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REVIEW:  Any Way You Want It by Maureen Smith

REVIEW: Any Way You Want It by Maureen Smith

Dear Ms. Smith

What I appreciated most about this book was the pro woman message delivered at the end.  I thought it could have gone farther in support of the idea that a woman doesn’t need to be ashamed of what she does and with whom she consorts.  Mostly I found this book was heavy on the sexy, heavy on Remy Brand as a former SEAL, and light on most everything else.

Remy, our hero, isn’t mentioned without the attendant words “as a former SEAL”. I kept wondering if he pissed differently, as a SEAL, or he ate differently, as a SEAL. I guess it makes sense that his time in the military, particularly with an elite corps, would have a transformative and lasting impression on him but if I had taken a shot every time the point was made that Remy was a former SEAL, I would have been drunk and passed out by chapter 4.

Any Way You Want It Maureen SmithZandra is a wealthy woman who owns an exclusive escort service. She does not dabble in prostitution although she knows that her girls have occasionally slept with a customer. Her friend and former contractor, Lena, slept with her client on a “date” and ended up marrying him. When Zandra’s father decides to enter the mayoral race in Chicago, Zandra’s business becomes a target. The current political party wants to find out dirt on her to use against Zandra’s father. Zandra’s father wants Zandra to take her dirty business and go away.

Remy is approached by a member of the current mayor’s political party, wanting him to go undercover and find out whatever dirt he can on Zandra. Remy doesn’t want to spy on Zandra. He loves her and has been trying to find a way to turn their friendship into a lasting, romantic relationship. But the political operative basically tells Remy that it is in Zandra’s best interest that someone who supports her digs up the dirt before someone else does. Remy could have went to Zandra and told her of his plan but instead keeps it a secret and this secret is bound to crush whatever relationship that they develop.  Remy’s activities as it relates to this are a bit a) foolish (he books a date with one of Zandra’s women and this is called undercover?) and b) a little skeevy (is seen kissing the escort’s shoulder but internally begging the woman to turn away from his attentions).

The conflict is believable and has serious repurcussions but it is a category book and thus one cry and a few I’m sorry’s and it is resolved all too quickly.  I also struggled with Zandra’s passionate defense of her business as not providing sex.  It seemed a bit naive for Zandra to think that sometimes there wasn’t sex going on between these wealthy, charismatic men and the beautiful single escorts.  In fact, in some ways Zandra’s business seems like it is being set up as a matchmaking service toward the end.

I  liked that the book made the effort to say that being seen with an attractive man, having had a lusty encounter, was not something to be ashamed of, but would Zandra have supported a woman who did provide sex for pay? I felt that the strict line drawn between someone who provides sexual services and someone who provides companions for the night could have used more gradation. C

Best regard,

Jane

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REVIEW:  Rev It Up by Julie Ann Walker

REVIEW: Rev It Up by Julie Ann Walker

Dear Ms. Walker:

I really enjoyed book 2 in the series, but the problems that affected my enjoyment of book 1 and in book 2 were magnified in this one and I am sorry to say I will be leaving this series behind after “Rev It Up”.

Rev It Up by Julie Ann Walker“Rev It Up” like the two books before it in the series is about unrequited friends to lovers. I wished there had been some kind of change in the dynamic. Why three books with such similar tropes?

Jake the Snake* Sommers and Michelle Carter had feelings for each other but Jake pushed Michelle away, fearing he would not be good for her. She ended up marrying one of his Navy SEAL teammates who subsequently died in gunfire in Afghanistan. Jake is beset with guilt but five years later, Jake is working for Michelle’s brother and determined to win her over. The series centers around a paramilitary organization, Black Knights, Inc., headed by Frank (“Boss”) Carter which is headquartered in Chicago and operates out of a custom bike and car shop. Jake has left the SEALs to join the group.

The dialect that everyone spoke with in the book was distracting. The number of apostrophes used in place of letters in this book must be a new record. Everyone was dropping letters from Shell thinking about Jake (A California surfer ’til the day he died) to a Cajun member of the team (How d’ya think she’s gonna feel about havin’ you back around?”) to Jake (“Dunno, brohah,” he wheezed).

The romance read weak for me and and I suppose that is why there is plenty of time given to a secondary unrequited love storyline that I presume is a sequel and the suspense angle which involves a bounty being placed on each one of the BKI operators and conveniently places Michelle in danger so that she is in need of protection from Jake.

There are at least five different points of view in the story: Michelle, Jake, Vanessa (future heroine), Rock (future hero) and the villain. I wasn’t even sure why we got the creepy villain’s POV as it did not add tension to the story.

The storyline involving the kid seemed ridiculously over the top and used only to provide conflict in the relationship in order to elongate the romance given that Jake was chasing Michelle around declaring his undying love from the opening of the book.

In the end, I was just worn down by the predictability of the romance.  It didn’t bring anything new to the table, not in terms of the villain driven by revenge, nor in the “I’m not good enough for you” romantic conflict.

This may be a case where “Rev It Up” would work better for newcomers to the series than long time series readers. I was frustrated with the lack of series continuity, the repetitive emotional trope, and the overuse of dialect to create flavor and character differences. Newbies to the series wouldn’t be as adversely affected.  C

Best regards,

Jane
*(I know, it was SO HARD for me to get over this guy’s name)

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