My review cross-posted from Joyfully Reviewed: http://www.joyfullyreviewed.com/new-reviews/sweet-talk-by-julie-garwood
There are bad interviews, and then there’s the job interview Olivia MacKenzie finds herself in the middle of. When her perspective employer isn’t staring at her chest, he’s flipping out and ripping her dress, threatening to kill her, and wanting to know if she’s wearing a wire. If the situation can’t get any odder, Olivia finds out that she’s accidentally blown a FBI sting operation. The agent who put the operation together is furious, but Olivia’s not easily intimidated. After all, she’s an IRS attorney. The only upside to an otherwise awful day is Olivia meeting Agent Grayson Kincaid. The sexy FBI agent leaves a lasting impression, and when Olivia’s quest to uncover evidence of her father’s Ponzi scheme puts her life at risk, she knows just the man to ask for help. As the danger mounts and Olivia gets closer to finding proof of her father’s guilt, Grayson becomes more determined than ever to protect her. But who will guard against Olivia losing her heart to the agent protecting her body?
How often are passion and Ponzi schemes put in the same book? In Sweet Talk, Julie Garwood takes a storyline involving each and blends them together to create a fast-paced romantic suspense story. At the center of Sweet Talk are Olivia and Grayson, two brilliant, successful, nice characters you can’t help but like. They fit each other like lock and key, so it’d be difficult not to be charmed by their love story.
Grayson is just about the poster board for the perfect hero, between his heart, his brain, his looks, his wealth, taking care of his nephew, being a dedicated FBI agent, and so on. This probably should be annoying, but it really isn’t. As for Olivia, Ms. Garwood first introduces her as a young girl with cancer who’s been put in an experimental treatment program. Child Olivia sets the stage for understanding adult Olivia, showing readers just why she is determined to protect others (particularly children) at any cost. It also gives you a good idea from the start of just why Olivia has a contentious relationship with her truly awful immediate family. Having that understanding makes Olivia’s sometimes questionable actions — namely, putting herself in danger when she has bodyguards on call — more logical. More importantly, the glimpse into Olivia’s childhood introduces us to the “Pips,” Olivia’s three best friends who were in the treatment program with her. For me, the Pips — Olivia, Jane, Sam, and Collins — were the heart and soul of Sweet Talk. Ms. Garwood did a masterful job of making me care about all four of them, and the sisterhood of the Pips warmed my heart.
The suspense element of Sweet Talk involves around the threats to Olivia’s life. Olivia’s father and his partner-in-crime attorney (obviously) want Olivia to back off her investigation. They’re both heartless men who’ve stolen from many and show no remorse for it. I was a bit saddened that these men were really “token” villains, with no depth, but overall I don’t think this strongly affected my enjoyment of Sweet Talk. For me, the real suspense storyline was not the criminal element, but rather the subplot involving Jane, who’s back in the hospital. Olivia’s fear for Jane’s life, her worry that her cancer could return, and the question of whether Jane will live or die was what really had me turning the pages of Sweet Talk. Out of all the storylines in the book, Jane’s had the most impact and upon finishing Sweet Talk I definitely wanted to read another book about the Pips.
All in all, Sweet Talk was a satisfying read. It lacked the humor of Ms. Garwood’s historical romances, which is a pity, for that added element is what made Ms. Garwood’s books shine above the rest in the past. Still, on its own merits Sweet Talk is a solidly entertaining book. Ms. Garwood excels at writing characters who endear themselves to readers, and the protagonists of Sweet Talk are no exception. If you’re looking to curl up with an engaging romantic suspense, Sweet Talk should fit the bill.