly seductive woman is doing to him while he's at it. And just how effective it's been on his control. So much so that the longer he stays undercover, the more his focus switches from finding her brother to keeping Pepper safe from the crime boss that would happily see them both dead.
It never once occurred to Logan that he wasn't the only one keeping secrets in the relationship he's fostered with Pepper. And even as those secrets finally rear up and knock him flat, they could very well end up more than risking his case, but tearing his heart out as well.
For years I've enjoyed Lori Foster's romantic suspense novels and this series debut continued that streak quite nicely. Likable characters with sizzling chemistry combined with a solid plotline delivered a truly entertaining read. I enjoyed the plot twists and touches of humor, and the secondary characters provided intriguing glimpses into the future of the series. This was an all-around good read.
Not only was Logan a sexy bit of alpha male, but Pepper was a treat as well. I loved how they interacted, the heat between them was intense, and Pepper really kept the poor guy off balance from the start. Then there was the fact that Logan was hot for Pepper before he got to see beyond her disguise. That truly set him apart in my esteem. I'm always, always a sucker for the heroes who fall for the Plain Jane, seeing something of value in them beyond appearance, and that was totally Logan in this book.
And of course, when the gloves truly came off, I was tickled pink by Pepper's response and Logan's reaction to it. Loved that. I think I could actually hear Logan's jaw slamming on the floor in one scene.
Foster did a nice job keeping the threat of the Bad Guy cloaked in threats and mystery, teasing readers with the suspense threads in such a way that you don't really know the motivations or intentions of anyone but the main characters in most cases. Even partners and brothers were not immune from having their loyalties questioned. It kept the tension level high throughout the book.
Some elements of the plot weren't to my personal taste. I'm not a big fan of the mafioso-type Bad Guy trope, the city crime lord who holds court over a terrified populace. That's just not my gig and in this book it seemed a little overplayed and cliched, especially during the story's climax. Fortunately, my investment in the characters and their relationship was enough to balance that out and still keep me entertained.
This wasn't the most complex and mulit-layered story I've ever read, nor was it particularly gritty and realistic. There were several elements that worked to keep the tone set on the lighter end of the romantic suspense spectrum. I was perfectly okay with that, even when some of those elements tread closer towards absurdity for their humorous impact. There was simply a nice balance between the dark and the light that gave the book a sexy, fun feel as opposed to one more realistic and intense.
As far as series debuts go, this one hit the right notes to make me want to return to it when the series progresses. I very much enjoyed the introduction to the characters who will be featured in the next book. The chemistry between them was touched on very briefly and in some pretty amusing ways. With the hints given about one of those character's lives, there is some great story potential to look forward to.
Sexy, fun, graced by touches of humor and just enough danger to keep it relevant and interesting, this series debut by Foster delivered everything I was hoping for in a quick, easy, smooth read. Given my familiarity with Foster's work, I wasn't expecting anything less, but it's always nice to get exactly what you want out of a book when you want it.
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