Body Shot is the first story in Kelly Jamieson’s new Last Shot series, centered around three former Navy SEALs who now run a tequila bar. It’s a sexy, lighthearted read with minimal angst, the characters are stereotypical and the story is predictable. It won’t rock the world of romantic literature but it’s a fun way to spend an afternoon.
Beck and his two friends, Marco and Cade have retired from their Navy SEAL days and having bonded in that way that military brothers do, were left a bit at odds as to what to do after their retirement. Beck had a sizable inheritance that let him choose from any number of future paths and in partnership with his two friends they’ve opened up an ocean-side tequila bar. While the financial success of the bar doesn’t really matter to Beck, it does to Cade and Marco and they’ve been trying to find a way to draw in some new business. A tequila tasting night is planned, and it’s at the first such occasion that Beck officially meets Hayden, a busy and somewhat shy scientist lured out for a night on the town by her best friend. Hayden and Beck previously had a run in on the street when Beck saved Hayden from an embarrassing fall. This chance meeting sets the stage for an easy flirtation at the bar and a hot hookup that leaves Hayden and Beck wanting more. But with Hayden committed to her research work and Beck avoiding commitment altogether, will their sexy affair flame out quickly or be the start of a future together?
The concept of the tequila bar sets the stage for this romance on a slightly different note to the typical winery or craft brewery that is more prevalent in the contemporary romance scene. There’s a good discussion of the history of tequila, and the differences in brands as part of the tequila tasting scene at the start of the story. It’s a little more descriptive than what I expect to read in a contemporary romance but I like those kinds of details.
Formula wise though, the story is the same as many others – hot commitment phobic playboy meets geeky woman. Sexy times ensue. Hayden is a friendly, smart, organized, hard-working woman. While I like her as a person, there are some details regarding her career that are not realistic. As luck would have it (or not, for the author) I’m a biochemist who works in industry so I feel qualified to point out some details that bothered me. Hayden is described as owning her own biotech company which is involved in the ubiquitous area of cancer research (a safe bet). Her job involves the business aspects of the job, including grant proposals and funding, as well as working in the lab and supervising and being involved with the research. That’s a pretty heavy duty commitment, and realistically, is more than one person can handle. And on top of that she’s an associate professor at a university. Sorry, but I can’t see how this is actually feasible for one woman. Also, I know from experience, that explaining my job to someone depends on their familiarity with the subject. There are a few scenes where Hayden is describing what she does to Beck, and while I understand what she’s talking about, there’s no way he would. In reality, you’re going to talk to your audience in terms they will understand. What Hayden says would be appropriate if she was out to lunch with another scientist, not with a bartender with no science background. These are little, picky details, but they jump out at me. They might not make an impact on another reader who would just gloss over the job details and be content to know Hayden is a scientist. There are also some times where I feel the geeky scientist card is overplayed. Just because she works in science doesn’t mean she’d automatically be worried that she’s not attractive enough for a man like Beck, or that being called ‘smart’ would be an insult left over from her high school days.
Beck fulfills his expected role as a playboy who is looking for sex without commitment. He definitely comes across as a fun-loving adventurous guy who is always looking for a good time and likes to be spontaneous. He’s handsome and he knows it too, so his ego definitely doesn’t need more stroking. But what you see on the surface masks the effect of the time he spent in the military. As a dedicated soldier for nine years, he served his country honorably and his life now is a like a pressure-valve to relieve the fallout from all those stressful times. He has a fractious relationship with his parents who never understood his desire to join the military and expected him to work for his father’s company. He’s got inherited wealth from a trust fund but he doesn’t share that information with anyone but his close friends, not wanting the attention it would draw. He used some of his money to start a charity to benefit veterans’ families and really, he comes across as a good guy. Combine that with his skills in the bedroom and it’s not hard to see why Hayden would enjoy spending time with him.
Still, the sexy and fun times they have together, where Beck introduces Hayden to some of his adventurous pastimes and they share some steamy scenes doesn’t change the conflict in their priorities. Beck is all about fun and Hayden is all about work and this clash won’t make their relationship progress unless they can be honest with each other that their feelings are changing. There is some family conflict to force the issues between them and in the end, they realize that being together is worth the compromises they have to make. My overall feeling about Body Shot is that it’s not going to win any awards for originality but will please readers looking for a light read with an abundance of sexy scenes.