REVIEW: Sweet Talk by Susan Mallery
Dear Ms. Mallery:
July, August, and September sees the release of your Keys’ Bakery sisters series. The series begins with Claire, a piano virtuoso. Claire has been estranged from her family since, well, almost forever. When she was 3 years old, she walked up to a piano and started playing and her life changed forever. She began lessons and practicing and at age 6 left the home with her grandmother to start her career as a classical pianist. When she was older, her mother left her family to be with Claire. Nicole and Jesse were left behind and Nicole, at age 12, had to be mother, daughter, and bakery worker. Jesse was the irresponsible one. They both blamed Claire for the failure of their family and want nothing to do with her.
But then Jesse calls and tells Claire that Nicole is going to have surgery and that Nicole wants Claire to come and help. Claire thinks this is a chance, an opportunity to reconnect with the only family she has. She’s also got some performance issues so running off to help her sister is a two fold blessing.
Claire is a very nice woman whose life might be one of riches and fame but because of being a child prodigy, she’s had very few ordinary experiences, like driving a car, cooking, or being with a man. (Yes, my readers, she’s a virgin).
Wyatt Knight is Nicole’s best friend and he’s spent years learning what a delinquent, unfeeling sister Claire really is which is why he can’t really figure out what game she is playing when she shows up to "take care" of Nicole during her convalescence. He’s determined not to let her bother Nicole but the minute that he even shakes Claire’s hand, he recognizes that there is a powerful physical attraction between the two of them. One that he does not want.
Goddamn sonofabitch, he thought grimly, jerking back his hand and stuffing it in his jacket pocket. No way. Not her. Dear God, anyone but her.
Claire was babbling on, probably thanking him. He wasn’t listening. Instead he was wondering why, of all the women in all the world, he’d had to feel that hot, bright, sexual heat with her.
As for Claire, first she doesn’t recognize what she’s feeling is lust and then when she does recognize it, she’s excited about it and Wyatt. It doesn’t really matter to her that he doesn’t want to feel it back or even that he’s a bit of a jerk to her. Like a new born puppy trying to experience everything from rabbits to mailmen, Claire is delighted. She wants to have sex and is willing to use the physical attraction between the two of them to get what she wants.
Claire’s good humor in the face of really gut wrenchingly poor treatment from her sisters, Nicole and Jesse, and some from Wyatt, is nothing short of a miracle. Nicole, at some point, mentions that Claire is the strongest emotional person she knows. It’s the truth. You’d have to be an emotional warrior to withstand the crap that Nicole tosses out. I never felt that Claire was a martyr though or that she was annoyingly plucky. Being accommodating is part of Claire’s strength and part of her weakness.
What we see of Claire is a woman whose emotional and psychological profiles were stunted because of her gift and when her gift fails her because she can no longer play due to panic attacks, it allows her to embrace life. Claire’s character is one of those who is glass is half full and you can’t help but be charmed by her and her outlook.
Wyatt is also an appealing figure. He’s raised his deaf daughter by himself. He’s very protective of Nicole. He’s a straight shooter, finally admitting to Claire his wants but being up front about the inability to care for anyone on a long term basis besides his daughter.
While Wyatt’s excuses for not being able to be with Claire on a permanent basis are thin, there is enough chemistry and emotional development for both that the reader isn’t left wanting. It’s a fun, emotional, and sexy read. A good way to spend an evening. B-
This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or Powells or ebook format.
This was my first Susan Mallery, and I’m sorry to say, will probably be my last. There’s something about her voice that reads a little too curt and for this story, it really didn’t allow me to connect with any of the characters. I didn’t really have any problems with the story; if it had been written with more inner dialogue and more emotion, I think I would have enjoyed it very much. As it was, I felt as if I were reading a rough draft, almost script-like version.
I think I’ll skip this one, for the same reasons that other people skip police books or EMT books or lawyer books — I’m a pianist by training. Your other reviews, Jane, made her other books sound appealing, so maybe I’ll find one of those.
Corrine – if Sweet Talk doesn’t fit your reading tastes, I think you are right to give Mallery a pass. It’s very classic Mallery, in my opinion.
Stephanie – I’ve read 10 Mallerys by now and I think Irresistible is far and away the best one.
I read this book a few weeks ago and enjoyed it. I am actually looking forward to reading more about the other sisters in the August and September releases.
I agree that this is a classic Mallery book and if you didn’t enjoy it, you probably won’t appreciate her other books. I agree with Jane Irrestible was a GREAT book.
I read lots and lots of Susan Mallery Special Editions (and SIMS) back when I still read tons of category – though I may have preferred Christine Rimmer when they both seemed to dominate that line so much. After awhile, neither did it for me anymore – though most of category didn’t do it for me either by that point.
I have looked at Mallery’s single titles and wondered briefly if I should give her a try again. It sounds like folks think Irresistible is the best out there.
I forgot the sentence, “I’ll give it a try.” ugh.
I feel like Ms. Mallery’s earlier [first… 3?] Marcelli sister books were a bit different. I did really like Irresistible – and Delicious too. I’m glad Falling For Gracie is being reissued – that’s another good one. I really enjoyed this book – maybe because I liked the second half once I got over the first part.
I didn’t like this one as much as the next book but in my normal odd way I read the second book FIRST. And this one I just read over last weekend.
Did you like the next book?
Up front, I’m a Mallery fan! I think I’ve read more than 75% of her releases. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to read her latest but I think the stats on this release speak for themselves, a NYC Best Seller. I personally loved her Buchanan series, her Marcelli series, and something I never thought I would admit…..Desert Rogues, fun, and entertaining.
Susan has a knack for character development, her secondary characters are very interesting and her humor always shines through.
A really fun book is Falling for Gracie. It’s silly, fun but as always Susan has a message, a very definite message.
July 24, 2008
As an FYI, Sweet Talk hit # 20 on the New York Times list!
Since you’ve read 75% of her books, what is your absolute favorite of hers? I’ve read lots of her categories, and I just always loved her first one the best – I believe it was tender loving care.